NPC commissioners too Communications committee frowns at communications tax bill
Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday sought the Senate’s confirmation for THISDAY’s Law Editor, May Agbamuche-Mbu, and five others as Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) commissioners.
He also asked the Senate to confirm five nominees as National Population Commission (NPC) commissioners.
Buhari in a letter addressed to Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and read on the floor of the Senate, said the appointments were in accordance with Section 54(1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
Other nominees for INEC were Professor Okechukwu Obinna Ibeanu (Anambra, South-east); Air Vice Marshall Ahmed Tijani Mu’Azu (rtd) (Gombe, North-east); Mohammed Kudu Haruna ((Niger, North-central); Dr. Adekunle Ladipo Ogunmola (Oyo, South-west); Abubakar Ahmed Nahuche (Zamfara, North-west).
On the NPC, he also said the appointments were made in accordance with Section 54(1) of the Constitution.
He said:”In accordance with the provisions of Section (54(1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), I write to forward herewith the names of five national commissioners appointed for NPC from Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Be he, Kebbi and Oyo States for the consideration of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The names of the appointed commissioners are as follows. Chief Benedict Ukpong (Akwa Ibom); Gloria Fayeta Izonfuo (Bayelsa); Kpuchi Ori Iyanya (Benue) Haliru Bala (Kebbi) and Eyitayo Oyetunji (Oyo).
“While thanking you immensely in anticipation of the early consideration and confirmation of the above appointments by distinguished Senate, please accept the assurances of my highest esteem.”
Also yesterday, the Senate Committee on Communications criticised Communications Service Tax Bill proposed by the executive, saying it has the capacity to make life more difficult for majority of Nigerians.
The bill seeks to compel telephone consumers to pay a certain sum of money as tax on every call they make.
Reacting to the proposal yesterday, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Communications, Senator Gilbert Nnaji, expressed displeasure with the bill during the 2016 budget defence by the Nigerian Communications Commission, (NCC) and the Universal Service Provision Fund, (USPF). He said the bill would further impoverish the low income earners.
“There has been strident outcry by consumer rights’ groups and industry stakeholders against the Communications Service Tax Bill (CST) 2015 currently before the National Assembly. It is argued that the bill will limit access to communications as it will affect the lower income consumers, forcing them to abandon or reduce subscription to certain services.
“This committee is yet to be availed with the contents of this bill but it is important to state unequivocally here that, as the elected representatives of the Nigerian people, while we recognise the current administration’s efforts to widen its revenue base, conscious efforts must be made to ensure that the socio-economic well-being of the citizenry remains sacrosanct.
“We assure Nigerians that this committee will engage in wide consultations with all concerned stakeholders in considering this bill if it is referred to the committee,” he said.
Nnaji also told the commission the position of the committee on issues affecting the telecommunications’ sector in the country.
“These are issues bordering on regulatory and operational environment in the sector such as the statutory independence of the industry regulator and the obligations demanded from industry operators to observe and respect regulatory directives.
“While the committee will in no way support any draconian regulation by the commission, it will not also fold its arms to witness any disrespect and disregard for the directives of constituted authorities of the commission by any operator under its regulatory oversight,” he said.