Ahmed Lawan, president
of the Senate, has assured Nigerians that the obnoxious Hate Speech Bill will
not be passed if the majority of Nigerians do not want it. He gave this
assurance on Monday at Abuja in a press briefing where he gave account of the
Ninth Senate’s stewardship in the past six months.
Lawan had reaffirmed
that the Ninth Senate will only make laws that work for Nigerians. He was asked
to reconcile that to the Hate Speech Bill that seeks to gag the social media,
which has passed second reading in the Red Chamber. “The bill is not going to
be passed without public hearing. I want to assure you that the preponderance
of public opinion will determine the fate of the bill.”
He said that the Senate had been very active in the past six months, providing support for expected good governance “and its record compares favourably to any other before it in the history of our nation.”
The ninth Senate has passed
six Bills into law, four of them members’ bills. The first of these bills is
the Deep Off-shore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contracts Act CAP D3 LFN
2004 (Amendment Bill, 2019.) The Bill was promptly signed into law by President
Muhammadu Buhari on November 4, 2019.
Lawan says “The passage
and signing of this law demonstrates what two institutions can achieve when
they are guided in their actions by patriotism. This law will significantly
increase accruals to the government from crude oil contracts. It has also ended
our years of inexplicable failure to call in returns due to us from our joint
venture partners. As a result of this law, we have expanded a critical revenue
stream and ensured more funds will flow into the treasury that will enable the
government to execute its budgets and critical developmental projects.”
The two executive bills
passed are the Appropriation Bill 2020 and the Finance Bill 2019. The Finance
Bill 2019, passed on November 21, 2019, amended seven existing tax and fiscal
policy laws (Companies Income Tax Act, 2004; Value Added Tax Act, 2007;
Customs and Excise Tariff (Consolidation) Act, 2004; Personal Income Tax Act,
2007; Capital Gains Tax Act, 2007; Stamp Duties Act, 2007; and Petroleum Profit
Tax Act, 2004).
The reform of Nigeria’s
tax system is to enhance its implementation and effectiveness. This
would create an enabling business environment and reduce the tax burden for
Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).
The objectives of the
Promoting fiscal equity by mitigating instances of regressive taxation;
Reforming domestic tax laws to align with global best practices;
Introducing tax incentives for investment in infrastructure and capital
small businesses in line with on-going “Ease of Doing Business Reforms” and;
Raising revenues for the Government.
The Finance Bill also
provides a framework for the 2020 Budget.
For the Appropriation Bill, Lawan explained, “We also promptly passed the Appropriation Bill in line with our commitment to changing the current unhealthy and unpredictable budget cycle to a January to December fiscal calendar. This structural change and the prompt passage of the Appropriation Bill will give the government a full year to implement the budget. We believe this measure will enhance planning, implementation, and monitoring of the budget by the relevant organs and agencies and significantly improve our annual budget performance.”
The three other bills
passed are the Public Procurement Act 2007 (Amendment) Bills, 2019; which sanitized
the public procurement process and curtailed the incidence and influence of
Aside from the six
bills that were passed, Lawan said 185
Bills have also gone through first reading in the ninth Senate, while 32 other
Bills have passed second reading and are now undergoing the necessary further
legislative processes at the relevant Senate Committees.
Asked what he thinks of
the federal character principle enshrined in the constitution and why the
Senate is watching the President repeatedly breach this in his appointments,
Lawan said he believed in the principle and has observed it in the engagement
of his aides. He explained that nobody has written any petition of the breach
of the principle to the Senate.