The Senate on Wednesday turned down a Bill for an Act to amend the 1999 Constitution to allow persons of African origin to acquire Nigerian citizenship for the purpose of re-integration and development.
It also rejected a Bill for an Act to phase out petrol vehicles in 2035 and introduce electric cars.The two bills were sponsored by Senator Ben Murray-Bruce, PDP-Bayelsa East, but unanimously rejected by his colleagues during plenary.
According to the Senate, it will be impossible for the government to mandate Nigerians to stop the use of petrol vehicles and automatically embrace electric ones.
Its sponsor, Senator Murray-Bruce, however at the plenary withdrew the bill stating that posterity would judge him right for the need to embrace electric vehicles, adding that in no distant time, combustible vehicles would be phased out.
He said: “I can never quarrel with my leaders and friends but I want them to close their eyes and know they are in the 21st century.
“I own an electric car that I have been using for the past five years. It is cheaper to maintain and durable. So, the fears put forward by my colleagues are highly debatable.
“I will withdraw the bill but I want my colleagues to know they do not belong in the 21st century.”
While presenting the bill, Senator Murray-Bruce, said one of the major advantages of the use of electric vehicles is that it would help solve the problem of ozone layer depletion.
In his contributing, the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu said there was no need for a law to be passed for Nigerians to switch from the use of petrol vehicles to electric vehicles.
He said, going down history, people moved from the use of animals as sole means of transportation to use of bicycles, motorbikes, cars and other advanced means of transportation.
According to him, the provisions of the 1999 Constitution which provide for freedom of movement sufficed.
Ekweremadu said: “I congratulate Ben Murray-Bruce for his uncommon common sense and brilliant ideas in the lead debate but what is not common is the need to introduce a law to mandate the use of electric cars.
“If we go down in history donkeys were used as means of transportation and there is no law that caused people to begin to use cars.
“This is ancillary to section 41 of the 1999 Constitution, which requires freedom of movement. So, he should consider taking back the bill.
“Besides, in an economic sense, we are an oil producing country. So, we should do everything possible to frustrate the sale of electric cars in Nigeria to enable us to sell our oil.”
Senator Barau Jibrin, (APC-Kano North) told the Senate that while electric vehicles no doubt would be more friendly to the environment and health, making its use mandatory was not feasible.
Contributing on the citizenship bill, Senator Dino Melaye, PDP-Kogi West said: “The bill is catastrophic in the sense that we all know that Nigeria is nearly 200 million people, and our current growth rate is over two per cent.”
According to him, the country’s population might suddenly rise to 500million if the borders and nationality were to be opened to Africans.
Deputy Senate Leader, Senator Bala Na’Allah, (APC-Kebbi South) also stated that it was wrong for the National Assembly to by law coerce people to become citizens of Nigeria adding that such can only be done through the application.