15 Jun A Review Of Some Bills Signed Into Law By Buhari… III
In this final part of the three-part series, we look at three more bills aimed at social reforms that were passed by former President Muhammadu Buhari.
A bill to grant financial autonomy to state house of assembly and state judiciary
The bill signed into law by former President Buhari in 2018, assert financial autonomy for state judiciary and state houses of assembly. The bill recommended that the two arms at the sub-national levels should directly access funds to their credit, and no longer through the state governors.
Assented to as the Constitution Fourth Alteration Bill, it aims to grant financial autonomy and independence to the Houses of Assembly and judiciary arm of the respective states
Explaining the bill to state house correspondents, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senator Ita Enang said, “Upon this signature the amounts standing to the credit of the judiciary are to be now be paid directly to the judiciary of those states, no more through the governors and no more from the governors and then the amounts standing to the credit of the Houses of Assembly of the respective states are now to be paid directly to the Houses of Assembly of that state for the benefit of the legislators and the management of the States Houses of Assembly. This grants full autonomy now to the judiciary at the state level and the Houses of Assembly at the state level.”
However, the governors tarried on the implementation, forcing the President to sign an executive order in 2020. The order also mandates the accountant-general of the federation to deduct from source amount due to state legislatures and judiciaries from the monthly allocation to each state for states that refuse to grant such autonomy. It is unlikely that the law has been fully implemented in any state, as governors continue to demonstrate that opposition to independent legislature and judiciary in their various states.
THE DISCRIMINATION AGAINST PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES (PROHIBITION) ACT, 2018
Buhari kicked off 2019 with the signing of a bill criminalizing any act of discrimination against persons with disabilities. The bill which was signed into law on January 23, 2019, recommends punishment for corporate entities and individuals found guilty of discriminating against persons with impairments.
The Act prohibits all forms of discrimination on the ground of disability and imposes fine of N1, 000, 000 for corporate bodies and N100, 000 for individuals or a term of six months imprisonment for violation concurrently. The Act also states that before any public structure is erected, its plan should be scrutinised by the relevant authority to ensure that the plan conforms with the building code.
However, like most laws that could benefit the poor masses, this law has not made much impact as implementation has been poor.
According to the World Health Organisation, about 25 million Nigerians, constituting 19% of the country’s population, live with at least one form of disability.
FINANCE ACT 2020
The Finance Act increased the value-added tax (VAT) from five per cent to 7.5 per cent. Although this triggered angry reactions from many Nigerians, but the people later came to terms with it, especially as the former President promised that his government would increase support for MSMEs in line with our Ease of Doing Business Reforms, incentivize investments in infrastructure and capital markets and raise government revenues.
The Act led to the amendment of several Acts, which include Petroleum Profit Tax Act (PPT), Custom and Excise Tax Act, Company Income Tax Act (CITA), Personal Income Tax Act, Value Added Tax Act, Stamp Duties Tax Act, and Capital Gains Act.