Federal Executive Council (FEC) Wednesday approved eight new draft bills aimed at raising the quality of lives of Nigerians for transmission to the National Assembly.
The bills will also seek to deepen the Federal Government’s efforts at transforming the economy.
The Presidential spokesman, Dr Reuben Abati, told State House correspondents that the council approved the report of the cabinet committee on the Transport Sector Reform Draft Bills; the Draft Bill for the Establishment of the National Agency for the Great Green Wall; and the Draft National Policy on Staple Crops Processing Zones.
He said that the initiatives were major breakthroughs and part of the efforts by the administration to strengthen various sectors of the economy and the society and to provide opportunities for Nigerians.
“The following draft bills were approved: the National Transport Commission Bill 2014; the Nigerian Railway Authority Bill 2014; the Nigerian Ports and Habour Authority Bill 2014; the National Inland Waterways Authority Bill 2014; the National Roads Fund Bill 2014; the Federal Roads Authority Bill 2014; the Nigeria Postal Commission Bill 2014; and finally you have the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Bill 2014.“
Abati said that the council in addition, approved the draft bill for the establishment of the National Agency for the Great Green Wall, adding that all the bills would be forwarded to the National Assembly by the Attorney-General of the Federation.
He said that the Green Wall project was a major commitment of the administration to check desertification and land degradation in the frontline states, reduce social conflicts, enhance community capacity, create employment, alleviate poverty and enhance the livelihood of the people.
The Minister of Transport, Alhaji Idris Umar, said that the reform of the Federal Government was to make the private-sector driven economy to align with the objectives of the Federal Government’s economic policy and vision 20:2020.
He said that government as the dominant player had managed most sectors of the economy, including transportation, but noted that challenges of management, inadequate maintenance and funding necessitated the involvement of the private sector.
Umar said “The existing laws governing the transport sector are mainly public sector driven and largely constrained by limited autonomy, conflicting and sometimes overlapping functions and so on and so forth.
“In addition, the laws did not provide for adequate private sector participation.
“Consequently, new legal and regulatory frameworks are required to support the reform programme.”
The minister said that the Transport Commission Bill would seek to establish the national transport commission designed to be a multi-sector model covering the road, rail and marine transport systems.
He said that the commission would introduce synergy and inter-modalism in the sector that had in the past operated in an uncoordinated manner.
He said that the Ports and Harbour Authority Bill would broaden the scope of operations of the authority to make it more functional, manage ports and habour, promote port competitiveness, and boost revenue collection in offshore activities.
Umar said that the Inland Waterways Bill was to cover wider areas not covered by the existing law and to generate revenue devoid of ambiguity especially from the oil companies.
He said that the Railway Bill was to repeal the 1955 Act to rebrand the NRC to Nigeria Railway Authority to enable private sector participation in running and ownership of rail tracks, empower states and local governments own and operate rail facilities.
The Minster of Works, Chief Mike Onolememen, also said that the two new bills in the road sector were to guarantee sustainable funding for road maintenance besides the annual budget.
He said that the Federal Road Authority Bill was aimed at creating an authority that would be in charge of the road network in the country rather than being held by the ministry of works.
He said that that would be in fulfillment of the 1994 resolution by African countries to reform the continent’s road sector in line with international regulations.
The Minister of Trade and Investment, Dr Olusegun Aganga, said the bills were priority economic bills and game changers as they would be expected to open the sectors to local and international investors.
He said that the consumer bill would provide opportunities for the private sector to invest in the sector and create competition in the economy.
The Minister of Environment, Mrs Lawrencia Malam, said the approval for a green wall agency came about through the decision of 11 countries in Africa to combat desert encroachment.
She said that 305 communities in 46 local government areas of 11 states were affected by desert encroachment covering 1,500 km.
She said that the agency would create more jobs and provide social infrastructure for the benefiting communities in the frontline states.