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NASS clerk canvasses for financial legislative autonomy, Nass pensions board

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NASS clerk canvasses for financial legislative autonomy, Nass pensions board

The clerk of the National Assembly (CNA) Architect Olatunde Ojo Amos has again canvassed for pragmatic financial independence for the legislative arm of government in compliance with the tenets of democracy and separation of powers.
Speaking in his welcome address at the opening of a two day workshop at Transcorp Hilton in Abuja on Friday he said there is every need for them to continue to push further and harder until that financial autonomy is achieved.
The clerk also canvassed stridently for the
establishment of the National Assembly Pensions Board (NAPB) that will address their peculiarities, just as they have succeeded in having the National Assembly Service Commission (NASC).
“With legislature as an independent arm of government, you will agree with me that ours is a distinct Public service from the conventional type in our
country.

“We are proud to declare that the capacity development of staff has been a constant push on our dash board, believing that parliamentary democracy is meaningless without adequate training and re-training of relevant staff.
“We have demonstrated that the welfare of the legislative Aides in the
National Assembly is paramount, hence we promised and fulfilled the payment of the ‘first 28 days’ for the present crop of Legislative Aides.
“The pragmatic welfare of staff is being tackled with the ongoing synergy with relevant labor unions within the National Assembly.”
“We have already devised durable strategic plan of action in line with our
statutory powers, to benefit our current push and future regulators in
taking the parliamentary and bureaucratic affairs of the National
Assembly to greater heights.
“One of such plan of action is to drastically reduce the amount of papers moving about within the system.
He said the drastic reformation of the bureaucratic system of the National
Assembly is critical in their determination to make things work for the better.
“We have made frantic efforts to make the working environment for
legislative business to be comfortable and conducive; e-
parliament/digitalization and provision of ICT materials are already being given top most priority.”
Hence he said they will introduce e-hansard in the first quarter of 2021, to ease parliamentary briefing in the National Assembly.
“It is a process of verbatim reportage of the proceedings in plenary sessions using modern technology to the fullest.
“Another name for this
initiative is e-governance in action, which l know will be very convenient
for Legislators and watchers of the National Assembly in Nigeria and
everywhere.
“You will agree with me that e-hansard is a most veritable tool in our e-parliament agenda.”
Flowing from the above, the building of ‘Legislative Specialists to
effectively man the process of law making can never be overemphasized.
He said the absolute well-being and happiness of our staff is paramount as the need to make a success of the democratic project is not negotiable.
In a related development  Olatunde also read the riot act to staff of the National Assembly over ethnicity and religious bigotry.

The Clerk spoke on while declaring open the 4th quarter training programme for staff of the national assembly.

He asked them to put their minds to work to improve the national assembly’s bureaucracy.

Ojo urged the national assembly staff to keep to their oath of office promising that they will enjoy trainings that would sharpen their capacities to make the national assembly better in its legislative mandate for the Nigerian state.

He said the training is job specific as those attending the session are procurement staff whose training is in procurement, tendering and Negotiation skill to improve their capacity to meet their schedules.

He said the management of the National Assembly in the 9th Assembly will vigorously pursue training as part of its programme to improve the national assembly workforce.

He said the leadership of the national assembly is passionate about training for the national assembly staff and said all staff of the legislative houses are candidate for training.

His words: “As a product of training and re-training, I believe earnestly on the need for staff to be exposed to different types of training on-the-job, believing that a well-trained individual can never be stagnated, ignorant nor redundant in life. 

“The fact of the matter is that as Public servants under my watch as the Head Bureaucrat in the National Assembly, count yourselves as candidates for profuse training opportunities.

“As Public servants, you need to display absolute and undiluted loyalty and commitment to your schedules in the National Assembly, believing that it is the only panacea that will make all of us succeed individually and collectively. 

“We must not forget our oath of allegiance as it is sufficiently being made clear in the Public Service rules; we must love ourjobs as we love ourselves; we must shun late coming, acts of indiscipline, non-challant attitudes to our duties. We must not allow ourselves to be pulled down or controlled by the negative doctrines of ethnicity, religious sentiments, unnecessary parochialism, backbiting and infighting. 

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Legislature

Its wishful thinking to believe NASS can give new constitution to Nigeria says Omo-Agege

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Its wishful thinking to believe NASS can give new constitution to Nigeria says Omo-Agege

Nigerians should not engage in wishful thinking that the 9th National Assembly will deliver new constitution because it lacks the mandate to do so, the deputy President of the Senate Omo-Agege has indicated.

