As Nigeria set to celebrate June 12 Democracy day 2020, it’s also a remarkable date for some of the elected political office holders and lawmakers across the country.
The lower chamber of the National Assembly, will be marking her one year since some of its members were elected into the house. The 9th House of Representatives led by the Speaker, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila has unveiled its scorecard through the spokesperson, Re. Benjamin Okezie Kalu.
The scorecard made available to ABACITYBLOG contain an up-to-date report on the activities of the house by the spokesperson; Legislative Agenda, Summary of Bill Progression, the house activities on COVID-19, Motions, etc.
Read below the full scorecard signed by the House spokesperson Hon. Benjamin Kalu, representing Bende Federal Constituency in Abia State.
Exactly a year ago, your elected representatives were sworn into the 9th House of Representatives. We were inaugurated at a time when the legislature was in needless deep-seated acrimony with the executive to the detriment of national growth. We also inherited a legislature that was unpopular, distrusted and antagonized by the public.
With a herculean task cut out for us, the House, under the leadership of Speaker, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila resolved to do away with business-as-usual, to shake tables and bring about a House of reforms guided by the ethos of Nation Building: A Joint Task. We immediately set to work to return the polity to a system of checks and balances that thrived in an environment of mutual respect and harmony of government; and to also restore public trust in the legislature through transparency, openness and partnership with the public.
As we mark our first year in service, it is in the spirit of this transparency that we render a summarized report of our activities in the past year.
On October 11, 2019, we adopted a legislative agenda wherein we committed to engender positive change in social justice; sustainable power; environment and climate change; economic growth, development and job creation; gender equity; education reform; anti-corruption; sustainable agricultural development; food security; security; welfare of IDPs; public health and national budget reform using all the legislative tools of intervention at our disposal.
Over 100 standing committees were constituted by the leadership of the House to facilitate these policy objectives, with care taken to ensure that all members and Chairpersons were chosen for their unique competencies.
SUMMARY OF BILL PROGRESSION
As at June 10, 2020, over 850 bills have been introduced to the House, and are presently at various stages of consideration as outlined below:
Bills introduced – 853
Bills awaiting second reading – 639
Bills referred to committees – 103
Bills before the committee of the whole – 65
Bills read for the third time – 41
Bills negatived – 1
Bills withdrawn – 2
Bills passed – 36
As the People’s Parliament, we have endeavoured to keep a finger on the pulse of the Nation, ensuring that the bills we pass provide real solutions to real issues. So far, we have passed various bills to end estimated electricity billing, guarantee interest free student loans for higher education, provide a better labour environment for Nigerian workers, strengthen agriculture and diversify the economy and provide a favourable business environment for MSMEs among other issues of the nation. Some of these bills include the Electric Power Sector Reform Act (Amendment) Bill; the Physically Challenged (Empowerment) Bill; National Orientation Agency Act (Amendment) Bill; Labour Act (Amendment) Bill; Finance Bill; Students Loan (Access to Higher Education) Bill; Federal Roads Bill, 2019; Public Procurement Act (Amendment) Bill; the Company and Allied Matters Bill; and the Emergency Economic Stimulus Bill, 2020.
Furthermore, in line with our promise for national budget reforms, the House took the pains to ensure that for the first time in over 20 years, the Appropriation Bill was passed in time to return the national budget to a January-December budget cycle. Correspondingly, in a swift reaction to ensure better budget funding and promote ease of business for MSMEs, we passed the Finance Bill in time to accompany the 2020 budget.
However, beyond our legislative duties, the House has visibly identified with the common Nigerian worker, intervening where necessary, in an effort to ensure a sustainable balance between the interests of employees and employers of labour.
- On October 5, 2019, the House identifying with Nigerian teachers, called for better welfare packages for teachers.
On December 12, 2019, the House intervened in a strike action to ensure the implementation of the agreement between the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE), the Bureau of Public Enterprises and the Federal Ministry of Power.
- On March 12, 2020, following interventions by the leadership of the House, the national leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) promised to review its ongoing two weeks warning strike action.
- On March 17, 2020, the House again intervened to avert industrial action by medical doctors in the FCT in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, making sure to lend its voice to the calls for hazard allowance for medical personnel in the front lines of the fight against coronavirus.
- Over the past year, and in true commitment to section 14 of the 1999 Constitution, the House has also intervened in matters concerning the safety and welfare of Nigerians;
- On September 6, 2019 the House called for calm following xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa, while seeking compensation for Nigerians; and
- On April 10, 2020 the House demanded an end to the inhuman treatment of Nigerians in China at a meeting between the leadership of the House and the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Zhou Pinguan.
