Some lawyers and experts in the agricultural sector have called for the quick passage of some agro-allied bills pending before the National Assembly.
They made the call in Abuja last Friday during a public sensitisation workshop organised by the law firm of a professor of Law and President of the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, Yemi Akinseye-George (SAN).
The law firm was engaged by a group – Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa – to help analyse the bills to ensure that they were of good standard and conformed to global best practices.
The pending bills are: the National Fertilizer Quality Control Bill; the National Agricultural Seed Control Bill; and the National Agricultural Inputs Monitoring Committee Bill.
Akinseye-George said the NFQC and the NASC bills had moved steadily at the National Assembly, with the NFQC passed in 2016 by the House of Representatives, while the Senate passed it on September 27, 2017.
He said the NAIMC bill, which was the latest of the three, currently did not have a sponsor among the legislators in any of the chambers of the National Assembly.
He explained that the NAIMC bill, drafted by his firm, with support from AGRA, was intended to replace the National Agricultural Growth Enhancement Support Programme Bill, produced under the past administration.
While stressing the importance of the bills for the success of the government’s agriculture sector development initiatives, he urged all Nigerians to show interest in the bills and support their passage.
He added, “The liberalisation of the inputs sub-sectors calls for more stringent legal and regulatory controls in order to ensure quality and sanity in the production and application of inputs.
“The recent unprecedented boost in fertilizer production in the country, through the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative, calls for even more stringent regulation of the fertilizer regime.”
A lawyer, Chiamaka Anyaegbu, whose presentation was on the NFQC Bill, noted that the bill sought to prohibit unwholesome practices by players in the fertilizer sub-sector.
She said the bill aims to bar operators with expired permit or certificate; bar the use of destructive ingredients or harmful properties, conversion or diversion of fertilizer and bar the sale of unbranded fertilizer.
The bill also stipulates stiff penalties, with a five-year minimum term of imprisonment without option of fine, and imposition of fine of between N5m to N10m and daily fine of N500,000 on erring manufacturer, blender or importer of fertilizer.
Another speaker, Ladun Baderinwa, called for the support of all stakeholders and Nigerians to ensure their passage by the National Assembly in view of their revolutionary provisions aimed at standardising operations in the relevant sectors of the nation’s agriculture industry.