Ninth Assembly @ One: Reps treat 850 bills, 394 motions

Femi Gbajabiamila
Femi Gbajabiamila

The ninth House of Representatives under the leadership of Femi Gbajabiamila has considered 850 bills and 394 motions.

According to a statement by the House spokesperson, Benjamin Kalu, the 850 bills are at different legislative levels of consideration.

This is an indication that the ninth assembly has surpassed the preceding eighth assembly under the leadership of Yakubu Dogara which introduced 1,473 bills in three years.

The breakdown given by Mr Kalu indicates that out of the 853 bills introduced so far, 639 are awaiting second reading, 103 have been referred to committees and 64 are before the committee of the whole.

He further gave a breakdown that 41 of those bills have been read for the third time, 1 rejected bill, 2 withdrawn bills and a total of 36 have been passed.

KEY BILLS

Mr Kalu said the 9th House has been ensuring that the bills they pass provide real solutions to real issues.

He said they have passed bills to end estimated electricity billing, guarantee interest free student loans for higher education, provide a better labour environment for Nigerian workers, strengthen agriculture and diversify the economy and provide a favourable business environment for MSMEs among others.

Some of these bills include the Electric Power Sector Reform Act (Amendment) Bill; the Physically Challenged (Empowerment) Bill; National Orientation Agency Act (Amendment) Bill; Labour Act (Amendment) Bill; Finance Bill; Students Loan (Access to Higher Education) Bill; Federal Roads Bill, 2019; Public Procurement Act (Amendment) Bill; the Company and Allied Matters Bill; and the Emergency Economic Stimulus Bill, 2020.

“Furthermore, in line with our promise for national budget reforms, the House took the pains to ensure that for the first time in over 20 years, the Appropriation Bill was passed in time to return the national budget to a January-December budget cycle.”

“Correspondingly, in a swift reaction to ensure better budget funding and promote ease of business for MSMEs, we passed the Finance Bill in time to accompany the 2020 budget.”

MOTIONS

According to the spokesperson, the House has considered a total of 394 motions out of which 393 resolutions were reached.

According to him, many of the motions considered by the House in the past year were products of diligently conducted needs analysis to reflect the will of the people, exercise its oversight responsibilities as stipulated in Sections 88 and 89 of the 1999 Constitution and address front burner issues in the nation.

Some of the motions are; Rising insecurity in several parts of Nigeria in 2019, Financial management and improprieties of several ministries, departments and agencies of the executive arm, The need to reactivate abandoned seaports across the country, The extrabudgetary spending of NDDC and their failure to submit their 2019 budget estimates over 13 months past the due date and The ecological challenges of several constituencies in Nigeria.

Others are Issues arising from the COVID-19 pandemic including, the evacuation of Nigerians stranded overseas, the need for palliatives and stimulus packages, need for electricity tariff reprieve during the extended lockdown, the need for more isolation centres and increased public health awareness, and many more.

He also listed the casualisation of labour by local and international companies, Maltreatment and racial discrimination of Nigerians in China and The need for better laws and stiffer penalties for rape and violence against women.

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PETITIONS

In the area of petitions, the House has received a total of 151 petitions, according to its spokesperson.

He said all the petitions are before the Committee on Public Petitions for consideration.

He however did not state whether the house has successfully treated any of the petitions to a conclusion.

COVID-19

In the area of the dreaded coronavirus which has ravaged the entire globe, the spokesperson said the House has substantially contributed to the fight against it.

He said Individually, members of the House on March 31 donated two months of their salaries to the COVID-19 fund, and continue to engage in extensive sensitization of their constituents on public health and safety protocols, while personally donating palliatives and PPEs for indigent people in their various constituencies across Nigeria.

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“Collectively, the House has Prevailed on the Federal Government to evacuate, return and quarantine Nigerians stranded overseas due to Covid-19 travel restrictions, Directed the Federal Ministry of Education to convert available Federal Government properties across the country for use as emergency care centres and isolation units by the Federal Ministry of Health and the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and Passed the first Emergency Economic Stimulus Bill in a bid to mitigate the adverse economic effects of the pandemic on Nigerians.

“The house has also Prevailed on the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development to improve the implementation of the National Social Investment Programs (NSIPs), the National Conditional Cash Transfer Programme, and update the National Social Register (NSR), to ensure that all social programmes are more impactful, particularly as we struggle to recover from the economic impacts of Covid-19; and Sought a 2-month electricity tariff reprieve for Nigerians through the second Emergency Economic Stimulus Bill in order to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

CHALLENGES

The house recalled that some of its challenges were the passing of some of its members,

He also said another challenge is the slow implementation of House resolutions by the executive amid expectation that the executive will do better in honoring the resolutions of the House.

He said the House also contended with several instances of misinformation which attempted to pitch the public against the legislature.

“We acknowledge the need for constant public engagement to help in the demystification of the functions of the legislature and invariably cure the opaqueness around our activities.”

“We acknowledge the efforts of the Committee on Media and Public Affairs in this regard.”

“We recall the public outcry regarding the Control of Infectious Diseases Bill, introduced to the House in response to the gaps observed in our Quarantine Act.”

“Fortunately, this outcry, though premature, allowed us the opportunity to reassure Nigerians of our commitment to continuous public engagement in our activities as the bill is currently undergoing public hearing with the extensive participation of relevant stakeholders.”

He said another challenge of the house was the reaction of Nigerians against the House regarding the high cost of ₦37bn budgeted for the renovation of the National Assembly Complex.

“While this feedback was misdirected, as the project falls under the auspices of the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA), it is instructive to state that the cost has been reduced to ₦9bn in the revised 2020 budget, thanks to the engagement of the Nigerian public,” he said.



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