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Stakeholders Task NASS On Digital Rights, Freedom Bill

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Stakeholders in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector have urged the National Assembly to transmit the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill to President Muhammadu Buhari for his assent.
Mr Gbenga Sesan, Executive Director, Paradigm Initiative Nigeria and Mr Mark Stephens, the Independent Board Chair, Board of Directors, Global Network Initiative, made the plea in Lagos last Wednesday.
“The bill presents Nigeria with the opportunity to build an effective digital economy with a robust policy framework that protects businesses and secures human rights, complementing ongoing efforts by citizens, civil societies, the private sector, government and other actors.
“Around the world, the global digital economy is built upon the foundation of strong legal and policy frameworks, often grounded in international human rights law, which protects the actors within it.
“Making it a law will boost Nigeria’s burgeoning Internet economy, improve governance and further Nigeria’s position as a regional and global leader in Information, Communications and Technology issues.
“Individuals and organisations only thrive and invest in the digital sector when there is a legal certainty, regulatory trust, and rule of law that ensures that the rights of users are respected and that the interests of citizens, businesses and the government in the digital age are protected,” the duo said in a statement.
The Tide reports that the bill which was developed through deliberate multi-stakeholders’ consultations was passed by the Senate in March 2018.
Sesan said that the bill provided protection for the citizens from errant behaviours such as hate speech and misinformation, as defined by a competent court of law.
“Overall, the bill addresses key challenges, provides regulatory clarity and safeguards users’ rights.
“It maintains a preference for `openness’, which the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and many others have noted is vital for boosting trade, enabling innovation and entrepreneurship, fostering new cost-saving business models.
“The bill presents Nigeria with the opportunity to build an effective digital economy with a robust policy framework that protects businesses and secures human rights.
“It complements ongoing efforts by citizens, civil societies, the private sector, government and other actors.
“The Digital Rights and Freedom Bill will further cement Nigeria’s reputation as a pioneer in progressive, positive legislation in a world where repression, clampdowns, violations and dangerous laws are on the rise”, he said.

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Discos Offer Customers Two-Month Free Electricity

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Power distribution companies have announced that they were in support of the proposal by the National Assembly and the Federal Executive arm of government that Nigerians should get two months of free electricity.
Speaking through their umbrella body, the Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED), the Discos stated that modalities for the free power would be worked on and made public in due course.
The Executive Director, ANED, Sunday Oduntan, disclosed this in a statement issued in Abuja last Wednesday night.
He said: , “The electricity distribution companies recognise the challenging effects of the coronavirus on the economic and daily lives of our customers.
“In fulfillment of our commitments to the nation, we hereby align ourselves with the efforts of the National Assembly and the Federal Executive to mitigate the hardship that is currently being borne by our customers and other citizens all over the country”.
Oduntan added : , “We are committed to working with them to ensure more efficient power supply within this difficult period, as the nation battles with the ravages of COVID-19.
“We are also completely aligned with the plans to ensure palliative measures, including free electricity supply to all Nigerians for two months to make life easier, during the lockdown period. Details of implementation to come soon”.
He reiterated the commitment of the Discos to improving service delivery to the nation during the period of the coronavirus pandemic and thereafter.
Meanwhile, the management of the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company last Wednesday said it had set aside N 100 m to support the fight against COVID-19 pandemic within its operational area.
The electricity company said this while donating food items worth N10 m to the Oyo State Government as part of measures to combat COVID-19 in the state.
IBEDC also donated N5m to the University College Hospital Ibadan in support of the institution’s efforts at combating the deadly virus.
The Chief Operating Officer, IBEDC, John Ayodele, during the presentation of the relief items at the Ministry of Agriculture, Oyo State Secretariat, said the food items were part of the N 100m earmarked to support the states in its areas of jurisdiction.
Ayodele, who was represented on the occasion by the Regional Head of IBEDC, Peter Oyelami, lauded the government for measures taken in the fight against the scourge .

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NASS Insists On Appropriation Of COVID-19 Donations 

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The leadership of the National Assembly has insisted that all donations from corporate Nigeria to mitigate the effects of the CORVID-19 pandemic should be in a single account.
The National Assembly also reminded the Presidential Task Force on COVID -19 that according to the Constitution, all funds from the public purse is to be expended in a manner prescribed by the National Assembly.
The leadership of the National Assembly took this position yesterday when it met with the Chairman of the CORVID-19 Presidential Task Force, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha and members of his team.
Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, commended the Presidential Task Force and said further: “We hear of donations made by various corporate organisations. But there is no coordination”.
He said he has information that corporate bodies have gathered up to N22 billion, adding “National Assembly, we have also made donations. I believe we must have a central body to receive and manage the funds.
“Whatever money has been raised by NNPC, the IOCs, everybody, should be in one account. Where the PTF should have a request, it should pass through us.”
The Senate President said a situation “where everybody is just collecting, will put us in a bad shape”.
He noted that in a situation whereby there is paucity of funds and the Federal Government is looking for N500 billion for intervention, the COVID-19 fund should be pooled together and spent in a transparent manner.
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, apparently responding to a statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Social Investments, Hajiya Maryam, said people should not be emotional or personal when NASS demands questions on appropriations.
Uwais had said the inability of certain members of the National Assembly to include their personally selected candidates to be beneficiaries for the National Social Investment Programmes (NSIPs) was largely why the programme came under attack by Lawan and Gbajabiamila.
But Gbajabiamila said: , “It is to the National Assembly that the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria assigns the authority to oversee appropriations from the public purse.
“The appropriation role does not terminate upon passage of the budget. It continues through oversight of disbursements from the federation accounts and implementation of funding priorities.”

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FG Slashes Budget To N5.08trn, Sends To NASS For Review 

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The Federal Government has revised downward the revenue projection for the 2020 budget by N 3.3 trillionfrom the initial approved amount of N8.41 trillion to N 5. 08 trillion .
The revised revenue projection is contained in a proposal sent to the National Assembly by the executive.
The reduction became imperative in view of of the negative impact of the coronavirus pandemic, which had led to disruptions to global supply chains, sharp drop in global crude oil prices, turmoil in global stock and financial markets.
These outcomes have had severe consequences on households ’ livelihoods and business activities, resulting from drop in global demand, declined consumer confidence and slowdown in production
Based on the revenue parameters underlying the revised proposal , the Federal Government revised downwards the oil price benchmark from $ 57 per barrel to $ 30 per barrel.
Similarly, the oil production volume was reduced from 2.18 million barrels per day to 1.7 million barrels per day.
The exchange rate was, however, raised from N305 to a dollar to N360 to a dollar based on the devaluation of the naira by the Central Bank of Nigeria.
An analysis of the revenue items showed that oil revenue suffered the highest reduction of N2.38 trillon from the initial approved amount of N2.63 trillion to N254.25 bn.
Based on the proposal, dividend from the NLNG was reduced from N124.26 bn to N80.37 bn while non – oil revenue would witness a decline of N269 bn from N1.8 trillion to N1.53 trillion.
In the same vein , revenue projection from signature bonus was revised downward from N 939.3 bn to N568.68 bn , while revenue from stamp duty was reduced from N463.94 bn to N 200 bn.
However, independent revenue from agencies of government was increased by N66.88 bn from N 849.96 bn to N916.84 bn.
On the expenditure side , the executive is proposing a reduction of about N321 bn in spending from the initial estimate of N10.59 trillion to N10.27 trillion.

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