No bill debate in N/Assembly 2 months after inauguration

By: Ismail Mudashir

Two months after the inauguration of the National Assembly, senators and members of the House of Representatives are yet to debate on any bill, Daily Trust has observed.

Our correspondents report that lawmakers of the 8th Assembly inaugurated on 9 June have gone on recess three times and are set to proceed on a long vacation this Thursday without debating any bill, a key to good governance.

It was observed that a total of 30 bills have been presented by the lawmakers at both upper and lower chamber but none has been debated. The lower chamber has the highest of 19 while the upper chamber has only 11 bills.

The case was not the same in the 7th Assembly. In July 2011, the lawmakers then debated about 10 bills before embarking on their annual recess on July 28, 2011.

Some of the bills introduced at the Senate are Nigerian Railway Corporation (Repeal and Re-enactment) Bill, 2015 by Andy Uba and Federal Capital Territory Area Councils (Administrative and Political Structure) Bill 2015, by Phillip Aduda, both on June 23.

Yesterday the senators in the order paper scheduled to consider two bills, but by 1pm the lawmakers resolved that the bills should be stood down for another legislative day.

Also, five new bills were yesterday presented at the floor, swelling the figure of bills that have passed first reading but not debated by the lawmakers. But senate spokesperson Dino Melaye said it was easier to present motions than bills.

At the lower chamber, a total of 19 bills have so far been introduced on the floor for first reading, but none was ever listed for debate.

The first five bills presented on the floor of the House were on July 8, four of which were sponsored by Speaker Yakubu Dogara.

Some of the bills presented but not debated are: Federal Competition Commission (Establishment) Bill, 2015; Data Protection Bill, 2015; Public Interest Disclosure Bill, 2015 and Subsidiary Legislation (Regulation) Bill, 2015, all in the name of Dogara, while the other one was Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (Alteration) Bill, 20l5, sponsored by Ossai Nicholas Ossai.

Reacting, executive director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Mr Auwal Ibrahim Musa Rafsanjani, blamed the development on the higher number of new legislators and the lingering leadership crisis.

“For me, as far as I’m concerned, the problem has to do with: first, many of the members of the National Assembly are new. They haven’t been able to understand their legislative roles and responsibilities. There is no proper induction for them to be able to understand the rudiments of legislative process and procedures.

“The truth of the matter is that you have almost 50 percent of the new legislators who require better understanding on how to carry out legislative work. That exposure is required for them to do their work.

“Thirdly, this unnecessary leadership crisis also slows down the work they are supposed to do. But now, there is some level of stability. The issue is over. There shouldn’t be any excuses for failing to carry out legislative roles and responsibilities. Ideally, there are lots of pending legislative issues which the last National Assembly were unable to complete,” he said.