Railways Bill becomes law after Presidential assent

President Muhammadu Buhari has signed into law the Constitutional Amendment Bill sponsored by the Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, granting states in the country powers to construct railways.

The law titled a Bill for an Act to alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (As amended) to provide that the Federal Government and the State Governments shall have concurrent legislative powers on Railway and to provide for matters related thereto, 2021 was among the 16 Constitutional Amendments signed into law by Mr.President on Friday.

The Railway Constitutional Amendment is part of the Abia-North Lawmaker’s contribution to the fifth alternation to the Constitution, aimed at boosting the nation’s transport system which means states can now build their own rail tracks and introduce trains for Intra-State Transport among others, so as to decongest the roads.

Kalu’s contribution in reshaping the highest laws of the country will further relieve teeming commuters and reduce the number of accidents on the country’s roads. It will further reduce the cost of human and cargo transportation as rail transport is globally cheaper than road transport.

With the Presidential assent, the rail transportation has been removed from the Exclusive List to the Concurrent List, making it possible for states to invest in the infrastructure.

According to a confirmatory statement issued by Senator Babajide Omoworare, Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters-Senate, the President signed into law 16 bills including Kalu’s Bill which stood at No. 16.

The highlights of the assented Constitutional Alteration Bills, amongst others, are: ensuring financial independence of State Houses of Assembly and State Judiciary; regulating of the first session and inauguration of members-elect of the National and State Houses of Assembly and for related matters; and ensuring that the President and Governors submit the names of persons nominated as Ministers or Commissioners within 60 days of taking the oath of office for confirmation by the Senate or State House of Assembly; and for related matters.

Other highlights are: enabling states to generate, transmit, and distribute electricity in areas covered by the national grid; and for related matters; excluding the period of intervening events in the computation of time for determining pre-election matters petitions etc; regulating the first session and inauguration of members-elect of National and State Assemblies; changing prisons to correctional service and re-designating correctional service in the concurrent list.

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Senate bill proposes jail term for parents who refuse to enrol children in schools

The new Senate bill makes provision for free education for students from primary to junior secondary school levels.

The Nigerian Senate has commenced the processing of passing a bill that recommends a fine or imprisonment for parents and guardians who default in enrolling their wards for primary and junior secondary school education.

Proposed by Senator Orji Kalu (APC-Abia North), the bill titled, ‘Compulsory free Universal Basic Education Act 2004, Section 2,’ mandates governments at every level to provide free, compulsory, and universal basic education for every child of primary and junior secondary school age.

The proposed piece of legislature, which has already passed the first reading on the floor of the Red Chamber, also recommended free meals should be provided for every child in the country.

According to the act, “Every parent shall ensure that his child or ward attends and completes his primary school education and junior secondary school education by endeavouring to send the child to primary and junior secondary schools.

It further states that “stakeholders in education in a local government area shall ensure that every parent or person who has the care and custody of a child performs the duty imposed on him under section 2(2) of this Act.”

The act specified that any parents found contravening the earlier prescription should be liable, on the first conviction, to be reprimanded.

Reading further, the act says, “On a second conviction, a fine of 2,000 or imprisonment for a term of one month or both; and on subsequent conviction, to a fine of 5,000 or imprisonment for a term of two months or to both.”

However, the Senate has amended the proposed fines previously stated in the act and introduced stiffer financial penalties for any defaulter.

The amendment states that “Section (4) (b) of the Principal Act is amended by deleting 2,000 and inserting 20,000. Section (4) (c) of the Principal Act is amended by deleting 5,000 and inserting 50,000.

“Section 3(2) of the Principal Act is amended by deleting 10,000 and inserting 100,000.

In addition, it noted that “A person who receives or obtains any fee contrary to the provisions of subsection (1) of this section commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding N10,000 or imprisonment for a term of three months or to both.

“Every parent shall ensure that his child receives full-time education suitable to his age, ability and aptitude by regular attendance at schools.”

