Buhari May Delay Assent To NTC Bill
Following disagreement among stakeholders, President Muhammadu Buhari may not be disposed to assent to the National Transport Commission (NTC) Bill passed by the Senate last year, THISDAY findings have revealed.
Sources told THISDAY that the NTC bill may have to wait as some areas of disagreement among stakeholders connected with the bill have not been tied up.
The NTC Bill and Federal Roads Authority (Establishment) Bill 2018 were among some of the bills which the Senate had last year passed to the President for assent.
However, the bills, including the NTC Bill were returned to the National Assembly by the President over issues of technicalities and use of language that would bother on overlap of functions with other agencies if signed into law.
THISDAY gathered that officials of the Transport Ministry and counterparts in the aviation industry, among other undisclosed interest groups have not been able to resolve critical areas of conflict and provisions that are to be delineated and streamlined.
It was gathered that based on this, the President was advised not to assent the Bill yet.
The Secretary to the Federal Government, Mr Boss Mustapha, had late last year given hope on the NTC Bill when he said tthe Executive arm of government was committed to playing its role in the passage of the bill into law.
However, the NTC Bill appears to have taken the shape of the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) which process started in 2008 and passed last year, but which assent was turned down by the President.
Similarly, the process of passing the NTC Bill started about 10 years ago before it was passed by the Senate last year.
Reacting to enquiries on the matter, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), Mr Hassan Bello, said the federal government was in a better position to determine which bill to pass or not.
Bello said the federal government would have consulted widely before taking a position on what to do in respect of the NTC Bill.
Noting that the present government is one which believes in process and procedure, Bello said government considers a lot of issues before a bill is assented.
Arguing that the present government is always pointing to an economic direction for the good of the country, Bello added that whatever it decides remains for the best interest of the country.
Bello said, “the federal government is in a better position to determine which bill to pass or not. The NTC Bill is not an exception. Government has a broader perspective.
“Government has a wider network to assess a bill. It is important that this government particularly is meticulous. It is a government of process and procedure. It is a government of law.
“So, if the government thinks that the NTC bill may not be passed, then that is a superior argument. Government always considers a lot of issues before signing a bill and I am sure there was a wider consultation on this issue.
“Don’t forget that this bill is an industry bill. It is not just a bill for the Nigerian Shippers Council.
“It is a bill that concerns wider ministries, Ministry of Finance, Transport, Aviation and so many other sectors because it is a multi-sectoral bill. So, it is not just about NSC, it is about the industry, about the country.
“This is a government that is pointing to an economic direction for the country. Government is going to talk about the cost of doing business, government talks about the size of government itself and so many other factors that come into consideration. “So, if a superior argument has emerged to say that NTC bill should be withheld pending passage of time or may be substituted by a review of NSC Act, then that is coming from a sound perspective.”
On his part, a maritime lawyer, Mr Kasarachi Opara, said there was need for stakeholders to move fast in resolving areas of disagreement in the NTC Bill.
Opara, said stakeholders in both maritime and aviation sectors should be able to identify critical areas of conflict in the NTC bill and resolve them so that the President will have a second look on assenting to the bill.