Buhari shuns Nigerian Peace Corps Bill

THE NEWSGHOST, NIGERIA – President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, has shunned the Nigerian Peace Corps (NPC) Bill for over a 30-day period, constitutionally implying that the president has no interest in assenting to the bill yet.

According to report, the bill was officially dispatched to the president in the last week of December 2017 by the clerk of the National Assembly (NASS), Mr Sani Omolori.

The stipulated 30-day window during which the constitution has prescribed that the president should have signed any bill presented to him has elapsed on January 31, 2018.

This is happening along with the ongoing heat of the tussle between NPC and the Nigerian police.

The police had stormed the national headquarters of NPC on February 17, 2017, and arrested the national leader of the organisation. Since then, the headquarters has been sealed by the police.

The refusal of the president to append his signature on the bill implies that there is no Nigerian law backing the establishment and operation of NPC.

As a last resort to see the bill passed into law, the Senate has to mobilise two thirds of its members to veto the shunning of the bill by the Presidency.

Senator Sabi Abdullahi (APC, North Niger), Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, has said the Senate will do what the constitution specifies in case Mr President refuses to assent the Peace Corps Bill.

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Nigerian lawmaker’s plan to regulate public management and social work practice

There is so much happening at the same time in Nigerian politics than a regular Nigerian can keep up with. Nonetheless, as Nigerians, we must keep up with everything going on in our country, because the entire dynamics of our nation (including its politics) rests on the decisions we make today.

Earlier in the week, while must of us were busy with our respective hustles and committments, President Buhari had refused to assent to several bills that had been passed to him by the lawmakers at Nigeria’s National Assembly (NASS).

I had missed this news too. But just this morning as I walked into a lounge close to where I live in Lagos, I found a recent edition of a local newspaper and decided to flip through its pages before going ahead to do some work on my tablet.

NASS, led by Bukola Saraki, had put forward the said bills to the president after they all passed first and second reading as expected on its floor.

The bills include the Police Procurement Fund Bill (2017), Chartered Institute of Public Management of Nigeria Bill (2017) and Nigerian Council for Social Work Bill (2017).

The Chartered Institute of Public Management of Nigeria Bill

In a nutshell, this bill was intended to ban people who are not members of the named institution from engaging in public management practice in the country.

The Nigerian Council for Social Work Bill

In the same manner, this bill was meant to ban people who are not members of the named institution from participating in social work practice in Nigeria.

President Buhari’s refusal to assent

The president had refused to assent to these bills, however.

Concerning the Chartered Institute of Public Management of Nigeria Bill, the president said that the bill did not clarify the scope of the profession of public management that people who are not members of the institution are to be banned from practising.

And for the Nigerian Council for Social Work Bill, he said the bill also failed to clarify the scope of the profession of social work for which it seeks to prohibit people who are not members of the institution from practising.

In conclusion

I believe it is a good thing that the president has refused to assent to these bills based on the poor provisions that they have presented.

What happens to freedom of association, if these bills are assented to by the president?

Any law that prohibits people who are not members of an institution from freely practising any profession in the country amounts to an outright violation of the rights of the people to freedom of association.

Does it also mean that businesses will be banned from undertaking social work because they are not members of the Nigerian Council for Social Work?

These bills will only end up creating forced association which will limit participation and decision making in the practice of public management and social work.

Although it can be a good idea to have a law that protects people who are practising any of these professions and their respective beneficiaries. But not one that will limit and shortchange them.

If NASS has missed this, they should be reminded.

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Saraki faking commitment to fight corruption in NASS

THE NEWSGHOST, NIGERIA – After meeting Senate President Bukola Saraki on Thursday, Semptember 21, 2017 to discuss issues relating to details of salaries and allowances of lawmakers, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) claims that the commitment to transparency and accountability which Saraki expresses with his words does not match with the actions the Senate is taking to improve transparency and accountability within the National Assembly (NASS).

According to report, this was disclosed in a statement by Timothy Adewale, the deputy director of SERAP, on Friday, Sepetember 22, 2017.

The statement said:

‘While we appreciate the expressed commitment by Saraki to transparency and accountability of the National Assembly, and the rare opportunity to dialogue with him, we remain deeply concerned that the leadership of the Senate has unfortunately not satisfactorily addressed the damaging allegations by Professor Itse Sagay, Chairman Presidential Advisory Committee against Corruption (PACAC), that a Nigerian Senator gets N29 million in monthly pay, and over N3 billion a year.’

The organisation argued in its statement that, ‘There is an apparent discrepancy in some areas between what Saraki said at the meeting and what the Senate is doing in practice to improve transparency of its operations and accountability of members. For example, the Senate President’s response to Sagay’s allegations was simply to refer SERAP to the National Assembly budget for 2017, which is available on its website. However, a careful study of the document shows that it contains only some general information and not specific details that respond directly to allegations raised by Sagay.’

It also explained that:

‘The meeting with Saraki raises more questions than it answers. The Senate budget on its website is incomplete. The absence of specific details on salaries and allowances of each senator not only makes analysis difficult, it also points to underlying weaknesses in monitoring and transparency mechanisms.

‘Without including some level of details, Nigerians may see the published National Assembly budget as nothing more than window-dressing. SERAP hopes that the leadership of the Senate doesn’t want this to be the case—and we certainly see no reason why it should be the case. As we have noted, improved transparency on the exact salaries and allowances of senators and indeed members of the House of Representatives is in the interests of all.

‘In SERAP’s view, rather than referring us to the seemingly incomplete National Assembly budget, the Senate President should have provided a line-by-line response to Sagay’s allegations. It’s important that the leadership of the Senate provides additional information that is lacking from the published budget if it is ever going to satisfactorily clear the air on the issues.’

SERAP insists that it is only through transparency that the Senate can regain the support of their constituents and the trust of the public, and contribute to ending the nation’s damaging reputation for corruption.