1st Session Of The 8th Nigerian Senate: Impact on Legislation, Legislature and Legislators By Kayode Omotose
As the clock ticks and the first session of the 8th senate draws to an end, nothing encapsulates their performance than the commendation of President Muhammadu Buhari who, when he hosted them to a dinner at the villa last week expressed delight at their work and specifically thanked them for their cooperation and said he was looking forward to June 9, 2016 when they would clock a year in office. The primary purpose of the parliament is to make laws for the good governance of the country, but that is equally the challenge of the leadership which bears the onerous task to set up a programme of action that would define their path.
This was the cornerstone upon which the President of the Senate Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki set up a team that ultimately came with a whopping over 30 governance economic reform bills that deserve being worked upon or reworked to achieve growth and development of our nation at this cross road. The kickoff point was the visit of the leadership to the war ravaged North East.
Arriving from there they choose to strongly commit themselves to the agenda of routing Boko Haram by inviting the service chiefs for briefing and approving the necessary funds . Today the rampaging terrorist group, described as the deadliest in the world is on way to extinction. To assess the legion of impact of the red chamber on the legislature as an institution is huge but the ground breaking move never articulated before was to design a template for robust oversight of budget implementation. Herein the desire to set up a commission consisting of a world leading research institute to be advised by an internationally acclaimed anti corruption expert was unfolded to draw up a blueprint which shall strive to meet the highest international standards including the “kitemah system ” as announced by the Commonwealth.
To percolate across the strata Dr Saraki promised that the template shall be made available to the legislature of states and local governments. This shows that the institution of the legislature all over the country will benefit. For all practical purposes good governance can never fail nor can the society slide into the abyss if the legislature does and is allowed to perform its functions in the most efficient and effective manner.
In looking at their impact on legislation such critical laws underway include the Minerals and Mining act, Climate Change, Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency act, Fertilizer National Poverty Eradication Commission, Repeal of the Forestry Research Institute Act etc. At this threshold of unemployment crises the specific terms of the amendments being contemplated on the Public Procurement act which is targeted at the promotion of made in Nigeria goods, create jobs, build expertise and give meaning to the ban on obnoxious importation of what analysts describe as “crazy and senseless items” like toothpicks, biro, handkerchief, tomato paste (while Nigeria is in the top 5 producers in the world) is quite outstanding.
It was to give an inkling in this sphere the Senate President led the principal officers to attend the made in Aba trade fair and Don the Igbo regalia afterwards to show case the beauty of Igbo culture. To examine the impact of the 8th senate on the legislators, the novel and most interesting decision of the National Assembly is in the consideration of Constituency Development Catalyst Fund bill. This bill would, relevant to cost, mandate the federal government via its MDAs to undertake a project of the choice of each elected office holder in each senatorial /federal constituency. Every legislator would be excited by this because he would be able to fulfill his campaign promise to his constituents.
Another area of note for which the 8th senate is impactful is in the welfare of the over 6,000 staff or adjuncts of the NASS who are the engine room and key element of the legislature as an institution. Being reputed for being the first President of the Senate that comes to office every working day and the first to have undertaken a comprehensive tour of all the segments and facilities of the NASS, Dr Saraki after embarking on his see -things -by -myself inspection, knew that the press centre needed attention, he gave it comprehensive facelift and provided state of the art equipment to the delight of the gentlemen of the pen. At the medical centre he discovered that the clinic has been in a temporary abode since it was established. He has promised to complete the permanent site, move them there and provide necessary equipment to enable them serve even the members of the public as a social responsibility measure.
With this work rate he was able to receive in audience numerous callers such as the MD of the World Bank Ms Christine Lagarde whom she urged to design special programme for Nigeria to address our economic problems and especially create jobs. He received the Fulani herdsmen and promised effective legislation to stop incessant conflict with farmers. Less than a week later the Chairman Committee on Agriculture Senator Abdulahi Adamu convened a public sitting attended by all stakeholders and the Minister of Agriculture Chief Audu Ogbeh for this purpose. When the CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele and his team visited, he charged them to adopt a realistic forex policy with small and medium enterprises at heart to save jobs. This was hearkened to and the SME wrote to commend him. The Institute of Directors of Nigeria, several Ambassadors and Heads of mission, citizens with disabilities, the management of Unilever Plc and so forth have also been received in audience.
To all of them he appealed for support and assistance for the country. He gave succour to many and hope of a better tomorrow in Nigeria. To date the senate has 212 bills under its belt either at the 1st, 2nd or 3rd reading. 162 motions and resolutions as well as 125 petitions that was received. If we juxtapose this with the fact that the constitution require them to seat for a minimum of 181 days, they deserve to be garlanded.
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