The upper chamber of the National Assembly on Tuesday barred some journalists from covering plenary at the resumption of legislative activities.
The plenary was held at the Hearing Room 022 that served as makeshift chamber.
The lawmakers, who resumed plenary after two months recess, were relocated to a temporary venue due to the ongoing renovation of the main chamber.
While the lawmakers have nine months to the end of their tenure, the renovation work of the chamber is expected to be completed in August 2023.
The journalists, who were at the National Assembly early, were barred from the makeshift chamber, except four cameramen and about six reporters.
The over 70 journalists, who also cover the Senate, were asked to rely on their colleagues, who were granted access into the gallery for information on the proceedings.
Some members of the National Assembly, have, however, expressed concern, noting that the Hearing Room 022, which serves as makeshift, used to house more than 40 broadcast organisations during public hearings and has now been trimmed to few media houses.
Appealing to journalists, Ola Awoniyi, the Media Aide to the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, urged them to bear with the situation.
He explained that the decision to restrict access to the makeshift chamber was a result of space constraint, adding that the restriction would be temporary as the ICT and engineering services were working on sending feeds through the official television of the National Assembly (NASSTV) to the television in the media centre.
The Senate at its plenary, during resumption, has listed areas of interest in the next three months.
The Senate, which has just nine months to complete its tenure, vowed to work with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure successful, transparent and credible elections in 2023.
In his speech, the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, said, “In the next three months our focus will largely be on the confirmation of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, work on Medium Term Expenditure Framework/ Fiscal Strategic Paper (MTEF/FSP) 2023– 2025, budget 2023, working to support our defence and security forces, amongst others.
“The Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria will be screened tomorrow, Wednesday 21st September, 2022. Also, we are expecting Mr. President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces to present the budget estimates in the first week of October.”
On the 2023 elections, Lawan said, “The National Assembly will work with Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure very successful, transparent and credible elections. We are ready to support INEC in all possible ways as a legislature. Already, the timely amendment of the Electoral Act 2022 has provided very important innovations in ensuring better electoral climate.”
Lawan, who agreed that the economy of the country is still challenged, noted that the loss of revenue is threatening to throw the economy into a coma.
He said, “The massive loss of revenue through oil theft is debilitating and threatening to throw the economy into a coma. Revelations about the scale of oil theft shows that, until government takes decisive actions, Nigeria could soon lose any revenue from that sector. We must therefore work to ensure that everything is done to curtail this theft.
“Our focus must remain on ensuring a secured and safe country and an economy that works for all citizens. In the next nine months, our attention and devotion should bring improvement to the current situations.”