The Chief of Staff to Senator Ned Munir Nwoko, Dr. Michael Nwoko appeared as a guest on Radio Nigeria’s program “Issues of the Moment” last Tuesday. During the show, he discussed various topics concerning the National Assembly and its functions.

Dr. Michael Nwoko, a public health expert, community/youth development advocate, and senior special assistant to the Governor of Delta State, serves as the Chief of Staff to Senator Prince Ned Nwoko, representing Delta North in the 10th Senate.

During his appearance, Dr. Michael highlighted the bicameral structure of the National Assembly, comprising the Senate and the House of Representatives, which are elected to represent constituents at the federal level.

Addressing a question regarding the National Assembly’s approach to prioritizing needs and detailing his principal’s accomplishments thus far, the chief of staff stated, “When my principal came on board, his first preliminary session was to investigate crude oil theft in the Niger Delta region and investigate the actors, and you can see that action has a resonant effect in the country.

“By raising that motion, I can tell you that a lot of invitations have been made, and the Senate has done a lot to investigate this crude oil theft. The whole idea is to look for a way to end pipeline vandalism. However, the only way this can be achieved is to address the proliferation of illegal refineries in the region.”

Mr. Salem Rock, the presenter of the radio program, posed critical questions to Dr. Michael regarding the passage of bills in the Assembly, pointing out concerns that the bills lack a people-centric approach, with specific mention of those aimed at women’s empowerment being rejected.

“There is always room for constituency briefing and public hearings. Most times, these public hearings are taken down to the grassroots for stakeholders’ participation. Now, looking at the bills, for instance, the process begins from the first reading.

“Three bills of Prince Ned Nwoko have passed the first reading, and one of them is the diaspora voting bill. This one has a resonant effect everywhere because people have talked about it. The moment it is passed into law, it will change the dynamics of Nigerian politics because it will encourage the preponderance of Nigerians in the diaspora to participate in the election process.

“We also have a bill for an act, which is the establishment of Waste Management and Eradication Malaria Agency. If this comes to life, you will agree with me that malaria has been endemic in Africa and will be given better solutions like we did during the COVID-19 pandemic.” He explained.

Responding to inquiries about the firearms bills passed by Senator Prince Ned Nwoko and questioning their suitability for Nigeria’s context, Dr. Michael addressed the pressing need for enhanced security measures in Nigeria. He outlined the challenges posed by rising crime rates and emphasized the importance of equipping security agencies adequately. He defended the proposed amendment to the Firearms Act, stressing the need to empower citizens to defend themselves responsibly.

In his words, “What necessitated that bill is very clear. I believe we have reached a threshold in Nigeria, whereby we need to put on our thinking caps and make a critical decision on how to guarantee security for lives and properties in Nigeria. Truly, in some regions, we are experiencing a breakdown of law and order, with incessant kidnappings and armed robberies in different areas. I am telling you that the security agencies are overwhelmed by the fact that they need to be effectively strengthened with more personnel. Nigeria is a country of over 200 million people, and for you to police a country, policemen need to be deployed to all parts of the country. How many police do we have in Nigeria? The police are overwhelmed. We don’t have the strength to police a nation, and two, the technology is not there for the police to work effectively.

“Technology should be used to fight crime. Do they have the right technology? Or the requisite training? Is the military adequately equipped? Do they have the personnel strength to combat terrorism? Let me take you back to the Ecomog days in the ’90s, early and late ’90s. Nigeria’s armed forces were regarded as one of the best in the world and the strongest in Africa. When there were regional insurgencies, the Nigerian armed forces made up about 75% of Ecomog Troup.

“We have reached a threshold where insurgency is operating in all parts of the country. We have herdsmen clashes, kidnappings, and other heinous activities. So, we now need to make a critical decision, and it is to ensure that Nigerians are given the right to self-defense. This is what led to the amendment to the Firearms Act brought before the Senate. It went through the first reading on 20th February 2024, and I am certain it will go through the second reading and public hearing.

“There is no policy that does not have its challenges. If you look at the bill, it has well-articulated points, and you can come to an irresistible conclusion that is keenly true. Meanwhile, criteria will be put in place to control the use of firearms in the country for self-defense. The criteria include

1. The individual must be trained in a shooting school, manned by a retired army general, who’s knowledgeable on the use of firearms

2. Obtain a certificate of mental fitness from two medical doctors who must have known the individual for about two years

3. Obtain clearance from his traditional ruler that he is of good character

4. Obtain clearance from the LGA Chairman affirming that he is known to be of good reputation

5. Obtain clearance from the police affirming that he has no criminal record

6. Return to the shooting school with reports from the aforementioned for verification and subsequent approval or denial after a period of two months.”

Offering insights into other proposed bills by Senator Ned Nwoko, Dr. Michael discussed the rent bill, which the host acknowledged as one of the most people-oriented bills. The Chief of Staff explained that the legislation aims to enhance fairness, transparency, and accountability within the real estate sector by establishing clear guidelines and responsibilities for landlords and tenants.

He highlighted the common scenario where tenants pay rent upfront for extended periods, only to encounter issues with the property later on, involving individuals, companies, or government entities. To mitigate such risks, the bill proposes limiting upfront rent payments to just one month, thus safeguarding tenants from significant financial exposure in case of unforeseen property-related issues.

Regarding the Senator’s proposed amendment to the CBN Act, Dr. Michael elaborated on the Senator’s stance that, to address Nigeria’s dollar dependency issue, the CBN Act must explicitly prohibit the acceptance of foreign currencies as legal tender within Nigeria. Providing further insight, he explained that the proposed amendment aims to prohibit the discriminatory use of foreign currency for remuneration, services, or transactions by individuals, entities, banks, limited liability companies, or corporations within Nigeria.

The objective is to eliminate the anomalies associated with such payments, which have significantly contributed to the depreciation of the Naira, adversely affecting the economy and overall standard of living. The passage of the bill according to him is expected to rejuvenate the nation’s stagnant economy and facilitate the recovery and steady appreciation of the Naira from its current weakened state.

He also emphasized the lawmaker’s perspective on amending the Minimum Wage Act to establish a unified minimum wage in alignment with the prevailing economic conditions of the nation.



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