Nigeria: Hate Speech Bill - Governors Tell NASS to Respect Views of Nigerians

21 November 2019

The Nigeria Governors' Forum (NGF) has advised the National Assembly to hold public hearing on the hate speech bill before it to ensure that views of Nigerians were captured in the passage of the bill.

NGF Vice Chairman and Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal, gave the advice while fielding questions from journalists at the end of the forum's meeting held on Wednesday night in Abuja.

He advised the federal lawmakers to respect the views of Nigerians on the bill.

"I am not sure I have heard any governor come out to say he is in support of death penalty for hate speech," he said.

"I believe the National Assembly should hold a public hearing on that bill, so that due process of lawmaking is followed, so that the views of Nigerians not just the governors will be well captured on that bill.

"They should respect the views of Nigerians in whatever maybe the direction of debate and the eventual passage or otherwise of that bill," Mr Tambuwal said.

Asked of the governors' position on the Finance Bill submitted to the NASS by President Muhammadu Buhari to increase Value Added Tax (VAT) from five to 7.5. per cent, Mr Tambuwal appealed to Nigerians to show more understanding with the Federal Government.

He said that the governors were in support of what would improve the revenue generation drive of both the federal and state governments.

"We are appealing to those who probably have no proper understanding of the contexts of those bills to kindly have a rethink of them and reflect on quantum of work ahead of us.

"As a country and states, we need a lot of resources to turn around infrastructure, to invest in education, healthcare and every sector of our national life.

"There is urgent need of more revenue in Nigeria. So, I appeal that we should should show more understanding with the Federal Government in that regard," he said.

On the December deadline for the implementation of minimum wage issued by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) to state governors, Mr Tambuwal said the various states were engaging labour unions on the issue.

"I am sure it is work in progress. Before December all the states must have finished working out the details on the issue of minimum wage across the federation.

"We are very much committed to the welfare and wellbeing of our workforce and therefore we shall continue to ensure we do our best on what needs to be done."

Mr Tambuwal said the forum received update on the outcome of its meeting in the US with Aliko Dangote Foundation, and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on Human Capital Development with focus on Primary Health Care (PHC).

He said that at the meeting, the governors and the two Foundations expressed commitment to the Seattle Declaration aimed at promoting collaboration to transform PHC at the subnational level in Nigeria.

This according to him includes full implementation of PHC Under One Roof and meeting the requirements of the Basic Health Care Provision Fund.

"To improve efficiency gains across governments and economic activities at the household level, the NGF committed to initiatives to advance value added activities in agriculture, access to finance and women economic empowerment."

Mr Tambuwal disclosed that the governors also received update on the World Bank State Fiscal Transparency Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) programme and discussed modalities to ensure its smooth and accelerated implementation.

"Following a presentation from the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation on the SFTAS Annual Performance Appraisal (APA) mission to States, members committed to working with the Independent Verification Agent (IVA) to ensure that the APA process does not experience delays," he said.

"The forum also held a preliminary consultative session with the World Bank Country Director, Shubham Chaudhuri and his team on the new Country Partnership Framework (CPF) for Nigeria for the period of 2020 to 2024.

"This also include a planned Adolescent Girls Initiative for Learning and Empowerment Program.

"Governors promised to hold a dedicated session to reach a consensus on what matters most for States and a common agenda to improve the wellbeing of all Nigerians."

Mr Tambuwal said that in commemorating the anniversary of the Rights of Children, Peter Hawkins, the Country Representative of the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) made a presentation to the forum where education of Nigeria's children was unequivocally emphasized.

Asked if the forum was looking at ensuring each member state domesticates the Child Right Act, Mr Tambuwal said many states had already passed the law.

"I believe some of the states that have challenges that have to do with religion, culture or others are dealing with them at local level and addressing them.

"The peculiarity depends on the situation of individual state."

The seventh meeting was attended by governors of Sokoto, Yobe, Zamfara, Kebbi, Nasarawa, Niger, Imo, Adamawa, and Kwara.

Other states such as Gombe, Enugu, Edo, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Oyo and Ebonyi were represented by their deputy governors.(NAN)

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