•Reconstitutes c’ttee on N30,000 minimum wage
By Ikechukwu Okaforadi and Musa Adamu
Senate, yesterday, disclosed that it will today commence debate on the N8.83trillion 2019 budget.
President Muhammadu Buhari had, in December ending, presented to the joint session of the National Assembly this year’s budget estimates for consideration and approval.
In a related development, the Senate has slated Tuesday next week to also commence the consideration of the N30,000 minimum wage for the Nigerian workers.
This is even as it appointed the Deputy Majority Whip, Francis Alimikhena, as acting chairman of the Adhoc Committee on Minimum Wage.
The president of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, who made the announcement at plenary on Tuesday, said Senator Alimikhena would work in acting capacity while the chairman, Olusola Adeyeye was away on health grounds.
Saraki charged the committee to expedite action on the matter to enable the Senate to be able to catch up with the House of Representatives which had already passed the bill through third reading.
The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, had, on Jan. 24, appointed the chief whip of the Senate, Olusola Adeyeye, as chairman of an eight-member ad-hoc committee mandated to work on the minimum wage bill.
The members of the adhoc committee are: Abu Ibrahim (APC-Katsina State); Shehu Sani (PRP-Kaduna State) and Sam Egwu (PDP-Ebonyi).
Others are: Suleiman Adokwe (PDP-Nasarawa State); Francis Alimikhena(APC-Edo); Solomon Adeola (APC-Lagos State) and Binta Garba (APC-Adamawa).
The House of Representatives had, on Jan. 29, approved N30,000 as minimum wage for workers in the public and private sectors.
The green chamber increased the threshold for public and private sector workers in states and local governments from N27,000 as proposed in the National Minimum Wage Act Amendment Bill to N30,000.
The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, disclosed the readiness of the senators to commence debate on the general principles of the 2019 budget estimates during yesterday’s plenary.
He said, “Senators should by this notice, get prepared for the debate and indicate their intension for that through the Clerk.
“Apart from the budget, I will also want the Ad- hoc committee on minimum wage to complete its work this week and submit report to the Senate on Tuesday next week unfailingly.
“In getting this done, since the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Olusola Adeyeye has travelled out, the Deputy Whip of the Senate, Senator Francis Alimekhena (APC Edo North), should please take over the chairmanship of the committee and get the report submitted on Tuesday next week.”
Shortly after, Saraki ruled that plenary session be suspended in honour of a late member of the House of Representatives who was assassinated in Oyo state during the general elections.
This was in furtherance of the Senate tradition, and in compliance of a motion to that effect moved by the Senate Leader, Ahmad Lawan (APC Yobe North).
Lawan who had, before Saraki, informed senators to get ready for commencement of debate on general principles of the 2019 budget today, called for suspension of plenary and other parliamentary activities to honour Hon Temitope Olatoye who was assassinated in Ibadan on Saturday.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on Wednesday, 19th December, 2018, presented the budget estimates for expeditious consideration by the federal lawmakers.
The President, while making the presentation, appealed to the federal lawmakers at both chambers to give the Appropriation Bill expeditious consideration and passage in returning the country back to January to December yearly budgetary circle for clear cut measurement and assessment of its implementation on quarterly basis.
“It is my hope that despite our current preoccupation with political activities, we can all commit to an early passage of this budget in the larger interest of our people and the national economy,particularly in returning the yearly budget circle to January to December for clear cut assessment and evaluation of its implementation on quarterly basis,” he said.
However, between December and March, both the Senate and the House of Representatives have not passed the budget for second reading.
Second reading of the budget remains a condition for budget defence by heads of the various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) before the various standing committees of both chambers.
Going by the Nigerian Constitution, the National Assembly has until May 29th, 2019 to consider, pass and transmit the budget to President Buhari for assent. This is largely because the current tenure of the President will expire on the above date, while his second tenure will commence on June 1st, 2019.