JONAS EZIEKE and EUCLID MYKE, Abuja
The House of Representatives has scored itself high in the 8th Assembly, saying that they have raised the bars beyond the previous Assembly as it passed 126 Bills, 27 signed by the President and also received about 500 petitions two years into the 8th Assembly.
The House equally stated that a lot of innovations were introduced by the 8th Assembly including the signing of budget appropriations by each member of the committee, a public hearing on the budgetary process and details of the Appropriation Act made available to the public.
This was disclosed by the speaker, Hon. Yakubu Dogara during the commemoration of the second anniversary of the 8th National Assembly.
The speaker emphasized that the maim legislative agenda of the 8th assembly is to take the country out of recession, saying that several bills and motions have been passed to that effect, including the Ease of Doing Business Bill.
According to Dogara, “The total number of Bills introduced so far are 1064 out of which Executive Bills are 50, Senate Bills transmitted to the House – 21 and Private Members Bills – 993. A total of 126 Bills have been passed by the House and the others are at various stages in the legislative mill. 27 Bills have received Presidential assent and a lot more are in the pipeline.
“Each of the achievements highlighted above is unsurpassed by any previous Assembly. The sheer volume of these Bills attests to the vibrancy of the House in its attempt to legislate on key areas of our national life at a very trying time in our history.
“Public Petitions received in the last two years are over 500 in number and the Committee on Public Petitions conducts Public Hearings on these petitions almost every week to ensure citizen access to the legislature.
The Speaker stated that self assessment will always be misinterpreted by the public, maintaining that the electorate are at liberty to assess the achievements of the 8th legislature as against the previous legislature, but was quick to add that the 8th Assembly was packed full with legislative activities and that there is still room for improvement, while time line will be put in place to ensure that each committee works with time so that an Ad-hoc committee will not stretch to a standing committee.
“We have remained a bastion of legislative activism. Indeed members of the 8th House of Representatives are in keen competition with one another in fashioning out legislative solutions to myriad of problems facing the nation. That is why in all facets of law-making, we can comfortably and conveniently assert that we have broken all records.
“We have done reasonably well in most of the indices indicated. But there is a very large room to do even more”.
He said that the degree of efforts put into the 2017 Budget was to ensure that Nigerians receive the best implementable budget which will signed by the executive next week.
“On issue of Budget, we kept our promise to Nigerians at the beginning of the legislative session to ensure transparent deliberation and passage of the 2017 Appropriations Bill which will be signed into law early next week. We have also carried out significant Budget Reforms.
“For the first time in the history of Nigeria, a Public Hearing was conducted in the National Assembly to get the input of Nigerians in the budgetary process. Further reforms introduced include the details of the Appropriation Act being available to all members before passage in plenary; the requirement that members of each Committee should sign the Report of their Committees before being sent to the Committee on Appropriations.
“All these novel measures are unprecedented in the history of our Parliament. These proactive measures ensured that the House’s debate and consideration of the 2017 budget proposal presented by the President was evidence based and geared towards galvanizing the economy for greater growth” Dogara stated.
The speaker said that the house will continue to support any activities, Bills or motions that will contribute in ending poverty, unemployment and stimulate the economy.
“The House has considered and passed several Bills designed to stimulate economic growth and promote competition. These include: The Bill for an Act establishing Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, etc. This legislation has the potential to engender innovation and efficient allocation of resources, eliminate barriers to entry and restrictive trade practices in our market. Several Bills and Resolutions aimed at improving ease of doing business in Nigeria have been passed and more are in the works.
Realising that underemployment is as grave a problem as unemployment, we in the House have introduced a Bill on new minimum wage Bill to promote the welfare and well-being of Nigerian Workers especially in light of changing economic realities. For us it is unacceptable that the average Nigerian worker is shut out from the promise of democracy, which is: “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. Our democracy must be made to work for all Nigerians including our workers who must have the tools with which to pursue happiness while in active service or in retirement.
The pledged that the house will always support the executive on the war against corruption which has eaten deep into the fabrics of the system.
“One other challenge that the country has had to grapple with is corruption. Our legislative response has been by way of legislation and Resolutions. Many Bills in this respect have been passed, and many are still in the mill. Some motions have led to the series of investigative Hearings that are ongoing. Besides we have injected oversight emphasis in that direction.
“This 8th House of Representatives introduced Sectoral Debates. The idea is to get Ministers to share their vision and how they intend to achieve them so that Parliament can hold them accountable to goals they themselves have set. The first phase of the debate on diversification of the Nigerian economy has been concluded. The other phases are scheduled in the next Session.
He thanked his colleagues for the peaceful cohesion which the 8th Assembly has enjoyed, and challenged all to sustain it.
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