Constitution Review, N37bn NASS Renovation…17 Things NASS Must Address On Resumption – CISLAC

The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) has tasked the National Assembly on seventeen “critical issues” it must address as it resumes legislative activities for the year 2020 on Tuesday, January 28.

Both the upper and lower legislative chambers of the National Assembly had adjourned for Christmas recess on December 20, with the assurance to ensure the implementation of the N10.59 trillion 2020 budget when they resume plenary in the new year.

CISLAC, in a statement by its Executive Director, Auwal Ibrahim Musa, on Tuesday, called the attention of the legislative arm to its set out agenda to guide its operations in the next four years.

While commending the National Assembly for some recent feats, including the return of budget cycle to January-December, the passing of Finance Bill, 2019 (now Finance Act) and the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contracts Act Amendment Bill (the Act), the  group identified seventeen issues that require “urgent legislative attention” to include matters bordering on legislation, oversight activities and constituency outreach.

Some of the issues include the creation of constitution review committee, the proposed N37 billion for NASS rehabilitation, as well as the controversial Hate Speech and Social Media Bills.

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The statement said, “In the spirit of commendations, we would like to draw attention of the legislature to critically issues including the awaiting creation of Constitution Review Committee to address critical and contentious issues in the Constitution; representing reviewed legislative framework for Electoral Reforms Amendment Bill, particularly electronic voting as Section 52(2) of the Bill, to give credibility and transparency to electoral process; verbal approval of the $29.96 billion loan request forwarded to the Senate by President Muhammadu Buhari in November, without due diligent and thorough scrutiny by the Senate.

“We are worried by the continued silence of the Assembly on the long-delayed Petroleum Industry and Governance Bill (PIGB), which seeks to increase government revenue from oil and lay down a strengthened legal and regulatory framework for the Nigerian oil industry.

“We are surprised by the emerging effort by the Assembly to provide a legal backing in shrinking civil space in the country through legislative frameworks in the Senate like Hate Speech and Social Media Bills.

“We find the appropriation and subsequent approval of whopping sum of N37 billion for NASS rehabilitation in the Appropriation Act, as approved by President Buhari, worrisome despite underfunded critical sector of the economy like health, education and agriculture as well as dilapidating infrastructure facilities across the country,” it said.

The seventeen issues identified by CISLAC as needing urgent attention are:

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On Legislation:

  • Prioritise amendment to Electoral Reforms Act to promote credibility and transparency in the electoral process;
  • Expedite urgent action on Constitutional Amendment to resolve certain fundamental issues;
  • Ensure full domestication of Pending Global and Regional Anti-Corruption Instruments to ensure more coordination and result-oriented approach in anti-corruption fight;
  • Ensure prompt reform of the security sector;
  • Revisit Asset Recovery and Proceed on Crime Bills to provide a legal and institution frameworks for confiscation, seizure and recovery and management of assets or proceeds derived from unlawful activities;
  • Review and revisit Petroleum Industry and Governance Bill (PIGB) to promote transparency, accountability and governance, as well as curtail monumental financial losses in our nation’s oil and gas sector;
  • Provide a legislative backing to the Beneficial Ownership Register on Petroleum sector recently released by the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) with an extension to other sectors of the economy to ensure sustainability and avert policy summersault;
  • Consider introduction of a legislation to provide a legal backing to the establishment of special courts or strengthen existing courts to expedite justice in corruption through legislative amendments;
  • Provide legislative backing to ensure compliance to various legislative frameworks in the country including Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, Public Procurement Act, National Health Act, and NEITI Remediation;
  • Strengthen the Accountant General Office to ensure to ensure compliance to various recommendation by the Office and promote accountability in the allocation and utilisation of public fund;
  • Create National Assembly Budget Office to engage budget scrutiny with thorough recommendations to the Assembly on Appropriation Bill.

On Oversight activities:

  • Intensify legislative oversight to block financial leakages in government;
  • Charge its relevant Committees to exhaustively investigate the reported cases of bribery and corruption.
  • Strengthen oversight on Defence sector as a panacea to restore integrity, reduce leakages and promote accountability in the sector;
  • Through oversight function, engage thorough reconciliation of Defence budget with specific attention to the performance, and constructive audit of performance of various military operations with specific interest in prompt closure of outdated/expired operations across the country;
  • Ensure Basic Health Care Provision Fund is actualised through the 2020 Appropriation Act to provide minimum health care package and revitalise Primary Health Care facilities across the country;

On Constituency Outreach:

  • Develop a framework for constituency engagement and consultation to ensure full participation of electorates and to understand of constituency project implementation.
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