The Nigerian Senate held closed door meeting that lasted for two hours with the Service Chiefs in view of the prevailing security situation in the North East part of the country.
The meeting chaired by the President of the Senate Senator Bukola Saraki had in attendance other principal officers of the Senate and Chairmen of security related Committees.
Although journalists were not allowed into the venue of the meeting, the Leader of the Senate, Senator Ali Ndume, who spoke briefly to journalists, said that the issues discussed could not be revealed to the public because they were top security matters.
He however, expressed the satisfaction of the Senate as this was the first time the upper legislative chamber was being fully briefed on matters of Security.
“We have been briefed properly but these are security issues we cannot really disclose any of it.
Unlike before, the Senate was not abreast or updated on the efforts they are making: now we have very full, honest, open and transparent discussion on the activities. This is a security meeting that we just had, it will be wrong for me to disclose the details.
We are satisfied because we have never had this kind of briefing before, we are part of it now, we know what the problem is, and we know what the challenges are”.
The Service Chiefs present were Chief of Defence Staff, Maj. Gen. Abayomi Olonishakin, Chief of Army Staff, Maj. Gen. Tukur Buratai, Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas and Chief of Air Staff, AVM. Sadique Abubakar.
In another development, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has challenged the management of the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Limited to put an end to gas flaring in the country.
According to a statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the Senate President, Sanni Onogu, in Abuja, Saraki who stated this when the Management of the NLNG, led by its Managing Director, Babs Omotowa visited him in Abuja, said it was high time the gas being flared is converted to something more productive as well as ensure the use of cleaner energy in the country.
He also called on the NLNG to invest in gas infrastructure to facilitate the distribution of cooking gas across the country and to eliminate the use of kerosene as cooking energy.
Saraki said: “Up till today, the area of concern is still the issue of gas flaring. What can we do by way of laws to try and see how we can completely eliminate gas flaring and provide more opportunities for more investors in that sector so that they can convert gas into something more productive.
“That also talks about the issue of cooking gas and I believe you can still do more there. I believe you are doing your best within the confines of your responsibilities. I think you all know that this is an important area for all of us as a country – the infrastructure, which I know is not your direct responsibility,
“I believe that you can think out of the box and come up with some ideas where you can use your deeper pockets to come up with some infrastructure solutions where so as to take the lead. Government would find ways of providing the incentives because without the infrastructure we will not be able to push more of the cooking gas.
“And nobody is in a better position than you to really drive that area of cleaner energy for us and help us reduce the use of kerosene. So I am going to challenge you on that area that you come up with something and the National Assembly will be ready to support whatever you come up with,” he said.
The Senate President also noted that the NLNG represents a success story of the collaboration between the private sector and government and how it can work given the right law to provide the enabling environment and also given the right management and structure.
He said: “It gives us great pride to see that NLNG is now largely run by Nigerians and it has continued to sustain the foundation laid previously by more expert management but now with Nigerians and you still continue to sustain that, I think that is good to hear.”
The Managing Director of the NLNG, Babs Omotowa, said that the uncertainties in the nation’s business environment has made it difficult to attract and sustain investments in the gas sector.
He said he was positive that the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) when passed by the 8th Senate would encourage more investments in the sector.
Omotowa said: “I am pleased that you mentioned that the PIB is receiving attention because for many years this was a problem in the industry.
“You also mentioned that a lot more value can be derived from gas. In fact, Nigeria is described more as a gas province than an oil province but unfortunately, because we have not had the right environment, there have been very little investments into it.
“I think the kind of incentives that was granted to the NLNG are the kind of things I think the National Assembly can always look at to incentivize investments,” he said.