Issues as 9th NASS commences 3rd legislative session






After a week recess to mark its second anniversary, the 9th National Assembly will Tuesday this week, commence third legislative session. TAIYE ODEWALE examines bills that will be at the front burner of legislative consideration and passage within the next three weeks.

Introduction 

National Assembly in Nigeria in line with bi-cameral legislature provided for by the 1999 Constitution, consists of the Senate and the House of Representatives .

Both chambers since June 4, 1999, when the 4th National Assembly was inaugurated, have been running the same legislative calendar of June to June on yearly basis which made  the  present 9th National Assembly, having been inaugurated on Tuesday, June 11, 2019, been running yearly legislative calendar of June 11 to June 11, the second of which both chambers ended penultimate week by embarking on a week recess to separate its second legislative year from the third which begins today.

Prioritised legislative activities for the third session

At separate legislative sessions held penultimate week before embarking on a week recess to end their second legislative year, both chambers rolled out bills of national importance that they will focus attention on for final consideration and passage before embarking on their yearly long recess of July to September .

In the Senate in particular, the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan in a speech delivered to Senators during the end of the  second anniversary session said a total of 742 bills were introduced by the 9th Senate in the last two years. 

According to him, out of the total number of bills introduced during the two sessions of the Assembly, 58 have been passed, while 355 bills have gone through first reading.

In addition, the Senate President further disclosed that 175 bills have also gone through second reading and have been referred to the relevant committee for further legislative business; with 11 bills referred by the House of Representatives for concurrence all passed.

He stressed that, “the bills cut across all the sectors and touch most areas of needs in the lives of our citizens.” 

Lawan recalled that the 9th Assembly in its bid to rescue the nations’s economy, embarked on the restoration of Nigeria’s budget cycle to the January to December timeline. 

The move, according to him, brought about positive outcomes which made the country’s fiscal plans more predictable and boosted investors’ confidence. 

He added that the passage of the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contracts Act 2004 (Amendment Bill, 2009) was intended to increase Nigeria’s share of revenue from crude oil. 

“Other laws that we passed that are having significant impacts on the economy include the Finance Bill 2019 (Nigeria Tax and Fiscal Law) (SB.140), which amended seven existing tax laws.

“In our legislative agenda, we had also promised to create a legal environment conducive for ease of doing business.  

“We kept this promise by passing the Companies and Allied Matters Act, Cap C20 LFN 2004 (Repeal and Reenactment) Bill 2019 (SB.270)”, he said. 

Assurances given on critical bills 

In the speech, Lawan specifically assured that the upper chamber would, finally this month (June), pass the Petroleum Industry Bill ( PIB)  after about 20 years of failed attempts.  

On the ongoing constitution review exercise, he assured that both chambers have set a target to consider the report of the Committee on the Amendment of the 1999 Constitution in July before proceeding for the annual long recess. 

He gave similar assurance on the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill in paving way for electronic transmission of results by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

 “In 2023, we shall have the seventh regular cycle of general elections, the longest in the history of our nation. 

“Despite the progress, gaps and inadequacies have been identified in the process. 

“The electoral reform bill seeks to address these gaps and we have committed ourselves to passing the bill before the annual summer recess”, he said.

He also added that in giving more bites to the war against insurgency, armed banditry and other forms of criminality in the land, the already forwarded  N895billion supplementary budget proposal from the executive for adequate funding of the various security agencies, will be given expeditious consideration and passage before the July – September long recess.

But with just three weeks available for  legislative consideration of the various important bills, in view of El-del Kabir celebration coming up on the 19th of July and public holiday associated with it, which will dovetail into its annual long recess from last week of July to last week of September, will NASS be able to do justice to all the bills, in terms of passage, particularly, the constitution review? 

Time will definitely tell.












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