HB 160: Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (Establishment) Bill, 2016

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Sponsor:

Hon. Onyeamaechi Joan Mrakpor

State: DELTA
Party: Peoples Democratic Party

Bill Status: Passed!

  • First Reading: 20/01/2016
  • Second Reading: 21/01/2016
  • Committee Referred To: Committee of the Whole
  • Consolidated with:
  • Date Reported out of Committee:
  • Third Reading:07/06/2016

Bill Analysis:

SHORT TITLE

Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (Establishment) Bill 2015

OBJECTIVE OF THE BILL

The objectives of the Bill are:

  1. to establish the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM)
  2. to provide for the engagement of Nigerians in diaspora in the policies, projects and participation in the development of Nigeria;
  3. to utilize the human capital and material resources of Nigerians in diaspora towards the overall socioeconomic, cultural and political development of Nigeria.

NUMBER OF CLAUSES/PARTS

The Bill has 27 clauses, including citation.

IMPLICATIONS

If the Bill is passed into law: -

  • Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) is established to coordinate and provide an organized system of collaborations of Nigerians in the Diaspora;
  • NIDCOM shall be under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs;
  • The headquarters of NIDCOM shall be in the FCT, with zonal office around Nigeria;  
  • The chairman and members of the Commission shall be appointed by the President subject to the confirmation of the Senate.
  • Nigerians in Diaspora Organizations (NIDO) in all continents shall have representatives within the governing board of the Commission

GENERAL PROVISIONS OF THE BILL

1. Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM): -

This shall be a designated commission in Nigeria charged with the responsibility of coordinating and providing an organized system of collaborations of Nigerians in diaspora for their contributions by identifying, preserving and mobilizing the human, capital and material resources and expertise to the general development of Nigeria (Clause 1(2)(d)).

2. Board of the Commission (“the Board”): -

The Board shall be established to oversee the general administration of the Commission and shall consist of a Chairman and members of the Commission, who shall be appointed by the President subject to the confirmation of the Senate (Clause 2(2)).

The Chairman must have spent at least 15 years in the public service. The other members shall be drawn from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Civil Service (not below the rank of a Director) and Nigerian in Diaspora Organizations in America, Asia, Australia, Europe & Africa. A legal practitioner of not less than 10 years post-call shall be part of the Board.

3. Location and Tenure of Office: -

The Commission shall have its head office in the Federal Capital Territory and other offices in any part of Nigeria as may be determined by the Board of the Commission (Clause 4). The Chairman and members of the Commission shall hold office for a term of 4 years, renewable for another term and no more (Clause 5).

4. Cessation of Office: -  

A member of the governing board shall cease to hold office if he becomes of unsound mind, or bankrupt or commits a crime and convicted. If a member of the board is disqualified from practicing in his profession by any competent authority, he shall cease to be a member of the board (Clause 6).

5. Vacancy in Membership: -

Where a vacancy occurs in the membership of the Commission, it shall be filled by appointment of a successor to hold office for the remaining term and shall represent the same geo-political zone or continent as his predecessor (Clause 7).

6. Powers of the Commission: -

Clause 8 provides that the Commission (NIDCOM) shall have powers to manage funds with respect to the running of the Commission; mobilize and execute programs; formulate policies; coordinate and harmonize the NIDOs; advise the government at all levels; carry out training programs; reach out to Nigerian communities abroad; strengthen the existing administrative set-up of the NIDO, etc.

The Commission may make general regulations for its staff, subject to the provisions of this Bill and without prejudice, the regulations may provide for the appointment, promotion and discipline of employees of the Commission and appeals by such employees against disciplinary measures (Clause 11). Any regulation made under this section shall not have effect until approved by the Commission.

7. Secretariat of the Commission: -

A secretariat to be headed by the Secretary, appointed by the President shall be established. The secretariat shall be responsible for the administration of the Secretariat and keeping the books of the Commission. The Secretary shall be appointed for a term of 4 years and may be reappointed for another 4 years subject to satisfactory performance. The Secretary shall be subject to the supervision of the Chairman of the Commission (Clause 10).

8. Staff Training: -

Under Clause 13, the Commission shall initiate, develop or improve specific training program for its officers and other personnel, charged with the responsibility for the implementation of the Commission programs created by the Bill.

9. Fund of the Commission: -

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 16 of the Bill provides that the Commission may in accordance with the general guidelines or authority given by the government of the federation borrow by way of loan or overdraft from any source any money required by the Commission. The Commission may at any time invest any surplus in its Fund.

11. Accounts and Audit: -

The Commission shall prepare at each financial year, a statement of accounts of the Division as the Minister may direct. The accounts shall be audited by auditors appointed from the list of auditors and in accordance with the guidelines laid down by the Auditor-General of the Federation.

12. Annual report: -

Under Clause 18(1), the departments shall prepare and submit to the Minister not later than the last day of May in each financial year, a report on their activities during the last preceding year.

The Minister shall cause copies to be laid before the President and each of the Houses of the National Assembly.

13. Limitations of suit against the Commission: -

In relation to any suit instituted against any member, the provisions of the Public Officers Protection Act shall apply (Cap. P41 LFN, 2004), which states that no suit against any member for any act done in pursuant or execution of this Bill (when passed into law) shall lie or be instituted in any court unless it is commenced within 3 months after the act or in the case of continuation of damage or injury within 6 months after ceasing thereof (Clause 20).

14. Restriction on Execution against Property of the Commission: -

in any action or suit against the Commission, no execution or attachment of process in the nature thereof shall be issued against the Commission unless not less than 3 months’ notice of the intention to execute or attach has been given (Clause 22)

15. Directives by the Minister: -

The Minister may give directives in writing to be served on a Director of a Department requiring the Director to furnish the Minister with all information within his power relating to such matters connected with any activity of the department as may be specified in the directives and the director shall comply with the requirements of the directives.

16. Indemnity of the Commission’s Officials: -

Any official or employee of the Commission shall be indemnified out of assets of the Commission against any liability incurred by him in defending any proceeding whether civil or criminal, if the proceeding is brought against him in his capacity as officer or employee of the Commission.

CONCLUDING ISSUES

The Bill seeks to establish a Commission in Nigeria charged with the responsibility of coordinating and providing an organized system of collaborations of Nigerians in diaspora for their contributions by identifying, preserving and mobilizing the human, capital and material resources and expertise to the general development of Nigeria. The Commission shall be a body under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and shall have a governing board. As part of the Commission’s functions, it shall set-up a worldwide council and reach out to Nigerian communities abroad (Clause 8) from time to time.

The listed function under Clause 8(a) – (i) are the functions of an Embassy. In countries where Nigeria has an embassy, these functions can easily be carried out and a specific department within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs can be the general coordinator of activities. This method would be cost saving and efficient, as it would eliminate duplicating roles – the Commission performing role of an Embassy. Setting up a Commission and appropriating funds to it as prescribed by the Bill (Clause 14) would lead to increasing government spending, which Nigeria does not need now. However, Nigerian embassies abroad need to be properly mobilized to perform their functions and there would be no need to establish the Commission. In addition, a department within the MFA can be specifically assigned the task of coordinating inter-continental activities with the help of embassies located around the globe

Infographic:

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