Omo-Agege spoke when he hosted members of Alliance of Nigerian Patriots in Abuja.

This always contained in a statement issued by Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, to the Deputy President of the Senatw Yomi Odunuga.
The senator who chairs the Senate Adhoc Committee on Constitution Review, stressed that the National Assembly has no powers to replace the current Constitution but can only amend it.

The delegation was led by Ambassador Umunna Orjiako.
The deputy Presidentnof the Senate cited advanced democracies like the United States of America where Nigeria’s presidential system of government was fashioned after as well as Sections 8 and 9 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), saying what is obtainable is piecemeal alteration of the Constitution.

He, therefore, urged those calling for a brand new Constitution to channel their energy towards participating actively in the ongoing amendment of the Constitution by the  Ninth Assembly.
In his words, “One of the issues you raised is the replacement of the 1999 Constitution. I am not so sure that we as a Parliament have the power to replace the Constitution. We can only make amendments. And it is explicit in Sections 8 and 9 of the Constitution on how we can do that and the requisite number of votes required.

“I say that because there are some top attorneys in this country, who for some reason, keep saying that we don’t even need any of this, that we should just bring a new Constitution. We can’t do  that. What we are mandated to do by law is to look at those provisions and bring them up-to-date with global best practices, especially to the extent that it tallies with the views of the majority of Nigerians. So we are not in a position to replace this Constitution but we can only amend.

“But, like I said, most of the issues you have raised here, like zones replacing states, that’s another euphemism for going back to the regions. We will look into that if that is what majority of our people want.

“You talked about devolution of powers. The preponderance of views we have received so far is that those 68 items are very wide and need to shed some weight and move them to the Concurrent Legislative List”. 

He also expressed his opinion on the call by some persons for the scrapping of the upper legislative chamber.

According to him, the country cannot practise unicameral legislature considering its large population.

“One of the issues raised by #EndSARS Protesters was that they should abolish the Senate and merge us with the House of Representatives. We are not in a position to do that. Mr. President is not even in a position to do that as well. Because they believe that he can just by fiat say ‘Senate bye bye. it will now be a National Assembly made up of only the House of Representatives’.

“But, as I said at a different forum, the President does not have such powers and I am not so sure that even we can legislate out the National Assembly,” he said.

He continued: “There are people who believe that yes, we had the 2014 confab report that has been ‘transmitted’ to the National Assembly and there is the El-Rufai Report on Restructuring, 2018, that has been transmitted to the National Assembly and that we should just take them to Mr President for his assent and we have the Constitution amended.

“But that is not how things are done here. We are a country governed by laws and the grundnorm is the Constitution. And the Constitution itself has spelt out what we can do and how we can do it”. 

Concluding, he tasked the group to reach out to other stakeholders across the country.

Earlier, Ambassador Orjiakor called for the reconfiguration of the present 36 states structure into six zones as federating units, drastic cut in the Exclusive Legislative List and expansion of the Concurrent Legislative List, reform of the National Assembly to a hybrid Presidential and Westminster systems, abolition of security votes to be replaced by regular security budget allocations and electoral reforms to ensure a truly independent INEC. 

He also called for limited immunity for entitled public officers in the Executive branch of government, provision for independent candidacy in all elections, creating a consensual balance between meritocracy and federal character among others.

Legislators who joined the Deputy President of the Senate to receive the guests include Senate Minority Leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe and Deputy Minority Whip, Senator Saabi Yau. 

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Legislature

Senate urges FG to investigate deaths caused by strange ailment in Benue 

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Senate urges FG to investigate deaths caused by strange ailment in Benue

