Acting President, Mr. Yemi Osinbajo, on Thursday, signed three executive orders with the potential to significantly change some of the ways government business and operations are conducted in the country. This was contained in a statement by Mr. Laolu Akande, Senior Special Assistant (Media and Publicity) to the acting President.
The statement disclosed that ahead of the signing, an interactive session held at the old Banquet Hall of Presidential Villa. In attendance were all relevant government officials, including ministers, permanent secretaries and heads of departments and agencies. The session was held to directly engage government officials, who would be in charge of the implementation of the orders and the new instructions.
The executive orders also stipulate sanctions and punitive measures for violations. The three orders signed by Mr. Osinbajo provide specific instructions on a number of policy issues affecting the ease of doing business in the country, support for local content in public procurement by the Federal Government, and timely submission of annual budgetary estimates by all government agencies, including companies owned by the Federal Government.
On budgets, the acting President directed all Federal Government agencies must before the end of May of every year prepare and submit to the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Budget and National Planning their schedule of revenue and expenditure estimates for the next three financial years.
The executive order on budgets also prescribes that all agencies must, before the end of July every year, prepare and submit their annual budget estimates to the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Budget and National Planning. The estimates, said the order, must be derived from the estimates of revenue and expenditure as projected in their three-year schedule. These will be reviewed to ensure that they align with budgetary regulations.
“A joint committee of the Ministries of Finance, and the Budget and National Planning shall review such estimates and ensure their conformity with the national plan and the financial and budgetary regulations before processing them for approval and early transmission to the National Assembly.
Supervising Ministers and Heads of Agencies as well as the Chief Executive Officers of government-owned companies shall verify that the process of preparation, harmonization, and collation of budget estimates are as stipulated in relevant laws and guidelines as well as ensure strict compliance with this Executive Order,” the statement said.
It added that except with the express consent of the President, no payment will be made for any capital or recurrent liability of an agency apart from payment of due salaries and allowances unless the agency has an approved budget and the payment is in conformity with
Breaches of this order, the statement disclosed, will attract sanctions to be borne by heads of agencies and Chief Executive Officers of government-owned companies. It equally disclosed that revenue or other funds of an agency in excess of the amounts budgeted and duly expended shall accrue to the consolidated revenue fund of the Federal Government.
The executive order takes immediate effect.
The second order, which deals with the ease of doing business, the statement said, mandates all Federal Government ministries, agencies and departments to henceforth publish a complete list of all requirements or conditions for obtaining products and services within their scope of their responsibility.
These, it explained, will include permits, licenses, waivers, tax-related processes, filings and approvals.
"The list shall include all fees and timelines required for the processing of applications for the products and services; and be conspicuously pasted on the premises of the relevant MDA and published on its website within 21 days from the date of issuance of this order," the statement said.
It put the responsibility of verification of the list on the heads of the ministries and departments.
"If there is any conflict between a published and an unpublished list of requirements, the published list shall prevail," the statement directed.
It also directed that where the relevant agency or official fails to communicate approval or rejection of an application within the time stipulated in the published list, all applications for business registrations, certification, waivers, licenses or permits not concluded within the stipulated timeline will be deemed approved and granted.
In addition, the ministries and departments must state the mode of communication of official decisions to applicants in the published requirements.
In the case of rejections within the stipulated timeline, applicants must be given reasons for the rejection of applications and such shall be tracked and accurate records kept for submission to the head of ministries or departments on a weekly basis.
"There shall be at least two modes of communication of acceptance or rejection of applications to the applicants by the relevant MDAs before the expiration of the stipulated time, including letters, emails and publications on MDA websites.
The applicant’s acknowledgement copy of the application, including electronic submission acknowledgments, shall serve as proof of the date of submission of the application for purposes of determination of the commencement of the application timeline," the statement explained.
It further stated that applicants, whose applications are considered granted under this directive may apply for the issuance of any document or certificate in evidence of the grant within 14 days of lapse of the timeline for the application stipulated by the agency.
It warned that failure of the officer in charge of the process to act on any application within the stipulated time, without lawful excuse, will constitute misconduct that will invite disciplinary measures in line public service regulations.
