Reps Intensify Legislative Action At Plenary, Committees

Reps Intensify Legislative Action At Plenary, Committees

By Ali Maha

It was a beehive of activities last week at the National Assembly as both wings auspiciously carried out their respective legislative duties with dexterity and sense of responsibility.

At the House of Representatives, Tuesday to Thursday’s plenary was particularly tasking. It is the third session of the 8th Assembly and much to the expectations of the public, deliberations on impending Bills, reports on committees and other important legislative functions took centre stage at each plenary.

Budget defense by various Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs, equally received attention. Committee chairmen and their various members drilled and queried Ministers, Executive Directors and Heads of Parastatals to defend their budget performance of 2017 appropriation and also present their 2018 budgets respectively.

At the plenary of Wednesday, January 31, 2018, a Bill for an act to establish the Nigerian Electoral Offences Commission passed through Third Reading. After exhaustive deliberations, the Bill was eventually passed into law. Before passing the bill, the House Speaker, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara highlighted the importance of the Bill.

According to him, “now that the period of electioneering is here, it is imperative to have law in place that punishes all electoral offences. This way, electoral crime such as electoral fraud, thuggery and other acts of violence during election will be curbed.”

Also mentioned at Wednesday’s plenary was the Bill for an Act to amend the Federal Character Commission Act, Cap F7 of the law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2004, This Bill prays the legislators to give married women a legal option for indigeneship in their places of marriage and to also provide for the establishment of Federal Character Tribunal for the prosecution of violation of the Federal Character Act. This Bill was jointly proposed by the duo of Hon. Edward Gyang Pwajok and Hon. Ochiglegor Idagbor.

Other Bills that were considered on the floor of the Green Chambers was the Bill for an Act to establish the Nigerian Maritime University, Okorenkoko, Delta State; A Bill to establish Federal Polytechnic Abriba in Abia State by Hon. Nkole U. Ndukwe; and the Bill for an Act to repeal the Health Records Officers Act, Cap H2, Laws of the Federation, 2004 and in its place, re-enact the Health Information Practitioners Council of Nigeria proposed by Hon. Mohammed Usman.

According to Hon. Mohammed, if the above law is passed, there will be effective and efficient Health Information Management. Hon. Muhammed also argued that the Bill if passed into law will regulate the Training, Practice and Management of Health Information System in Nigeria. This is the second time the Bill will be mentioned on the floor.

Similarly, Hon. Gaza Jonathan Gbefwi moved a motion requesting for the extension of referral time to enable the Ad-hoc committee on the Abuse of Pioneer Status by companies to conclude work on the matter. His request was granted.

Thursday’s plenary was indeed another high point of legislative activities. The Bill for an Act to amend the provisions of Electoral Act No. 6, 2010 and Electoral Amendment Act 2015 to provide a timeline for submission of candidates, criteria for submission of candidates, limits of campaign expenses and address the omission of names for candidates for elective position was considered and passed into law. During the deliberations of the Bill, members who argue for and eventually had it were of the opinion that the Bill will go a long way to assuage the problems of omission of candidates’ names and party logos on ballot papers during election. Also considered before passing this Bill into law is checkmating the excessive expenditure of electioneering campaigns aggregating that this contributes grossly to the problems of underperformance by politicians who after such spending spree during campaign, get elected and would want to recoup what they have spent. The Bill was massively voted for after all submissions and arguments.

Another Bill that got the nod of the parliamentarians was the Bill for an Act to amend the Energy Commission of Nigeria Act, Cap E10, laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004. This proposed law is to provide for the establishment of renewable and alternative energy development and utilization fund, and to also grant priority to promotion and development of renewable and other alternative energy. The bill after third reading was unanimously passed into law.

The House also received and considered report of some of the committees that have been working assiduously. At Wednesday’s plenary, the House considered the report of the committee on National orientation, ethics and values whose main tenets is to provide for an Act to establish National Agency for Ethics and Values and to provide for the functions and powers of the Agency and the decide the qualifications and procedures for the chairman and members of the Agency. This and many other reports were considered.

Within the week under review, various House investigative committees were at work to receive and assess the presentations of the 2017 budget performances and the defense of the 2018 Budget. On one of the occasion, the committee on works had on defense, the Surveyor-General of the Federation who led a team of Directors before the Hon. Tobi Okechukwu chaired committee on works.

After the Surveyor-General presented the 2017 Budget performance for his directorate, the chairman of the committee cross examined his submission and found that the budget performance submitted was incomplete as it does not provide for recurrent expenditure and budget surplus.

The S. G whose presentation was excellent initially could not defend these omissions pointed out by the committee chairman as he flip through pages of his document to no avail. The committee chair magnanimously asked him to retreat and put his house in order and return the following day for better presentation and analysis.

Nigerian Online Newspaper=


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