Buhari rejects five bills, gives reasons

President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government unilaterally -- without required consultation with states and the national assembly-- tampered with the NLNG funds.
President Muhammadu Buhari

Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, has declined assent to five bills passed by the lawmakers.

The bills are Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission Amendment Bill (RMAFC), 2018; Bankruptcy and Insolvency Bill, 2018 and Federal Polytechnic Amendment Bill, 2018.

Others are Maritime Security Operations Coordinating Board Amendment Bills 2018 and Energy Commission Amendment Bill, 2018.

His decision to reject the bills was conveyed in separate letters dated January 4, addressed to the senate president.

In the letter, which was read out by the deputy senate president, Ike Ekweremadu, Mr Buhari gave reasons as to why he declined assent to the bills.

For the (RMAFC) Bill, he said the bill will interfere with and obstruct the motive and administration of revenue generating agencies of the federal government.

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He also said the bill will confer the powers of oversight of the revenue currently vested in the President and Minister of Finance to the commission and negate the existing provision of section 51 of the Federal Inland Revenue Services.

“The proposed insertion in a section 6 (a) of the bill with regards to the removal of earns of generating revenue agencies needs to be harmonized with the various establishment acts of these agencies which contains specific terms and procedures for the removal of chief executive officers,” he added.

For the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Bill, he said there are drafting issues that affect the clarity and understanding of the bill and may impede the effective operation of the bill.

“For instance, Section 65 (1) imposes a duty on a banker to report the existence of the account of an undischarged bankrupt to the trustees as it is incumbent on the banker to both ascertain that the customer is an undischarged bankrupt and also locate the relevant trustee to provide the information about the account of such customer.

“This obligation creates operational difficulties. The duty of a banker to disclose information about accounts is better and it should be predicated on a request for information and trustee. Also, a number of provisions in a bill to be properly domesticated and aligned to Nigerian law for instance:

“i. Section 87 capital stock should read capital. ii. Section 87 (128, 147, 253, 264, 270) sub section 30 b to c and 270 (4) (a to b) should be changed to company which is what section 271 defines.

“iii. In section 124 (1) (d), the reference to dollar should be replaced with naira and 2000 dollars should be N2000. iv. In section 162 (a), the reference to cents on dollar should be amended to read kobo and naira,” he said.

The president further said the relationship between the corporate insolvency provisions of the bill and existing provisions of winding up and insolvency under the Companies and Allied Matters Act needs to be clarified to avoid confusion in respect to the applicable governing corporate insolvency.

For the Federal Polytechnic Amendment Bill, he said Section 16 (1) and (2) of the amended bill which subjects the removal of governing council members to rectors of polytechnics on the approval of the Federal Executive Council, as a body instead of the president’s approval as it is obtained in principle act, makes the removal process more administrative cumbersome.

He also said Section 3 (f) of the amendment bill which leaves membership of the governing council of polytechnics as consisting of representatives of the ministry or regulatory body is not acceptable and this, he explained, may ultimately jeopardize the supervisory role of the ministry or the council.

“It is desirable that the ministry’s presence on the council is clear and unambiguous.”

For the Maritime Security Operations Coordinating Board Amendment Bill, he said the proposed amendments will create distortions and duplications with the functions and operations of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).

He, thereafter, urged the Senate to focus on passing the Suppression of Piracy and other Maritime Offences Bill, to achieve a more comprehensive review of operations in the maritime sector within the objective of realigning its agencies for more efficient service delivery and focus on the security of our maritime frontiers.

And for the Energy Commission Amendment Bill, he said the proposal in section 8 of the bill for the Energy Commission to receive an annual subversion of not less than 0.5 percent from the federation account is “unconstitutional” as it negates the clear provisions of the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended with regards to appropriations and disbursements from federation accounts.

He also said the bill infringes on the Rural Electrification Agency’s power to carry out its mandate in particular reference to the promotion and development of unserved and under-served rural communities across Nigeria.

Mr Buhari also transmitted the Food Safety and Quality bill, 2018, for consideration and passage into law.

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