LIFE Service: Insecurity, BettaGate, Super Eagles…top 5 issues as NASS resumes  

Elizabeth AtimeJanuary 28, 20249 min

In this Legislative Intelligence Forecast Entry (LIFE), OrderPaper highlights the top 5 issues that will occupy lawmakers as the National Assembly resumes plenary from the Christmas break  

top 5 issues for NASS

Ahead of Tuesday’s resumption of lawmakers at the National Assembly (NASS), the tension and anxiety that have filled the nation due to palpable insecurity across the country will be one of the top 5 talking points expected to be on the front burner. The BettaGate corruption scandal at the Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Affairs Ministry will most likely engage the lawmakers. The public debate raging over the relocation of FAAN and departments of the CBN from Abuja to Lagos; as well as the disturbing revelations coming from the COVID-19 probe by the House of Representatives PAC, will also gain prominent attention from the NASS. A final issue we forecast to gain frontline attention from the federal legislature is a discussion of the outing, thus far, of the Nigerian senior national football team at the ongoing African Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Cote d’ivoire.

These top 5 issues are explained below:

  1. Insecurity in Abuja and other parts of the country

The universal fundamental human right of the citizens of any country includes the right to security, as enshrined in the constitution of most sovereign states. Nigeria is not an exception as Section 14 (2) (b) of the Nigerian 1999 Constitution (as amended) states clearly that “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of the government.”

Security connotes a situation in which citizens exist freely from all threats to life and means of livelihood. They are guaranteed safety from bodily harm, diseases, unemployment, and all forms of human rights violations, irrespective of where they may find themselves within any part of a sovereign nation. Yet the assurance of security in Nigeria continues to elude its citizens.

At the moment, Abuja, Nigeria’s capital is experiencing an upsurge in cases of kidnappings and other forms of criminalities. Curiously, this is the same city where the government led by former President Goodluck Jonathan secured a $460 million Chinese loan for the installation of CCTV cameras. Nigerians have raised questions on the whereabouts of the funds that were earmarked for this project. Also, the National Assembly had in the past carried out several probes to unravel the issue but to no avail. Are we going to witness another jamboree in the name of investigating the CCTV camera fund? 

Some Senators have raised concerns over this issue including Senator Ireti Kingibe (LP, FCT) who disclosed that several efforts to meet with the Minister of the FCT, Nyesom Wike to discuss ways to resolve the insecurity in the FCT were rebuffed. She however stated that the Senate will summon Wike and heads of security agencies to testify over the rise of crimes in the FCT.

Sadly, Abuja is not the only part of the country experiencing alarming insecurity; most states are also dealing with the menace so the National Assembly will be expected to look into the issue of insecurity bedeviling the nation upon resumption. The lawmakers are also expected to meet with security chiefs to have a better understanding of the current security situation in the country.

BettaGATE is one of top 5 issues

2. BettaGate Scandal

The BettaGate scandal may take center stage when the National Assembly resumes from its break. The social investment programmes initiated by previous governments have not yielded much-expected results. Most Nigerians perceive the schemes as conduit pipes for corruption as politicians are alleged to be the biggest beneficiaries as they use it to settle their political allies, cronies, and hangers-on.

President Bola Tinubu had on January 13, 2024, set up a six-member panel to review the policy guidelines of the social investment programmes domiciled in the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management. In a statement, Ajuri Ngelale, presidential spokesperson, said the panel is expected to audit existing financial frameworks of the social investment programmes and its policy guidelines to implement a total re-engineering of the scheme. The President had earlier suspended the poverty alleviation programmes administered under the National Social Investment Programme Agency (NSIPA) in the wake of the alleged corruption scandal rocking the parent ministry, On January 2, 2024, Tinubu suspended Halima Shehu as the chief executive officer (CEO) of NSIPA, over alleged financial malfeasance. On January 8, 2024, the President suspended Betta Edu as minister of the supervising ministry following scathing corruption allegations. 

Although no replacement has been announced for the minister, the lawmakers are likely to discuss, evaluate, and make some resolutions on the BettaGate issue upon resumption.

PAC probe of COVID-19 funds is on of top 5 issues

3. Mismanagement of COVID-19 funds

The House of Representatives had on 17 October 2023 resolved to investigate the alleged misappropriation of COVID-19 intervention funds, released between 2020 to 2022, to the tune of N183.9 billion. The resolution followed a motion sponsored by Rep. Nyampa Dauda Zakari (PDP, Adamawa), who recalled that COVID-19 broke out as a major pandemic in 2019 affecting families, businesses, and economies of the nations of the world.

So far the probe has commenced and the House Public Accounts Committee (PAC) led by Rep. Bamidele Salam (PDP, Osun) seems to be leaving no stone unturned as the disclosures being made are mind-blowing and some government agencies have been ordered to refund huge sums of money into the federation account.  So as expected, the Committee would present its findings on the floor of the House when it resumes making it one of the top 5 issues to be discussed.

CBN office of top 5 issues for NASS

4. Proposed relocation of FAAN and some Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) units to Lagos

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) recently announced plans to relocate some of their offices to Lagos due to congestion of some departments, and for FAAN to ensure seamless operations and save costs.

Specifically, CBN said the departments for relocation are the Banking Supervision, Other Financial Institutions Supervision, Consumer Protection Department, Payment System Management Department, and Financial Policy Regulations Department. The plans by CBN and FAAN elicited condemnation from different quarters, especially from the northern apex socio-cultural organisation, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF). Prominent among those kicking against the move is Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume (APC, Borno South)  who claimed that President Tinubu is being ill-advised by a cartel of “Lagos boys” in the corridors of power.

This is one of the top 5 issues that may be raised in a motion on the floor of the Senate or/and House of Representatives upon resumption.

5. Super Eagles outing at AFCON

Nigeria is a sport-loving country. Undoubtedly, one sport that unites the country easily is football. The Nigerian senior national football team has done well so far at the ongoing African Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Cote d’Ivoire. However, Nigerians believe the team can do better, especially with some of the issues bedeviling football management in the country.

So far, the team has made it to the Quarter-Finals with a game against Angola next. Whatever happens, should the Eagles win and proceed to the finals and ultimately win the competition, the National Assembly would likely move for the players and coaches to be celebrated, decorated, and honoured. On the flip side, should the team fall short and get booted out either at the quarter-finals, the semi-finals, or clinch second place, the lawmakers are likely to look into the circumstances, push for ways to improve the team for better performance, and by extension, football management in the country.

Either way, the Super Eagles at AFCON will not go unnoticed and will be one of the top 5 issues to be discussed by the lawmakers.

Elizabeth Atime

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