The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) has warned asked the National Assembly tover ongoing efforts aimed at criminalizing hate speech and imposing death penalty as a sentence for its breach.
According to the NGF, the Bill on hate speech should first be subjected to rigorous process of public debate and a public hearing so as to feel Nigerian citizens’ genuine opinion and ensure that their views are accommodated.
The governors, while rising from a meeting in Abuja on Wednesday threw their weight behind move by the Federal Government to raise revenue by increasing the Value Added Tax (VAT) from 5 percent to 7.5percent.
The group assured of the conclusion of all negotiations in relation to the new minimum wage before the end of the year.
The forum’s Vice Chairman, Governor Aminu Tambwal of Sokoto State, who earlier read the communique of the meeting, spoke for the others.
He said: “On the issue of hate speech, I am not sure that I have heard any governor that has come out to say that. he is in support of that.
“I believe that the National Assembly should hold public hearing. on that Bill and due process of legislation should be followed. so that the views of Nigerians, not only that of the governors, are well capture.
“They (the legislators) should respect the views of Nigerian in what ever direction of the debate leading to the eventual passage or otherwise of the Bill.”
On the issue of VAT increase, Tambuwal said: “we are definitely in support of what will improve the revenue generation drive of the Federal Government and states and we are appealing to those, who probably do not have proper understanding of the context of the Bill to have a rethink and reflect on the quantum of work that is ahead of us a country and states.
“We need a lot of resources to turn around infrastructure, to invest in education, healthcare and other sectors of or national life.
“So, there is urgent need for more revenue in Nigeria. I appeal that we should show understanding with the Federal Government.”
On whether the governors were working to avert a possible strike in December owing to threats from labour leaders of minimum wage, Tambuwal said all the state governors were working to meet the December deadline.
“On the December deadline for minimum wage payment, the various state governments have been engaging with labour leaders and state branches of the Nigerian Labour Congress.
“I am sure, it is a work in progress, and possibly before the end of December all the states must have finished working out the details.
lWe are very much committed to the welfare and well-being of our workforce and therefore, we shall continue to do our best to ensure that what needs to be done is done.”
On the issue of child rights Act and the growing number of out of school children, Tambuwal said the various states were addressing the challenge, while taking into account, the peculiarity of each state, their religion and belief system.