The ongoing amendments to the National Broadcasting Commission Act and the Nigerian Press Council Act before the House of Representatives have not been suspended, LEADERSHIP can authoritatively report.
The sponsor of the bill and chairman, House of Representatives committee on Information, National Orientation, Ethics and Values, Hon Olusegun Odebunmi Dokun, had on Tuesday said the process was suspended to allow more consultation with the stakeholders.
But LEADERSHIP gathered that the committee did not at any time tinker with the idea, let alone suspending the process as widely reported.
Although Odebunmi has refused to make further comments on the controversial bills, a member of the committee who spoke with our correspondent said the chairman could not have suspend the process of lawmaking on his own without recourse to the House.
“What has been suspended, how? Was it ever discussed anywhere? I believe you have been here and you should know if such a decision has been taken. I do not know what the source of that report is, but the chairman cannot on a television programme announce suspension of a lawmaking process; that’s not the rule,” the Committee member said.
The source, however, explained that Odebunmi’s comment that the bills are still opened for stakeholder’s engagement might have been misconstrued to mean that the bill was suspended.
“If you remember the day we had the public hearing some stakeholders requested for three weeks to make their contributions, and the chairman said he was even willing to grant more than three weeks so that all the stakeholders can submit their memorandum and contribute to the ongoing amendment process. I think that is what the chairman reiterated on the television show,” the source added.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has directed the Nigerian Navy to immediately suspend the forthcoming pre-screening exercise for the shortlisted candidates to strengthen the federal character law as well as to ensure better and more vigorous enforcement and implementation.
The House also directed the Navy to provide details of all recruitment from 2014 to date showing the geographical spread.
At the same time, it mandated its committee on Navy to investigate the exercise and recommend appropriate measures to avoid similar constitutional violations in all future government recruitment.
The committee is expected to report back to the House within 12 weeks for further legislative actions.
The House, while considering a motion of urgent national importance on an alleged violation of the federal character principle in the recruitment, said it constitutes a breach of section 14 of the 1999 Constitution.
According to the motion sponsored by the member representing Ethiope federal constituency of Delta State, Hon Ben Rollands Igbakpa, the Nigerian Navy shortlisted 44 candidates for the 2021/2022 recruitment exercise and have scheduled a pre-screening exercise for the candidates before their full induction into Nigeria Naval Service.
Igbakpa in the motion noted that all the successful candidates that are to report for training in 2 batches at the Nigerian Navy Basic Training School Onne, Port Harcourt, Rivers State are all from a particular part of the country which negates the Federal Character principle of all-inclusiveness, equity and fair play.
According to him, section 14 (3) of the 1999 Constitution provides that all appointments must reflect Federal Character.
He stated that “the underlying purpose of the principle in a multi-ethnic society as Nigeria is to ensure equal participation of the various ethnic extractions in the governance of the country.
“The Principle is also aimed at preventing the domination by one or some ethnic groups in the affairs of the country and the exclusion of other ethnic groups.
“However, in practice, the Principle appears to have been observed more in breach. Appointments and recruitments into the various ministries, departments, and agencies both at the federal and state levels by successive administrations seems to be treated as a matter of political discretion and those with the appointment and recruitment powers do not feel a legal duty to ensure an equitable spread of appointments and recruitments into the various government bodies, ” he added.
Senate Passes Electoral Bill Today
Meanwhile, barring any last-minute change of plan, the Senate and the House of Representatives will today consider a report on the Electoral Act (Amendment) 2021 and thereafter pass the piece of legislation into law.
The Senate committee on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), chaired by Senator Kabiru Gaya (APC, Kano South), which worked on the Bill submitted its report to the Senate at plenary yesterday.
The report is expected to be listed for consideration and eventual approval by the Senate on the next legislative day, which is today.
The chairman of the Senate committee on Rules and Business, Senator Sadiq Umar (APC, Kwara North), confirmed that the report will be scheduled on the Senate’s order paper for consideration on today.
Also, the House Representatives is poised to pass the amendments to the 2010 Electoral Act (as amended) today.
The House received the report of its committee on Electoral Matters today and it is expected that a clause to clause consideration of the report will be done today (Thursday) as promised by the speaker.
It is, however, not clear whether the House will suspend its rules to take the 3rd reading and final passage of the bill before adjourning for annual recess today.
While laying the report, chairman of the committee, Hajia Aishatu Dukku, lauded Gbajabiamila for keeping to his promise of ensuring that the report is laid before the recess.