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Abia state

Abia-North: Kalu completes Abam Pry sch’l, distributes school bags, learning materials across district

As part of efforts to improve the learning standards of students across his senatorial district, senator representing Abia North, Orji Uzor Kalu has completed the reconstruction of a block of three classrooms at Abam, Arochukwu LGA.

The school, Amaeke Abam Primary School, forms part of other numerous infrastructure projects in Abia already completed and delivered as captured in the 2023 appropriation bill.

To consolidate his efforts, Kalu won re-election into the 10th Senate,also commenced the second phase of the distribution of school bags, text books and stationeries to students across the five local government areas to aid their learning processes.

The newly completed learning structure adds to others already delivered within the first quarter of the year. They include two to three blocks of classrooms each at Amuvi Primary School; Command Day Primary School; Amaekpu Ohafia Community School and Agboji Abiriba Primary school all located at Arochukwu, Ohafia and Bende LGAs respectively.

At St. James Presbyterian Academy, Ndi Oji Abam, Arochukwu where the distribution of the learning materials first took place, the school proprietor, Ogonnaya Emmanuel offered words of appreciation and prayers to Senator Kalu.

Addressing Kalu’s representatives sent to supervise the exercise, Ogbonnaya assured that the materials would be utilised judiciously by the students. The school head also said that the newly completed learning structures would ease the teaching and learning processes of both the teachers and students.

“I have nothing but appreciation for Senator Kalu, I pray that God continues to bless him more. He has continued to remember us at the Senate and these materials will go a long way for these students because many can’t afford to buy them due to the current state of the economy,” he said.

Other beneficiaries of the ongoing distribution are Ovukwu Central school, Ndi Oji Abam and Community primary school, Ndi Oji Abam both in Arochukwu L.G.A.

Also , Mr. Eke Kalu Elekwa who represented the Head teacher of Community Primary School Ndi Oji Abam thanked Kalu for his benevolence towards the pupils thereby relieving parents from the burden now that the economy is not friendly.

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Kalu rated highest among Abia lawmakers with 25 bills 

With 25 legislative bills standing in his name, Orji Uzor Kalu, a first time senator from Abia State, who made his entry to the Senate in 2019, has been rated highest in bill sponsorship among other senators from the South East.

As reported on Tuesday by Nigeria’s parliamentary multimedia platform, Kalu has sponsored more bills at the nation’s apex parliament than his Abia State counterparts.

Using the 2019-2022 cumulative legislative tenure of the 9th Senate and Kalu’s bills, the Senate chief whip exceeded his colleagues by 67 per cent compared with Theodore Orji (10 bills) and Enyinnaya Abaribe (two bills) who have spent eight and 12 years respectively at the Red Chambers.

Asides discharging his constitutional elected responsibility with his bills driving streak, Kalu, the 62-year-old lawmaker representing Abia North, has also bagged prestigious awards from notable organisations in recognition of his infrastructure and empowerment drive for his constituents which has been described as superlative coming from a first time senator.

As published by OrderPaper, some of Kalu’s notable bills among the 25 include: A bill for an Act to amend the administration of criminal justice Act 2015 and other related matters bill 2020; A bill for an Act to establish the national food bank and to provide for matters connected with or incidental to the foregoing, bill 2021; A bill for an Act to alter the constitution of the Federal Republic Of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) to provide that the Federal Government and the state governments shall have concurrent legislative powers on railway, and to provide for matters related thereto 2021.

Kalu a chieftain of All Progressives Congress (APC) was elected to the Senate in 2019 in the National Assembly.

In the report, the media organisation x-rayed the legislative performance of the 12 Abia lawmakers in the National Assembly. OrderPaper Nigeria highlighted the scorecard of senators and members of the House of Representatives from the state. The piece was focused on their performance in the area of bill sponsorship over the last three years (2019-2022).

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