The 9th Assembly was inaugurated on 11 June 2019 with a clear cut legislative agenda. The agenda was prioritised based on the yearnings of Nigerians.
While unveiling the agenda, the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan specifically, disclosed that they are working on a National Assembly that works for the people.”
Among some of the critical aspects of the 9th Senate’s legislative agenda is the much talked about Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), 2010 Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, Amendment of the 1999 Constitution and the electoral act amendment.
None of these bills have been passed two years after the legislative agenda was released.
But the president of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has said that despite their inability to pass these important bills, the Senate fared well in the last two years.
The passage of the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract (PSC) Amendment Bill among 58 others out of 742 bills introduced in two years still raises questions.
Even though it is not only the duty of the lawmakers to work on bills; their investigations and oversights, checks and balances, constituency service, building coalition and politics of inclusion seem to be at its lowest ebb.
Oversight functions in the last two years were narrowed to visits to offices and not sites. COVID-19 was virtually blamed for the ineffectiveness of the constituency duties and check and balances.
In the last two years, 742 bills were introduced. Only 58 bills were passed. 355 bills were only read once and might be abandoned. Most lawmakers are only interested in introducing bills that enable their names to get into the ‘bills sponsorship list’ and not its quality and importance to Nigerians.
175 bills went through second reading and have been referred to the relevant committees. 11 bills seeking concurrence from the House of Representatives were passed.
But Senate president, Ahmad Lawan has said that the bills passed cut across all the sectors and touch most areas of needs of Nigerians.
Lawan said the 9th Assembly in its bid to rescue the nation’s economy, restored Nigeria’s budget cycle to the January – December.
The milestone, 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)”, Lawan said.
The Senate President assured that the upper chamber would, finally this month (June), pass the Petroleum Industry Bill after about 20 years of failed attempts.
On moves by the National Assembly to amend the Constitution, Lawan disclosed that the Legislature has set a target to consider the report of the Committee on the Amendment of the 1999 Constitution in July before proceeding for the annual recess.
On the Electoral Bill presently before the National Assembly, Lawan said, “In 2023, we shall have the seventh regular cycle of general elections, the longest in the history of our nation.”
The 9th Assembly bragged about a cordial relationship between them and the Executive but only 22 percent of the 69 of their resolutions on insecurity were implemented by the executive. In most cases, the implementations came late. The next two years will define the extent of the performance of the 9th Senate.