Reps approve 6-month jail term, N10m fine for frustrating smooth transition of power

• Propose N100m budget for transition ceremony • Approve appointment of Administrator-General

In its quest to ensure the smooth transition of power by successive governments, the House of Representatives on Tuesday approved 6-month jail term, N10 million fine or both for any person who frustrates the smooth transition of power in Nigeria.

This was part of the recommendations adopted at the Committee of the Whole, in the proposed Presidential (Transition) Bill, 2019, sponsored by Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila.

According to the Explanatory Note of the bill, it “seeks to make provision for the smooth and orderly transfer of power from one Government to another.”

The 5-page report obtained by Nigerian Tribune, the bill empowers the outgoing President to appropriate to the Administrator-General such funds as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of this Bill not exceeding the sum of N100 million for anyone Presidential transition for the fiscal year in which the transition occurs.

Accordingly, the incumbent President shall include in the budget transmitted to the National Assembly for each fiscal year in which his term of office expires a proposed appropriation for carrying out the purposes of this Bill.

It however provided that “in the event that the incumbent President is re-elected, the funds so appropriated shall not be disbursed.”

Under the provisions for ‘Criminal Liability’, the bill provides that: “Any person who violates any provision of this Bill by failing to provide the necessary facilities required to be provided under this Bill or fails to provide any required documents thereby frustrating the efforts of the transition team shall upon conviction be liable to a fine of N10 million or a term of imprisonment of not less than 6 months or to both fine and imprisonment as the case may be.

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Clause 1 of the bill provides that: “When at any general election for the Office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the incumbent President is not re-elected, the President shall within 2 weeks of the declaration of the President-elect as the winner of the election provide space for not more than 10 persons designated by the President-elect to begin a review and analysis of budgeted expenditures during the tenure of the current President, review all other necessary documents as may be requested by the President-elect’s transition team and to acquire a working knowledge of the various offices, departments, commissions, boards and other agencies of the executive arm of the Federal Government with a view to promote the orderly transition of the executive power in connection with the expiration of the term of office of a President and the inauguration of a new President.”

Clause 2 of the bill also provides that: “The President shall also constitute his transition team who must cooperate with the President-elect and the staff he so designated and provide any assistance that may be reasonably requested.

(3) The provisions of this section shall apply at all times after each general elections whether or not the power change is within the same party or from one party to another.

(4) For the purpose of this Bill, the President shall include the Vice President and the President-elect shall include the Vice President-elect.

Under the ‘Provision of assumption of office facilities’, the incumbent President is obligated to: “provide for the President-elect in connection with the preparation for his assumption of office as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria the following facilities: Office space well-furnished and equipped with all relevant machines and electronics within the Presidential Villa to enhance smooth working relationship with the President’s team; such equipment shall include but not limited to computers/laptops, printers, binding machines, papers, communication services to aid the transition team in achieving the objectives of this Bill.

“Payment of allowances for members of the President-elect’s team at such rate as may be determined by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission to cater for the team, and such rate must not exceed what is obtainable in the civil service.”

The bill further provided that “any employee of any agency or department of government may be drafted to be part of the transition team of either of the President or President-elect and he shall continue to be entitled to such compensation provided by law for his regular employment and shall be entitled to the rights and privileges associated with his regular employment without any interruption.”

It further provides that in appointing the Transition Team, the President-elect shall consider key areas requiring professional/expert input to the extent that extra funds shall not be provided by the state to hire the services of Professionals outside the Transition team as well as payment of travel expenses and subsistence allowances.

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