With over 300 Bills Passed, Eighth N’Assembly Adjourns Sine Die Thursday

                                    

As the Eighth National Assembly winds down its legislative activities today, with a valedictory session scheduled to begin at 10 a.m., Akelicious’s findings revealed that the Senate passed 319 bills within four years.
However, President Muhammadu Buhari vetoed no fewer than 65 of such bills.

Apart from the number of bills, which surpassed those passed by the Fifth to Seventh Senate, the upper chamber of the nation’s legislature also treated 219 public petitions brought before it.

The House of Representatives, however, had more hauls in bill passage, clocking 382 bills, 1,588 motions, and 1,192 petitions

The acting Clerk, House of Representatives, Mr. Patrick Giwa, made this known in a letter informing the federal lawmakers that the Special valedictory session to end the Eight House holds on today.

At the session this morning, Senate President Bukola Saraki, who doubles as the Chairman of the National Assembly, is expected to give his valedictory speech as well as make public some books chronicling his stewardship.

However, mixed reactions from different groups and professionals have greeted the legislative activities of the outgoing federal lawmakers.

Some of the bills passed by the legislature include the Nigerian Railway Bill 2015, Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act CAP B2 LFN 2011 (Repeal and Re-enactment) 2015; National Institute for Cancer Research and Treatment (est, etc.) Bill 2015, Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria (est., etc.) Bill 2015; Electronic Transaction Bill 2015; Agriculture Credit Guarantee Scheme Act (Amendment) Bill 2015; Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme (Est., etc.) Bill, 2015 and Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Bill 2015.

Others include, the North East Development Commission (NEDC) (Est., etc.) Bill 2015; Erosion Control and Prevention Commission (Est., etc.) Bill 2015; Counterfeit and Fake Drugs and Unwholesome Processed Foods (Miscellaneous provision) Amendment Bill 2015; Federal University of Petroleum Resources Effurun (Est, etc) Bill 2015; Food Security Bill 2015; Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Service (Establishment, etc) Bill 2015; Environmental Managers Registration Council of Nigeria (Establishment, etc) Bill 2015; Nigeria Institute of Soil Science (Establishment, etc) Bill 2015 and Nigeria Football Federation (Establishment, etc) and others Bill.

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In the last six months alone, the Senate passed no few than 60 bills, including the National Minimum Wage Bill, which pegged the least salary of a worker at N30,000. Forty of such bills were passed within the last three weeks.
However, despite the large number of bills passed by the Senate and by extension, the House of Representatives, Buhari has in the last four years refused assent to no fewer than 65 bills.

Some of the rejected bills by the president included the controversial National Housing Fund Bill; Ajaokuta Steel Company Completion Fund Bill; Nigerian Aeronautical Search and Rescue Bill; Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency Bill and National Biotechnology Development Agency Bill.

Others are the National Institute of Credit Administration Bill; Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria Bill; the Chartered Institute of Training and Development of Nigeria (Establishment) Bill and the four versions of the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill.

The legislative interventions of the upper chamber of the National Assembly since June, 2015 include, the first-ever National Assembly Joint Public Hearing on the budget, which gave the public, civil society organisations and stakeholders such as labour an opportunity to weigh-in on the 2017 Appropriations Bill.

The Senate also intervened in the Abuja Airport closure in 2017, saying the closure would affect businesses operating in the capital and pushed for alternatives to the closure of the Abuja airport.

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In September 2016, the Senate constituted an eight-man Ad-hoc Committee on North-east to ascertain the total amount of funds released to the Presidential Initiative on the North-East and to probe spending by the Federal Government on the humanitarian crisis in the geopolitical zone.

The committee later indicted the then Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Babachir Lawal, for allegedly misappropriating about N200 million.

Other legislative interventions by the Senate include allocation of N10 billion in March 2016 to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the North-east in recognition of the dire situation.

The Senate also submitted a 21-point resolution on executive actions that the executive needed to take to shore up investors’ confidence, create jobs, increase revenues and get Nigeria’s economy back on track.

The last legislative intervention of the Senate was the N10 billion it added to the N8.916trillion 2019 budget passed last month by the National Assembly, to tackle humanitarian crisis in Zamfara State.

This followed a request by Senator Kabiru Marafa (Zamfara Central) in a motion moved to that effect on the floor of the Senate.

But in his assessment of the outgoing Senate, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions, Senator Adebayo Ibrahim (Kwara South), told Akelicious that the upper chamber has performed creditably well.

He said he was fulfilled as a member of the outgoing Senate, going by the achievements recorded.
He said: “I’m proud to be a member of the Eighth Senate because from the leaders to members, we upheld the tenets of democracy despite all odds and executive intimidation.

“Up till the last sitting, we were still passing bills and also concurring with the House of Representatives on some of their bills. The Senate stands tall as we handled many petitions in the interest of the public.”

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Also, the Vice Chairman of Senate Committee on Media and Publicity, Senator Ben Murray-Bruce (Bayelsa East), said the Senate did a good job in the last four years “in spite of the difficulties we had with the Executive.’’
He expressed concern that senators were at times divided along party lines, which affected the legislative work at the Red Chamber.

Murray-Bruce advised the executive not to interfere in the choice of leadership of the Ninth Assembly billed for inauguration on Tuesday.

“The legislature should be left to choose its leaders. This is my candid advice as most of the fighting and distractions of the Eighth Senate were caused by executive interference,” he said.

On his part, the National Publicity Secretary, Afenifere, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, said the Eighth Assembly deserves the commendation of Nigerians for preserving the tenets of democracy.

According to him, “They came in at a very trying moment for the Nigerian democracy; when we stand to have what would be an elected dictatorship. Even under the military administration, we had judiciary.

‘’But under this administration, we were going to have only an executive arm of government where the other arms would have been subservient to the executive.
“But no matter what we may have against the National Assembly as presently constituted, we must give it to the Dogara and Saraki’s House of Representatives and Senate respectively.
“They did their best in ensuring that they cooperated with the executive, when required. They stamped the authority of the legislature where necessary at all times and that was what gave us some semblance of democracy in this country; otherwise we would have had a full elected dictatorship in Nigeria.”

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