HB 24: Nigerian Agency for Foreign Assistance Bill, 2015

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Sponsor:

Hon. Gideon Lucas Gwani

Bill Status: Awaiting Committee Report

  • First Reading: 13/08/2015
  • Second Reading: 01/12/2016
  • Committee Referred To: Committee on Foreign Affairs
  • Consolidated with:
  • Date Reported out of Committee:
  • Third Reading:

Bill Analysis:

SHORT TITLE

Nigerian Agency for Foreign Assistance Bill 2015

OBJECTIVE OF THE BILL

The objective of the Bill is to establish the Nigerian Agency for Foreign Assistance (“the Agency”) responsible for initiating, coordinating and facilitating Nigeria’s foreign development assistance and other life saving assistance to needy African countries and other countries of the world.

NUMBER OF CLAUSES/PARTS

The Bill has 29 clauses, including interpretation.

IMPLICATIONS

If the Bill is passed into law: -

  • Nigerian Agency for Foreign Assistance (“the Agency”) will be established;
  • A governing board for the Agency made up of representatives of relevant MDAs and Civil Society will be constituted;

GENERAL PROVISIONS OF THE BILL

1. Functions and Powers of the Nigerian Agency for Foreign Assistance (“the Agency”): -

The agency shall in line with Nigeria foreign policy objective in Africa be responsible for: -

  • Providing the underpinning for cooperation and integration by extending the provisions of education, technical training and health services with high priority given to tackling HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other communicable diseases;
  • Collaborating with donor agencies, world bodies and various NGOs to provide development assistance to people of Africa and beyond;
  • Building capacity of needy African States and beyond towards the development of infrastructure, diversification into agro industries, and manufacturing to improve the living standards of countries concerned;
  • Promoting the role of women and youth in social and economic activities;
  • Coordinating and facilitating Nigeria’s foreign development assistance to needy African countries and other countries of the world.

The agency shall have the powers to: –

  • Obtain information on activities relating to the development of foreign assistance programs and plans from agencies, countries and institutions and other support organizations;
  • Enter into Joint venture arrangement and draw up memorandum of understanding with relevant institutions and organizations for the promotion of foreign assistance programs;
  • To borrow from time to time by overdraft or otherwise of such sums as it may require with the approval of the Minister in charge of Co-operation and Integration in Africa;
  • To accept gifts of land, money or any other property on such terms and conditions as may be specified by the person making the gift.

2. Governing Board of the Agency (“the Board”): -

The governing board of the agency when established, shall comprise of a chairman, a representative each of relevant MDAs like the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Co-operation and Integration in Africa, National Planning Commission, and representatives of CSOs, associate of cooperate concerns, women organizations on recommendation of the Minister, and one representative of the Presidency. The appointment shall be done by the President on the recommendation of the Minister of cooperation and integration in Africa. 

The Chairman and other members shall hold office for 4 years and may be reappointed for a further period of 4 years and no more.

3. Staff of the Agency: -

The Agency shall have a Director-General to be appointed by the President on the recommendation of the Minister of Cooperation and Integration in Africa. The Director-General shall hold office for a term of 4 years in the first instance and may be re-appointed for a further term of 4 years.

Staff of the Agency shall be appointed by the board from time to time as shall be necessary for the purposes of the day-to-day affairs of the Agency (Clause 10). For the effective conduct of the functions of the Agency, the Board shall establish relevant units and committees for effective conduct of its operations.

4. Fund of the Agency: -  

The Agency shall maintain a fund into which shall be paid and credited the takeoff grant and annual subvention from the federal government; donations and grants from individuals, bilateral and multilateral bodies. The Agency may accept gifts of land, money or property (within or outside Nigeria) upon such terms and conditions not contrary to the objectives and functions of the Agency (Clause 14).

5. Use of Funds of the Agency: -

The Agency shall from time to time apply proceeds of the funds established to –

  • Cost of administration
  • Paying emoluments, allowance and benefits to members of the Board
  • Payment of salaries
  • Development and maintenance of properties vested in the Agency

The Agency shall not administer foreign assistance to any country or countries without approval of the National Assembly and if it is satisfied that the assistance earlier given by the Nigerian Government was not properly utilized (Clause 15).

6. Accounts and Audit: -

Clause 16 provides that the Agency shall keep proper accounts in a form which conforms to internationally accepted accounting standards and practice, and shall submit the accounts annually for auditing by a qualified auditor appointed in accordance with the guidelines supplied by the Auditor-General of the Federation.

7. Annual Report: -

The Agency shall not later than September 30 in each year submit to the National Assembly, a report of its activities for the preceding year and the audited accounts of the Agency (Clause 17)

8. Legal Proceedings: -

The provisions of the Public Officers Protection Act shall apply to the staff of the Agency in relation to any law suit instituted against them. No suit against a Board member or employee of the Agency for any act done in pursuance of any law or enactment shall lie in any court unless:

  • It is commenced 3 months after the act, neglect or default
  • It is in continuation of damage or injury, within 6 months after ceasing thereof, or
  • After the expiration of one month after a notice of the intention to sue is served (Clause 21).

9. Restriction on Execution Against Property of the Agency: -

The Commission shall establish and maintain a fund from which all expenses incurred by the Commission shall be defrayed. Sources of the fund shall include appropriations from the National Assembly, interests on investments and all other assets that may from time to time accrue to the Commission.

10. Borrowing and Investment: -

Clause 22 of the Bill provides that no execution or attachment of process in the nature thereof shall be issued against the Agency unless not less than 3 months notice of the intention to execute has been given to the Agency.

11. Duty of Secrecy: -

A member of the board or employee of the Agency shall treat as confidential any information which is obtained by him in the performance of his duties except when required to do so by a court. Any person who contravenes this provision commits and offence and on conviction liable to a fine not less than N20,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years (Clause 25)

12. President’s Directives: -

The President may from time to time give directives to the Director-General and it shall be the duty of the Agency or Director-General to comply with the directives.

13. Agency Regulations: -

The Agency may make regulations that are necessary or expedient for giving full effect to the provisions of this Bill (when it becomes law) with the approval of the President (Clause 27).

CONCLUDING ISSUES

The Bill seeks to establish an Agency to coordinate foreign assistance to other countries – within Africa and beyond. It is a welcome initiative to add Nigeria to the international development architecture; however, the current situation in the northeastern part of the country has turned into a major crisis with aid coming from the international community.

Furthermore, the establishment of another agency, increasing the number of MDAs operating in Nigeria will increase the pressure on the annual budget, as this agency will require a takeoff grant or capital from the federal government. In this time of recession, spending needs to be managed judiciously; establishing more agencies is not required for now. The Bill under Clause 25 puts the penalty for revealing confidential information at N20,000, which is a slap on the wrist considering Nigeria’s economy today. The amount needs to be reviewed upwards if this Bill would be passed by both chambers of the National Assembly.

Infographic:

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