To make things smoother, the Federal Government directed that a ministry, department or agency that requires input documentation, requirements or conditions from another in order to deliver products and services on applications within the remit of the originating ministry, agency or department will only request a photocopy or other prima facie proof from the applicant.
"It shall be the responsibility of the originating MDA to seek verification or certification directly from the issuing MDA," the statement added.
Service Level Agreements, it equally added, will be binding on all ministries, departments and agencies and MDAs and must be relied upon in the issuance of published stipulated timelines for processing of applications for the products and services.
"It shall be the responsibility of the head of the relevant MDA to ensure that the agreed terms of the Service Level Agreements are adhered to.
Failure of the appropriate officer to act within the timeline stipulated in the Service Level Agreement, without lawful excuse, shall amount to misconduct and be subject to appropriate disciplinary proceedings in accordance with the law and regulations applicable to the civil or public service," the Federal Government stated.
Tourist and business entry visas to Nigeria, the Federal Government directed will also, henceforth, be issued or rejected with reason by the Consular Office of Nigerian Embassies and High Commissions within 48 hours of receipt of valid application.
“The timeline shall be notified to the public by pasting a notice conspicuously at every Consular Office and by publication on every website of Nigerian Embassies and High
Commissions. A comprehensive and up to date list of requirements, conditions, and procedures for obtaining visa on arrival, including estimated timeframe, shall be published on all immigration-related websites in Nigeria and abroad, including Embassies and High Commissions, and all ports of entry into Nigeria,” the government directed.
It added that the processing of visas on arrival shall be carried must be made transparent, with visas on arrival granted at all Nigerian ports of entry once applicants have met all the published requirements.
The Federal Government also banned touting at any Nigerian port, stating that on duty staff must be properly identified by uniform and official cards. Off duty staff, the government said, must henceforth stay away from the ports except with the express approval of the agency head.
“The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) Security (AVSEC) and Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) Security shall enforce this order. All non-official staff shall be removed from the secured areas of airports. No official of FAAN, Immigration, security agency or Ministry of Foreign Affairs or any other agency is to meet any non-designated dignitary at any secure areas of the airport. The officially approved list of dignitaries that have been pre-approved to be received by protocol officers shall be made available to AVSEC and other relevant agencies ahead of their arrival at the airport,” the government ordered.
It warned that any official caught soliciting or receiving bribes from passengers or other port users will be removed from the post and made to face disciplinary and criminal proceedings.
The Federal Government also ordered that all ministries, departments and agencies at airports must, within 30 days, merge their respective departure and arrival interfaces into a single customer interface, while all agencies physically present at the ports must, within 60 days, merge their operations into one single
interface station in one location in the port. The directive gave specifics of the roles to be performed by the interface station.
“The new single interface station at each Port shall capture, track and record information on all goods arriving and departing from Nigeria and remit captured information to the head of the MDA and the head of the National Bureau of Statistics on a weekly basis. Each Port in Nigeria shall assign an existing export terminal to be dedicated to the exportation of agriculture produce within 30 days of the issuance of this order,” the Federal Government directed.
It also ordered the resumption of 24-hour operations at the Apapa Port within 30 days.
On the registration of businesses, the Federal Government directed the Registrar-General of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) to, within 14 days, ensure that all registration processes at the CAC are fully automated through the CAC website from the start of an application process to completion, including ensuring the availability of an online payment platform.
On support for local contents in public procurement, the Federal Government directed its ministries, departments, and agencies to grant preference to manufacturers of locally-made goods and local service providers in their procurement of goods and services.
“Any document issued by any MDA of the FGN for the solicitation of offers, bids, proposals or quotations for the supply or provision of goods and services (Solicitation Document), in accordance with (1) above, shall expressly indicate the preference to be granted to domestic manufacturers, contractors and service providers and the information required to establish the eligibility of a bid for such preference,” it ordered.
It prescribed that a minimum of 40 per cent of the procurement expenditure of ministries, departments, and agencies be on locally manufactured goods or local service providers.
The items in this category, said the Federal Government, include uniforms and footwear, food and beverages, furniture and fittings, stationery, automobiles, pharmaceuticals, and construction Materials. They also include Information and Communication Technology.