Senate stands down bill on inauguration of National Assembly

Senators in Plenary
Senate in Plenary

The Senate on Wednesday stood down a bill for an act to provide for the inauguration of the National Assembly to ensure the smooth transfer of legislative power from the outgoing National Assembly to the incoming.

The lawmakers cited constitutional matters as reason for stepping down the bill.

The resolution of the Senate followed the lead debate of the general principles of the bill by the sponsor, Gabriel Suswam (PDP-Benue North-east), during the plenary.

Leading the debate, Mr Suswam said the Bill was read for the first time on September 25.

He said the objective of the bill was to ensure a smooth transition of legislative powers from the outgoing national assembly to the incoming assembly.

This, he said was after the dissolution of the outgoing assembly by the President in the exercise of his powers under Section 64(3) of the constitution.

“Specifically, this bill seeks to ensure clarity and certainty with respect to the day/date for convening and inaugurating the incoming assembly.”

Seconding the bill, Eyinnaya Abaribe (PDP-Abia North), noted that the senate could not be inaugurated except by the proclamation of the president.

“Assuming you have a president that refuses to proclaim, how do we sit? This is the issue that we are making sure that we entrench along other good things about democracy.

“It is very good that we continue to entrench democracy,” Mr Abaribe said.

Senate Deputy Minority Leader, Emmanuel Bwacha, said the bill was a masterpiece that would moderate the senate’s proceedings.

“What happened in the 8th Senate and even the 9th Senate, if there had been a bill like this in place, there would have been no need for the issues on inauguration or even the court process that we went through that almost divided us at the period of inauguration.

“The bill is a demonstration of the fact that we want to moderate ourselves just as we have laws that regulate agencies as empowered by the constitution,” he said.

In his contribution, Adamu Aliero (APC-Kebbi Central), raised Orders 63 and 64 of the Senate’s standing rules which states:

“The Senate and the House of Representatives shall sit for a period of not less than 181 days in a year.

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“The Senate and the House of Representatives shall stand dissolved at the expiration of a period of four years commencing from the date of the first sitting of the House.

“The first sitting will be done immediately after a proclamation by the president and when the proclamation is signed, the senate reconvenes.

“I doubt very much that what Suswam is proposing will not go against the provisions of the Constitution,” he said.

Similarly, James Manager (PDP-Delta South) commended the bill, but with caution.

“Usually, the outgoing senate is aware of when they are leaving; the incoming Senate is not very clear of which particular day the inauguration is going to take place.

“This bill has come to bring certainty as to when the senate is sitting. I think it is the practice the world over.

“However, there are serious constitutional issues.

“This bill will provoke a lot of discussions. Let there be serious and rigorous public hearing on the bill for us to have certainty as to when the assembly will be inaugurated.

“Because of the obvious national implication of the bill, this is one bill that will require serious constitutional amendment to streamline things even in the states,” Mr Manager said.

Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege said, “In the exercise of the power vested in Section 4, whatever we come with here are Acts of the assembly.

“And when Acts of the assembly are in conflict with specific constitutional provisions, what happens.

“It is for us to make this amendment. It is for us to amend the constitution and not by passing a bill that will be in conflict with the provisions of the constitution”.

In his remarks, President of the Senate. Ahmad Lawan, said: “I agree that it is a constitutional matter that we need to resolve.

“This Bill, even if signed into law, cannot vitiate Section 64 of the Constitution. I will advise that we tow the path of constitutional amendment to achieve that.



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