As the Senate resumes from its one month Christmas and New Year break today, it has pledged to accord the 2015 budget and conclusion of the constitution amendment process accelerated attention.
Making this disclosure on Monday after a meeting with a delegation of the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University, Washington DC, United States, Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, said the parliament would not hesitate to suspend plenary to facilitate the budget process.
He expressed hope that the advent of Johns Hopkins University in Nigeria would help to boost the nation’s capacity for good governance and development.
“Basically, we are resuming to take care of the issue of the 2015 budget. God willing, we will go through the second reading and send the Appropriation Bill to our committees for a thorough work. That means we may have to break off from the plenary and deal with the budget,” he said.
Ekweremadu, who is also the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Review of the 1999 Constitution, assured Nigerians that there would be expedited legislative actions on the Constitution Amendment Bill.
“We received the report on the Constitution Amendment Bill from the state assemblies shortly before the Christmas break. We are hopeful that this week, we are going to report formally to plenary on the returns from the states. We will let Nigerians know the specific clauses that have been successfully amended; that is, those who received the positive votes of two-thirds of the 36 state assemblies. We are going to articulate it finally and send to the President for his assent,” he added.
Speaking on the collaboration between the Nigeria Institute for Legislative Studies (NILS) and the Johns Hopkins University, Ekweremadu said the move would help to meet the demands of “many Nigerians who travel abroad to seek quality education or build their capacities.”
He added: “Nigerians are hungry for quality education and training. So, I believe it would be cheaper and more convenient for us to bring a highly reputable institution like Johns Hopkins University here. I am happy that following my discussion with them in Washington DC last year, the school authorities have agreed to come and set up executive education programmes here, which we hope would blossom into a full-fledged university in the future.
“We have had fruitful discussions today, drawing up a roadmap. In a couple of days, we should be able to finalise and sign an Memoranda of Understanding MoU and I want to assure you that within this year the programmes would kick off.”
In his remarks, one of the guests, Prof. Paul Lubeck, commended Nigeria’s democratic strides, but observed that there were still challenges.
He said: “The democratic experience in the Fourth Republic is a major achievement as we go into another general election. This surpasses what most critics thought Nigeria is capable of. Stabilisation of the economy, vibrant press, civil liberties have improved immensely. Those are great achievements of the Nigerian democracy at this period. There are, however, challenges that we all know about.
“We have held successful discussions on the possibilities of collaborating with the National Institute for Legislative Studies on expanding education in a truly global, truly networked way that will bring benefits to both American and Nigerian students.”