The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has rejected the call for a unicameral legislature for Nigeria that would require scrapping the Senate or the House of Representatives.
Mr Lawan, who spoke on Monday at the third convocation of the Nigerian Institute of Legislative and Development Studies (NILDS), picked Nigeria’s diversity as the basis of his argument.
He said with a single parliamentary house, the ethnic minorities in the country will be underrepresented in parliament.
“Nigeria has consciously adopted to have a bicameral National Assembly. It is because of who and what we are.
“The diversity of Nigeria and ethnic composition of the country requires that we have a system that provides Justice, Equity and Fair play.
“It is a conscious decision and design to ensure that everybody is represented in the country. We need bi-cameral legislature in Nigeria.” he told his audience.
He said the call should be for an improvement in the productivity of lawmakers and not for scraping of one of the chambers.
On the ongoing consideration of the 2020 budget, he said that the target of October 29 as the last date for budget defence remains sacrosanct.
Mr Lawan said between October 30 and November 5, all the Senate committees would defend their budget before the Appropriation Committees of both the Senate and the House.
He also reiterated that the National Assembly’s commitment to presenting the budget before both houses on November 28 and pass it before the end of December.
Mr Lawan also said the lawmakers would ensure that the budget is implemented.
He, however, cited the availability of revenue as the main constraint to fulfilling this.
To make up for this, he said the Senate passed an amendment to the Production Sharing Contracts Act of 1993, which would earn Nigeria $1.7 billion annually.
“Before the passage of that Act, which should have been done in 2003, up to date Nigeria gets only $216m from the PSC.”
Mr Lawan added: “We have so many areas of revenue generation every day and yet, we hardly see these revenues. I think it is a big challenge to the National Assembly and the National Assembly will go all the way, take the bull by the horns and look for our revenues wherever they are.
“We don’t have to continue to borrow. When you are a little poorer, you start looking for who is owing you. Now we have a problem and if we had surplus before and ignored so many things today, there is a paucity of fund and so every single kobo counts and we will look for that wherever it is.”
In his address, Abubakar Sulaiman, the Director-General of NILDS, said since the inception of the institute in 2013, a total of 271 students have enrolled for various programmes.
Sixty-five students were conferred with Master’s degree on the day. Of this, 28 bagged Master’s in Legislative Studies, 15 Master’s in Legislative Drafting and 22 Master’s in Parliamentary Administration.
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