ADEBIYI ADEDAPO and SOLOMON AYADO, Abuja
The National Assembly is set to reduce the period within which the president or governor of a state can authorise withdrawal of fund from the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) in the absence of an Appropriation Act from six months to three months.
This is contained in a Bill for an Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to reduce the period within which the president or the governor of a state may authorise the withdrawal of monies from the Consolidated Revenue Fund in the absence of an Appropriation Act from six months to three months; and for related matters has been finalised.
The document exclusively obtained by our correspondent notes that the section is altered by substituting the word six in line 5 with the word three and deleting in lines 5 and 6 the words until the coming into operation of the Appropriation Act whichever is the earlier”.
Section 82 of the 1999 constitution (as amended) provides that “if the Appropriation Bill in respect of any financial year has not been passed into law by the beginning of the financial year, the president may authorise the withdrawal of moneys in the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation for the purpose of meeting expenditure necessary to carry on the services of the Government of the Federation for a period not exceeding six months or until the coming into operation of the Appropriation Act, whichever is the earlier”.
Meanwhile, another Bill for an Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to provide immunity for members of the legislature in respect of words spoken or written at plenary sessions or Committee proceedings and institutionalise legislative bureaucracy in the Constitution and for other related matters is also being considered.
This alteration is aimed at providing immunity for members of the legislature in respect of words spoken or written at plenary sessions or at committee proceedings.
The intent is to allow lawmakers to work independently and unimpeded by the threat of intervention from the other branches of government in the discharge of their legislative duties.
The bill seeks to alter Section 4 of the Principal Act by inserting after subsection (7) a new subsection “(7A)”. (7A) will now state: “In the course of exercising the foregoing legislative powers, no civil or criminal proceedings shall be instituted against a member of a legislative House in respect of words spoken or written before the House or a Committee thereof”.
Another segment of the bill also seeks to compel the president to address a joint sitting of the National Assembly on the State of the Nation on the first legislative day of every month of May.
This alteration is seeking an amendment to Section 67 of the Principal Act by substituting for subsection (1) a new subsection (1)- (1) thus: “The President – (a) shall attend a joint session of the National Assembly on the first legislative day of the month of May of each year to deliver an address in respect of the State of the Nation; and (b) may attend any joint session of the National Assembly, either to deliver an address on national affairs including fiscal measures, or to make such statement on the policy of government as he considers to be of national importance”.
The alteration, according to the lawmakers, is meant to institutionalise the democratic value of cordiality and transparency in governance.
The items are included in the 23 items approved by the special ad-hoc committee of the House of Representatives on constitutional
review headed by the deputy speaker, Hon. Yussuff Sulaimon Lasun.
These amendments have also been approved by a similar committee of the Senate, led by the deputy Senate president, Ike Ekwerenmadu.
Why NASS Requested For 2014 National Confab Report
Meanwhile, fresh facts have emerged as to why the National Assembly directed the executive arm of government to urgently send to it the report of the 2014 National Conference organized by former President Goodluck Jonathan.
The lawmakers had earlier stepped the confab report down from being considered.
LEADERSHIP Weekend gathered that the forwarding of the report to the National Assembly procedurally implies that the lawmakers would deliberate and enact proactive legislative actions on possible measures that would end the agitation for secession in the country.
Former President Goodluck Jonathan had appointed 492 delegates to the National Conference which lasted 151 days at the National Judicial Institute (NJI) on March 17, 2014.
It was gathered that the Senate demanded for the report of the confab, following hate speeches as well as escalating ethnic agitations in some parts of the country which is threatening the peace and unity of the nation.
Consequently, the Senate recently held a crucial session where a motion on the matter was taken and varied issues that are resultant to ethnic agitations were deliberated by the lawmakers.
They enumerated the causes of the escalating clamour for secession and insisted that the 2014 conference report will proffer solutions to the challenges.
The request for the 2014 confab reports followed a motion titled, ‘The need for National Unity and Peaceful Coexistence in Nigeria’ and sponsored by Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan (APC Yobe), and 106 others.
Senator Lawan’s motion had four prayers which were all taken, just as an additional prayer by Senator Mao Ohuabunwa (PDP, Abia North) that the federal government be urged to urgently forward the report of the 2014 conference to the National Assembly for deliberation was also validated.
Senator Adamu Aliero (APC, Kebbi Central) said only the recommendations of the confab report can find solutions to the sectional crisis generating anxiety in the country.
“We are asking that those recommendations of the confab be brought to us. They should be implemented where necessary”, he stated.
The Senate spokesman, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, could not be reached for comment on the matter as of the time of filling this report.