The senate yesterday resolved to urge the Federal Ministry of Health, the National Arbovirus and Vector Research Centre (NAVRC) to investigate the outbreak of a strange ailment suspected to be yellow fever in Epeilo-Otukpa and Itabono-Owukpa communities in Benue State that has claimed many lives.The upper chamber also Urge the Federal Ministry of Health to urgently mobilize focal persons to the affected areas to complement the efforts of the Benue State Government in ascertaining the nature of the ailment.This was sequel to a motion on urgent need to deal with the outbreak of a strange ailment suspected to be Yellow Fever, ravaging Epeilo-Otukpa and Itahono-Owukpa communities in Ogbadibo Local Government Area of Benue State.The motion was sponsored by senator  Patrick Abba (Benue SouthThe upper chamber also tasked the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to promptly put up gurveillance to contain the disease and see to the treatment of victims and protect others from further contacting  it.It urge the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), to synergize and support the people of Benue South Senatorial District and in particular the Epeilo-Otukpa and Itabono -Owukpa Communities, to treat, prevent and or reduce the number of cases and deaths.The senate further urged the Federal Ministry of Health to immediately activate and set up a multi-agency yellow fever emergency Operatives Centre (EOC) in Benue South, if the result should be positive for yellow fever.”They should conduct mass vaccination and awareness campaigns in Benue South Senatorial District, being that yellow fever is a completely vaccine-preventable disease as a single shot of the yellow fever vaccine protects for a lifetime.”Senator Moro in his motion had noted with grave pain the outbreak of a strange ailment said to be yellow fever in Epeilo-Otukpa and Itabono communities of Ogbadibo Local Government Area of Benue South Senatorial District, Benue State, Nigeria.He expressed further concern that the strange ailment has not yet been effectively diagnosed by health authorities.He however indicated that the Benue State Ministry of Health and Human Services has been able to intervene to some extent havi e collected samples and sent same to National Reference Laboratory to be able to establish the kind of organism that is causing the ailment and is availing victims of interim treatment.
He expressed saddeness that people the affected people in the rural localities are dying on a daily basis in their numbers with Epeilo and ltabono Communities recording 20 and 25 deaths respectively.He said death toll has been increaseing on hourly bases adding that the disease has been spreading to Ichama in Okpokwu where three deaths have been recorded. 

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Legislature

Finance bill gets accelerated consideration as it passes second reading

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Finance bill gets accelerated consideration as it passes second reading

The Finance Bill, 2020 yesterday got an accelerated consideration for first and second readings in the Senate, barely 24 hours after a presidential letter that demanded for its consideration and passage was recieved by the senate.
The executive bill seeks to support the implementation of the 2021 budget by proposing key reforms to specific taxation, customs, excise, fiscal and other laws. 
It also seeks to amend the Capital Gains Tax Act; Personal Income Tax Act; and Value Added Tax. 
The piece of legislation scaled second reading in the Red Chamber after the lawmakers debated its general principles. 
On the aalue added Tax Section 4 of the VAT Act was amended by increasing the value added tax payable by consumers from 5% to 7.5%. 
According to Section 19 the penalty payable by a taxable person for non-remittance within the specified period has been raised from 5% to 10%. 
Under section 28, the penalty for failure to give notice of change of address or permanent cessation of business was increased from N 5000 to N 50, 000 in the first month and N25000 in subsequent months. 
The bill proposes a new section 8 to cater for the registration of a taxable person upon commencement of business. 
The penalty for failure to register has been increased from N10, 000 to N50, 000 in the first month and from N 5, 000 to N 25, 000 in the subsequent months. 
The new section 15 of VAT introduces a threshold for VAT compliance. Thus companies with turnover of N25, 000, 000. 00 or more shall render their tax on or before the 21st of every month. 
On the Capital Gains Act the bill proposes to amend section 36(2) of the Capital Gains Tax Act to the extent that exemption on tax liability for compensation for loss of office which was hitherto limited to N10, 000 is now extended to N10 million. 
It also proposes a new section 32, which provides that no tax shall apply to any trade or business transferred to a Nigerian company for the purposes of better organization of that trade or business etc. 
This tax exemption is however not applicable if the acquiring company subsequently disposes of the assets within one year of acquiring same. 
On Personal Income Tax Act section 49 of the Act was amended to make the provision of Tax Identification Number (TIN) mandatory for persons intending to open a new bank account for purposes of business operations or for continuation of operation of such bank account.
The mandatory requirement for tax identification number is for accounts being operated for purposes of business transactions. 
Leading the debate on the bill, the Senate Leader Yahaya Abdullahi said it has become imperative that the Nigerian tax legislation is updated frequently to respond to the challenges of today’s business environment.
He said the provisions contained in the Finance Bill are intended to incentivize economic activities to stimulate GDP growth and facilitate increase in the revenue generated 
“If the Nigerian government is determined to generate sufficient revenue to finance its numerous projects and meet the sustainable development goals of eradicating poverty from the country, it is important for the government to take pragmatic steps. Such steps should include devising ingenious means of expanding the tax base and collecting taxes effectively. 
“Tax education and sensitization of the public would go a long way in achieving compliance from taxpayers,” he said. 
The Senate President Ahmad Lawan, after scaling second, referred the bill to the Senate Committees on Finance, Customs and Public Procurement and report back in one week.

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