The outgoing Senate led by David Mark, has come under heavy lashing by the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, which described the Senate’s unprecedented passage of 46 bills in 10 minutes last Wednesday as a “reckless path to lawmaking”.
The 46 Bills had earlier been passed by the House of Representatives and transmitted to the Senate for concurrence.
In a rare move, the Senators on Wednesday set aside all known law making protocols to get the Bills passed into law, as they came under pressure to leave behind an impressive record of performance with the 7th Assembly session coming to a close.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Rules and Business, Ita Enang, (APC-Akwa Ibom North-East), led the lawmakers to invoke Order 79 (1) (b) of the Senate Standing Order 2011 (as amended) to adopt a special procedure on pending Bills for concurrence.
The Senate Standing Orders authorised the passage of the Bills without the draft laws having to pass the first, second and third readings on the floor of the Senate, while the concurred Bills were reproduced and circulated to all Senators before final passage.
The NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, on Monday expressed “profound shock and disappointment at the action of the National Assembly”, saying the Senate’s passage of 46 Bills “without legislation” in ten minutes was “competing for the Guinness Book of Records for legislative infamy.”
Some of the Bills are the Office of the Nigerian Financial Ombudsman Bill, 2015; Institute of Chartered Trustees of Nigeria Bill, 2015; Nigerian Bank for Commerce and Industry Act (Repeal) Bill, 2015; Federal Saving Bank Act (Repeal) Bill, 2015 and People’s Bank of Nigeria Act (Repeal) Bill, 2015.
The Senate also passed Federal Audit Commission Bill, 2015; Treasury Management Bill, 2015; Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Act 2010 (Amendment) Bill, 2015 and Investment, Securities (Amendment) Bill, 2015 Loan (State Development) Act (Repeal) Bill, 2015; Chartered Institute of Statisticians of Nigeria Bill, 2015 and Nigerian Metallurgical Industry Bill, 2015.
The National Assembly was criticised for spending over N600 billion in four years in passing only about 106 within the period.
Members of the House of Representatives, Mr. Wabba said, also took their turn the next day to pass 14 Bills transmitted by the Senate, without following the regular legislative procedures.
“Whoever advised our lawmakers to take this reckless path to law making has only succeeded in putting an indelible dent on whatever achievements that the 7th session of the National Assembly wished to be ascribed to it,” the NLC president said.
By this singular action, Mr. Wabba said the lawmakers not only displayed gross disdain for the philosophy of law making in a democratic setting, but have also exposed their manifest lack of interest in and commitment to the wellbeing of Nigerians.
Apart from ridiculing themselves, he said the Senators have unfortunately embarrassed the country in the eyes of the civilised global community.
By abridging the law making process and skipping the first, second and third reading process and public hearing on the Bills, he said the lawmakers denied Nigerians the opportunity to interrogate their desirability or otherwise of these bills.
With the manner the Bills were passed, the NLC urged President Muhammadu Buhari not to sign them into law, rather he should return them to the incoming National Assembly to be subjected to proper legislative procedures.
The NLC President called on the incoming 8th legislature to ensure that they departed from the opaque ways of the previous, particularly in being prudent, accountable, transparent and more effective in their legislative and oversight functions.
Specifically, he said it would be in the public interest if the huge resources committed to lawmakers’ welfare and other pecks of office, were reviewed drastically downward and re-directed to more demanding areas of the economy in line with current economic realities in the overall interest of all.
He promised to meet with the leaderships of both chambers of the 8th National Assembly in due course once they are put in place, to further engage them on these and other issues of national interest.
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