By Tordue Salem, Abuja
A bill to jail or sanction heads ministries and agencies of government for failing to provide relevant information for the President-elect and the Vice-President-elect, before they are sworn-in, has scaled second reading in the House of Representatives.
The Bill entitled: Transition and Assumption of Office Bill, 2020”, is sponsored by Rep. Kpam Sokpo(PDP-Buruku)
The long title of the Bill seeks “to provide for the procedure and ceremony for transition and assumption of the Office of the President and Vice-President by the President-elect and Vice-President-elect, and to facilitate the handover process by the outgoing President and Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; and for related matters”.
Upon the declaration of the final results of a Presidential election by the Independent National Election Commission, the Committee shall ensure that the President-elect and Vice-President-elect are provided adequate security.
According to the Bill, “The Committee shall ensure that the President-elect and Vice-President-elect receive security briefings from the relevant national security agencies.
“The President-elect and Vice-President-elect shall, in consultation with the Committee, carry out such preparations as may be necessary for the purpose of assuming office.
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“The President-elect may, in carrying out preparations under subsection (1), request in writing for such information from a public officer as the President-elect may consider necessary.
“A public officer from whom information is requested under subsection (2) shall provide the information within a reasonable time. A public officer who fails to comply with the provisions of this section commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of at least N2,000,000 or to imprisonment for a term of at least two years, or to both”.
The Bill adds that “The Inspector-General of Police and the Chief of Defence Staff shall ensure the provision of adequate security during the conduct of the swearing-in ceremony-in ceremony
“The swearing-in of the President-elect and Vice-President-elect shall be conducted in a public ceremony held in the capital city, Abuja in accordance with the Constitution.
“The Committee shall publish, by notice in the Federal Government Gazette, the date and venue for the conduct of the searing-in ceremony. The day on which the President-elect and Vice-President-elect are sworn-in shall be a public holiday”.
It also provides in section 14. (1) that “The President-elect and Vice-President-elect shall, during the swearing-in ceremony take and subscribe to the oaths of office and allegiance as prescribed by the Constitution.
“The oath under subsection (1) shall be administered to the President-elect and Vice-President-elect by the Chief Justice of Nigeria not earlier than 10.00 am and not later than 2.00 pm”.
It however provides in section (3) that “Where the Chief Justice of Nigeria is absent, the oath under subsection (1) shall be administered by the most senior Justice of the Supreme Court.
(4) Upon taking and subscribing to the oath under subsection (1), the President shall sign a certificate of inauguration in the presence of the Chief Justice of Nigeria or in his absence, the most senior Justice of the Supreme Court”.
It also states in section 15. (1) that “The Office of the President shall prepare a set of comprehensive handover notes covering the term of office of the President as a provider under section 135of the Constitution.
“The notes prepared under subsection (1) shall include –
(a) the handover notes received by the President, Vice-President and Ministers on assuming office; and
(b) notes on the activities of –
(i) the Office of the President and the Office of the Vice-President, and of the agencies under the Presidency, and
(ii) the ministries, departments and agencies.
“The handover notes shall reflect the accurate developments which have taken place during the tenure of office and the projections of development to take place before the end of the full tenure.
(4) The original and five other copies of the handover notes shall be presented to the Coordinator appointed under section 7 (2) not later than 30 days before the date of the presidential election.
(5) The handover notes shall, in addition, be in electronic form.
(6) The Coordinator shall make available to the president-elect the original copies of the handover notes.
(7) The Coordinator shall retain one copy of the handover notes and send one copy respectively to –
(a) the National Assembly;
(b) the Chief Justice of Nigeria;
(c) the Council of State;
Handover of instruments of power and authority
the Federal Ministry of Information for public records and archives”.
The Bill also prescribed for a swearing certificate for the leading occupants of the office, to “Upon signing the certificate of the inauguration, the outgoing President shall hand over to the President, the following instruments of power and authority – a sword; and the Constitution”.
The Bill, in part, seeks to set up an ad hoc committee called the Assumption of Office Committee, that shall consist of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation who shall be the Chairman, the Attorney-General of the Federation, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Information, the Chief of Defence Staff, the National Security Adviser, the Inspector-General of Police, the Chief of Staff to the President; the Deputy Clerk to the National Assembly, the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court; and six persons nominated by the President-elect representing the six geo-political zones of Nigeria, and the Coordinator appointed under section”.
The Bill prescribes in section (3) that “The Chairman of the Committee shall convene the meetings of the Committee as prescribed under this Bill, the Permanent Secretary, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation shall be Secretary to the Committee”.
The Bill also states that “A vacancy in the membership of the Committee shall not affect the decisions of the Committee”, adding that “The quorum for the conduct of the business at a meeting of the Committee shall be two-thirds of all the members of the Committee”
The committee, if the Bill becomes law, shall facilitate “the handover process by the outgoing President and Vice-President to the President-elect and Vice-President-elect, organise for the security of the President-elect and Vice-President-elect, organise for the necessary facilities and personnel for the President-elect and Vice-President-elect, coordinate the briefings of the President-elect and Vice-President-elect by relevant public officers, facilitate communication and information between the outgoing President and Vice-President and the President-elect and Vice-President-elect”.
The committee, as proposed by the Green Chamber, is also expected to “apply the funds provided in this Bill to achieve its objective, prepare a budget setting out the proposed expenditure for the transition and assumption of office of the President-elect and Vice-President-elect; send a copy of its budget to the president”.
The committee as proposed, call also send its budget “ to the Senate and House of Representatives of the National Assembly”, and “may constitute sub-committees to facilitate the achievement of its functions under this Bill”.
The Committee, may also “co-opt into the membership of a sub-committee constituted under subsection (1), persons whose knowledge and expertise are considered necessary for the functions of the Committee”.
Vanguard News Nigeria
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