OrderPaperToday-
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila has expressed concern over
multiple quests for the establishment of trust funds; thereby putting undue financial pressure on the government’s purse.

Gbajabiamila raised the alarm while declaring open a two-day public hearing on six bills organised by the House Committee on Interior.

He made this known through his representative; the Deputy Leader of the House, Peter Akpatason, who noted that the intention was to properly serve the people but not without a huge burden on the government.

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The Bills included:

Bill for an Act to establish the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps Trust Fund

Bill for an Act to amend the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps Act, 2003 to institutionalise collaboration between the relevant security agencies to strengthen its complementary role in the maintenance of public law and order.

Bill for an Act to amend the Civil Defence Corps Act No 6 of 2007 to institutionalise the collaboration between the corps and relevant security agencies to strengthen its complementary role in the maintenance of public law and order.

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Bill for an Act to repeal the Fire Service Act, Cap F29, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004, and provide for the establishment of the Fire service in the federation and provide among other things for the organization discipline, powers, duties of the Federal Fire and Rescue Services.

Bill for an Act to repeal the Fire Service Act Cap F29, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004, and enact the Fire and emergency service bill to provide for additional powers for effective service delivery and

Bill to repeal the Immigration and Prison Services Board Act, 2004 and enact the Civil Defence Corps, Correctional, Federal Fire, Immigration Services Board Act to provide policy direction to the corps and appoint, promote and exercise disciplinary control over the officers.

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According to Gbajabiamila, “The House Committee on Interior has convened this public hearing to allow stakeholders to review and contribute to six bills under consideration in the House of Representatives. 

These bills focus on two of our critical national institutions, the Nigeria Security & Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and the Federal Fire Service (FFS). The intention behind these bills is to improve the structure and operations of these institutions so they can perform optimally and better serve the interests of the Nigerian people.

One of the bills under consideration today seeks to establish a Nigeria Security & Civil Defence Corps Trust Fund to address the challenges of funding the Corps. This bill is one of many such Trust Fund Bills that have been sponsored in the 9th Assembly. 

Though the intent is noble, these trust fund bills raise critical questions about the management of public finances in our country, which we will do well to pay attention to.  

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Speaking on the effect of the trust funds on the nation’s finances, Akpatason added:

“The establishment of various trust funds to accommodate the financial needs of various government institutions puts pressure on the public finances. This is not ideal as it, amongst other things, infringes on the responsibility and authority of parliament to make appropriations decisions. 

We must keep this in mind as we make decisions about this bill and other such bills making their way through parliament. Two of the other bills relating to the Nigeria Security & Civil Defence Corps intend to address the problem of overlapping mandates between the Corps and other national security institutions and the conflicts that arise therefrom. 

Research conducted by the National Institute of Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS) has documented the many manifestations of such conflicts and the ways overlapping mandates undermine our national security interests.” 

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Last year, when the House hosted the first-ever National Security Summit, various stakeholders raised this issue multiple times. It is, therefore, appropriate that parliament is now taking action to address the statutory foundations of these conflicts at this critical time.

These hearings are an opportunity for harvesting the views, experiences, concerns and observations of the Nigerian people so that those contributions can improve legislative outcomes.

Public Hearings work best when the contributions made by the participants are considered and informed by reflections on the public good.  I urge all of you who have gathered here today to recognise that this is an opportunity to contribute to making our country better.  It is an important role, and I am confident that you will do it well.”

In their submission, the Commandant General of Nigeria Security & Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Ahmed Audi represented by the ACG Agro Rangers, Augustine Obiekwe supported the bills for Civil Defence Trust Funds, saying it was timely. 

Equally, the Nigeria Correctional Service (NCS) and the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) also spoke in support of the separate bills as well as the Heads of the various Services who pleaded for more time to understudy bills.

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