In a year marred by the deadly coronavirus pandemic, the House has substantially contributed to the fight against coronavirus. Individually, members of the House on March 31, 2020, donated two months of their salaries to the covid-19 fund, and continue to engage in extensive sensitization of their constituents on public health and safety protocols, while personally donating palliatives and PPEs for indigent people in their various constituencies across Nigeria.
Collectively, the House;
- Prevailed on the Federal Government to evacuate, return and quarantine Nigerians stranded overseas due to Covid-19 travel restrictions;
- Directed the Federal Ministry of Education to convert available Federal Government properties across the country for use as emergency care centres and isolation units by the Federal Ministry of Health and the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC);
- Passed the first Emergency Economic Stimulus Bill in a bid to mitigate the adverse economic effects of the pandemic on Nigerians;
- Prevailed on the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development to improve the implementation of the National Social Investment Programs (NSIPs), the National Conditional Cash Transfer Programme, and update the National Social Register (NSR), to ensure that all social programmes are more impactful, particularly as we struggle to recover from the economic impacts of Covid-19; and Sought a 2-month electricity tariff reprieve for Nigerians through the second Emergency Economic Stimulus Bill in order to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The House has considered a total of 394 motions out of which 393 resolutions were reached. Several of the motions considered by the House in this past year, were products of diligently conducted needs analysis to reflect the will of the people, exercise its oversight responsibilities as stipulated in Sections 88 and 89 of the 1999 Constitution and address front burner issues in the nation, a few of which are; Rising insecurity in several parts of Nigeria in 2019,
- Financial management and improprieties of several ministries, departments and agencies of the executive arm,
The need to reactivate abandoned seaports across the country,
- The extrabudgetary spending of NDDC and their failure to submit their 2019 budget estimates over 13 months past the due date,
- The ecological challenges of several constituencies in Nigeria,
- Issues arising from the Covid-19 pandemic including, the evacuation of Nigerians stranded overseas, the need for palliatives and stimulus packages, need for electricity tariff reprieve during the extended lockdown, the need for more isolation centres and increased public health awareness, and many more,
- The casualization of labour by local and international companies,
- Maltreatment and racial discrimination of Nigerians in China,
- The need for better laws and stiffer penalties for rape and violence against women.
The House has received a total of 151 petitions all of which were referred to the Committee on Public Petitions for consideration.
PUBLIC PARTNERSHIP AND TRANSPARENCY
A key part of our agenda is to reduce the opaqueness of the legislature to ensure that Nigerians are stakeholders and partners in progress. In furtherance of this, the House, through the Committee on Media and Public Affairs, on February 19, 2020, launched the Green Chamber Magazine, a publication which has allowed Nigerians first-hand access to the activities of the House.
The past year has not been without its fair share of challenges as we recall with sadness, the passing of our colleagues, Rep. Fagen Gawo and Rep. Jafaru Iliyasu Auna, of blessed memory.
We acknowledge the challenge of slow implementation of House resolutions by the executive and expect that the executive will do better in honouring the resolutions of the House as they reflect the voice of the entire Nigeria.
The House also contended with several instances of misinformation which attempted to pitch the public against the legislature. We acknowledge the need for constant public engagement to help in the demystification of the functions of the legislature and invariably cure the opaqueness around our activities. We acknowledge the efforts of the Committee on Media and Public Affairs in this regard.
We recall the public outcry regarding the Control of Infectious Diseases Bill, introduced to the House in response to the gaps observed in our Quarantine Act. Fortunately, this outcry, though premature, allowed us the opportunity to reassure Nigerians of our commitment to continuous public engagement in our activities as the bill is currently undergoing public hearing with the extensive participation of relevant stakeholders.
We further recall the public reaction against the House regarding the high cost of ₦37bn budgeted for the renovation of the National Assembly Complex. While this feedback was misdirected, as the project falls under the auspices of the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA), it is instructive to state that the cost has been reduced to ₦9bn in the revised 2020 budget, thanks to the engagement of the Nigerian public.
OUR REVIEWED LEGISLATIVE AGENDA
The world as we know it has changed. The covid-19 pandemic has challenged our previous assumptions and revealed the weaknesses in our systems, necessitating the urgency of a re-strategized approach to fulfilling the commitments of our erstwhile legislative agenda. As a result of this, the House under the wisdom and leadership of the Speaker, has today, launched a revised legislative agenda identifying 10 key policy areas; Healthcare Delivery; Education; Economy; Security; Agriculture & Food Security; Sustainable Power; Environment and Climate Change; Human Capital Development and Social Investment; Governance; and The Parliament.
With legislative interventions separated into immediate, intermediate, and long-term action, the new agenda represents our renewed contract with the Nigerian people. We hope that we can count on the support of Nigerians as we navigate the next three years of our assembly. As the people’s parliament, we will continue to seek out informed engagement and constructive partnership as we work to implement the policy objectives we have set out in the new legislative agenda.
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