Reps force outdated bills through, issuing death threats to those who oppose

Sam Tsokwa

Terrifying details emerged Wednesday on how federal lawmakers, desperate to have resolutions and legislations-many of them obsolete- credited to them, menace their ways through, sometimes threatening to kill those opposing the bills’ presentation.
The chairman of the House of Representatives committee on Business and Rules, Sam Tsokwa (Taraba state), made the chilling revelations Wednesday to an audience of lawmakers and non-legislators.
To the lawmakers, the charge appeared hardly shocking for a chamber that has witnessed violent clashes in the past, and whose members sponsor some of the largest number of motions weekly.
Mr. Tsokwa said many low quality bills or motions or those repeated are pushed through by their sponsors through intimidation which sometimes include death threats.
“I will not call the name but a member went to my office, in the presence of the committee clerk and my staff and he said he will kill me on issues like this,” Mr. Tsokwa said.
His committee, sometimes referred to as the engine room of the assembly, oversees day-to-day running of the chamber, liaising with the speaker to identify the proposals that are presented daily, a role that pitches him against some members.
Nigeria’s National Assembly, consisting of the senate and the House, churns out a huge number of resolutions weekly, and without any clear legal backing, many of those mandates terminate soon after they are approved.
On a daily basis, members struggle to outdo each other with motions that have been criticized as lacking relevance and depth, and often times appear as the lawmakers’ attempts at justifying their earnings. A number of bills also follow, but many of them still come under criticisms for quality.
At almost every sitting, there are motions on the need to build or repair certain roads, airports, name edifices after personalities, summon government officials and conduct endless probes.
The resulting reports and recommendations from the investigations, such as the recently concluded fuel subsidy inquiry where a plethora of abuses were uncovered, are hardly implemented. On some days, as much as 10 resolutions are presented for consideration, while a number of bills also follow.
The executive refers to the resolutions as advisory, and last week the House of Representatives commenced moves to give constitutional authority to its motion by approving a second reading for a bill that will amend the constitution for that purpose.
Mr. Tsokwa’s outburst occurred following a failed bid to reintroduce a bill seeking accountability and transparency in the management and use of Nigeria’s Ecological Fund by Kingsley Ogundu Chinda (Rivers/PDP).
Other lawmakers said a similar bill had previously been brought to the notice of the lower House prompting its withdrawal. Asked to clarify the bills’ status, Mr. Tsokwa said whenever he attempted to stop repetition of bills and motions already handled, his colleagues would call it bluff and even threaten kill him.Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal, warned his colleagues against threatening the committee chair and repeating proposals that were earlier considered.

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