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A STRONG VOICE IN THE SENATE


Uba Sani

Kareem Musa writes that Uba Sani, who represents Kaduna Central in the Senate, is doing remarkably well

It is not unusual but it is certainly not a regular occurrence during sittings of the Senate for the presiding officer to slam the gavel and then proceed to eulogize a fellow Senator for a job well done, especially following the passage of an important bill into law, at a record time.

This uncommon scenario played out on the floor of the upper chamber of the ninth National Assembly on Wednesday, July 15, when the Senate passed the bill seeking to establish the Federal College of Education, Giwa, Kaduna State, which was sponsored by Senator Uba Sani, who represents Kaduna Central in the Senate. “Distinguished Senators, I want to specially thank Senator Uba Sani for the hard work he put in to achieve the passage of this bill into law. This is exactly how I want us to work in this Senate. Congratulations, Senator Sani,” Dr. Ahmed Lawan, the President of the Senate said and slammed his gavel. Prior to its passage into law, the bill had passed through first and second readings on the floor of the Senate and was properly scrutinized at a well-attended public hearing before it then passed the crucial third reading on the floor of the Senate, after earning the endorsements of overwhelming majority of senators and members of the public. The bill was eventually passed after consideration of the report of the Senate Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND.

“My identification of education as a key priority was deliberate. Like I have said elsewhere, the immediate push and inspiration for me to take action in this crucial aspect of our being was Governor Nasir el-Rufai’s Education Revival Programme in Kaduna State. His holistic approach to reviving education has been widely acclaimed. Kaduna State has become a model of educational reform. I will never waver in following in the footsteps of our dear Governor. I am committed to doing all that is needed to ensure a better future for our children through education,” an elated Senator Uba Sani said when he received in his office in Abuja, key stakeholders from Giwa Local Government Area who visited him to show their appreciation for sponsoring and ensuring the speedy passage of the bill for an act to Establish a Federal College of Education in Giwa.

Led by the Chairman of Giwa Local Government Area, Hon. Abubakar Shehu, the delegation, also comprised such notable personalities as the member representing the Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Hon. Shehu Balarabe Bakauye (Birnin Gwari/Giwa Fed. Constituency), the Chairman, All Progressives Congress (APC), Giwa Local Government, Alh. Ibrahim Musa, Kaduna State House of Assembly members: Hon. Yusuf Ibrahim and Hon. Rilwanu Gadagau, traditional rulers, religious scholars, ward councilors and executive members of the APC in Giwa Local Government Area. Members of the delegation were effusive in their commendation of Senator Uba Sani “for putting Giwa Local Government Area on the national map of education and for making the revitalization of education a key priority.”

Back home in Kaduna State, especially in Giwa and neighbouring communities of Katangi, Kadaga, Kidandan, Yakawada, Shika, Pan Hauya, Galadimawa and Idasu, the people were jubilant when news filtered in that the largely agrarian local government area would now host a Federal College of Education. “We are very grateful to Senator Uba Sani. What he has done will impact on the well-being of this local government on so many fronts,” Mr. Idris Azeez, a secondary school teacher in Giwa enthused.

Barely a week after this landmark achievement, Senator Uba Sani was once again the cynosure of all eyes on the floor of the Senate as he scored another big one.

On Thursday, 23 July 2020, Senator Uba Sani paved the way for the long over-due reinvention of the banking and financial services sector in Nigeria as his bill for an act to Repeal the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act 2004 and to re-enact the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act and Other Matters Connected Therewith 2020 was passed into law by the Senate.

The passage of this crucial bill which was co-sponsored by Senator Betty Apiafi (Rivers State) was after it went through the mandatory first and second readings on the floor of the Senate. The bill also was subjected to public scrutiny where all concerned persons, especially critical stakeholders in the nation’s financial sector made contributions at a well-attended public hearing. Thereafter, the task of convincing the very profound senators to have the bill read a third time and passed into law, once again, fell on the shoulders of one of the nation’s youngest senator, Uba Sani. And he rose to the challenge, after all, it was his bill and he has firm and deep understanding of the nation’s financial sector. After a robust submission to the Senate for the consideration of the report by the Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions which Uba Sani chairs, the senators were swayed. The report recalled that the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria at its sitting on Thursday, 27th February, 2020 read for the second time the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act, Cap, B3, LFN, 2004 Repeal and Re-enactment Bill, 2020 and referred same to the Committee on Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions for further legislative action.

The report detailed the objectives of the bill, the methodology adopted by the committee in carrying out its assignment, especially the highly successful public hearing which recorded impressive attendance by key stakeholders, and the updated recommendations of the committee. The committee, after a painstaking evaluation and analysis of submissions, observations and the preponderance of views expressed in support of the proposed legislation recommended “That the Senate do approve the attached recommendations of the Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions on a Bill for an Act to Repeal the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act, CAP, B3, LFN, 2004 and Re-enact the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act, 2020.”

In a nutshell, the bill seeks to update the laws governing banks, financial institutions and financial services; enhance efficiency in the process of obtaining and/or granting of banking licenses; impose stiffer penalties for regulatory breaches in the financial services industry and also regulate the activities of Financial Technology Companies (FINTECHs). Impressed by the submission of Senator Uba Sani, the President of the Senate, Senator Ahmed Lawan proceeded to put it to vote and demanded if it was the wish of the Senate that the bill be read for the third time and passed into law. It was a unanimous “yes” from all the senators. The third reading was promptly taken and the President of the Senate sealed it with the slamming of his gavel. And in the fine tradition of the Senate, the President of the Senate proceeded to, on behalf of the Senate, approve that Senator Uba Sani’s prayers: “That the Senate do approve the attached recommendations of the Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions on a Bill for an Act to Repeal the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act, CAP, B3, LFN, 2004 and Re-enact the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act, 2020,” be granted. The bill was read a third time and passed into law. For the second time in two weeks, the President of the Senate commended the dexterity of Senator Uba Sani.

“I am very delighted that the Senate, as usual, put on its reformist cap and stood to be counted on the side of the reinvention of the banking and other financial services sector, and by extension the strengthening of the Nigerian economy. The Banking and other Financial Institutions Act was last amended/reviewed in 1991. It is therefore long overdue for review and amendment. A robust legal framework is very critical and strategic to maintaining the health of the banking sector in order to prevent future distress. A stable and strengthened banking sector will refocus its activities and concentrate on providing credit access to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to help grow the economy, enhance and properly regulate electronic transactions system that will propel operational efficiency and boost customer confidence in the banking sector,” Senator Uba Sani said shortly after the bill was passed.

He expressed gratitude to the President of the Senate, fellow senators, members of the Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions, key stakeholders in the banking and other financial services sector, experts and members of the public for their inputs and support.

Following the expeditious passage of two bills sponsored by Senator Uba Sani into law by the Senate, records at the National Assembly now show that one year into the tenure of the ninth Senate, Senator Uba Sani now ranks among the first three senators with progressing bills. In fact, Uba Sani’s legislative record is only second to that of Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, the Deputy President of the Senate and is currently at par with that of Senator Michael Bamidele Opeyemi from Ekiti State. According to Order Paper, Nigeria’s leading parliamentary/citizen monitoring platform, the criteria adopted in the assessment of the performances of senators in the first year of the Ninth National Assembly was strictly based on the progression of their sponsored bills to at least second reading stages. Only three of the eleven senators with a number of bills sponsored as at July 2020 made what Order Paper termed the ‘Productivity List.’ The appraisal covered all 109 senators and the review period is the first year of the Ninth Senate.

Musa, a sociologist, wrote from Giwa Local Government Area of Kaduna State



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