By Musa Baba Adamu
The Senate, on Wednesday, passed a bill seeking to establish the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) after considering report of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development on the subject.
In his presentation, Chairman of the Committee, Senator Abdullahi Adamu (APC, Nasarawa West), said the National Food Reserve Agency Bill seeks to develop the agricultural sector by ensuring national food security and income through marketing and storage services, as well as address emergency food crisis.
“The time is apt to put machine ties in place for the development of the agricultural sector. The National Food Reserve Agency Bill is one of the tools to make this possible, especially in a period of flood, famine and other emergency situations.
“The bill recognizes the need to fill the apparent gap in Agricultural Development and coordination of programmes and projects in the country with the collaboration of National and International Agencies.”
The Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege (APC, Delta Central), while lending his voice in support of the consideration and passage of the bill said: “In addition to situations where there’s inconsistencies or conflict with the provisions of laws made by the Houses of Assembly, if the National Assembly were to move first, as is being done here now by the Committee, then the Houses of Assembly, even though they have the power provided here under the concurrent provision of the constitution, then that field is already covered.
“[And] there’s a pre-emption already, meaning they can no longer make any law with respect to this subject matter.”
A member of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Sam Egwu (PDP, Ebonyi North), on his part asked that the bill to be stepped down pending when further clarifications are made regarding the interference in the powers of the state assemblies with regards to the bill.
Another lawmaker, Opeyemi Bamidele, appealed that the matter be stepped down for another legislative day to allow the Committees on Agriculture and Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters to meet on the bill.
However, the Senate President while delivering his ruling said, “Distinguished Colleagues, I have listened to all the interventions and, honestly, my understanding is we can legislate.
Lawan added: “I am convinced that we should rather legislate to protect the country by way of ensuring that there is food reserve at any time, than allow it just open like this for anybody to just legislate at the state level, which I’m sure will be looking up to the federal government for some kind of support and assistance.”
The bill was, thereafter, passed after a clause-by-clause consideration.