The Senate Wednesday passed a bill seeking to establish the National Food Reserve Agency.
This was sequel to consideration of report to that effect by the upper legislative chamber’s committee on Agriculture and Rural Development. The Chairman of the committee, Senator Abdullahi Adamu (APC Nasarawa West), in his presentation, said the agency, when established, will implement the overall National Food Reserve Policy to ensure a reliable supply of designated commodities in the country.
He said with the existence of the agency, emergency food crises will be taken care of especially during the period of pandemic.
“There will also be a reduction in post-harvest losses as silos, warehouses, equipment, ancillary facilities and other suitable storage facilities will be installed and maintained,” he said.
Before the bill was passed, senators were divided over the powers of the National Assembly to legislate on the establishment of the agency.
Senator Ajibola Basiru (APC, Osun Central) had raised a constitutional matter that the National Assembly did not have the power to legislate on the establishment of the food reserve agency, citing section 4 of the 1999 constitution to back up his argument.
But Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi ( APC Niger North) Ibrahim Gobir ( APC Sokoto East) and Adamu Aliero ( APC Kebbi Central), countered Bashiru’s submission, arguing that the federal parliament is constitutionally empowered to legislate on matter of security and welfare of the people.
They said the agency was needed owing to the acute insecurity across the country, which has had effect on food production.
Senator James Manager (PDP Delta South), said though there is need for the agency due to the situation in the country, sentiments cannot counter effectively the constitutional matter raised by Ajibola Basiru.
He asked his colleagues to step down the consideration of the report to another legislative day.
But Senate President Ahmad Lawan disagreed and ruled that the Red Chamber should go ahead with the legislation.
Lawan said: “From a constitutional point of order our colleague raised that we don’t have such power, I think the National Assembly has such powers. I think the emergency in this country requires that we do everything possible to rescue, protect the lives and property of the people of this country.
“I believe we should go ahead to do our legislation.
“If anyone outside feels that the legislation is wrong, that person can go to the court so that the legislation is nullified and that is one thing with the practice of democracy.
“But I believe that Nigerians at the moment need this kind of legislation.”