Why Nigeria Should Maintain Bicameral Legislature – Lawan

(L-R) Clerk of the National Assembly, Mohammed Sani-Omolori; former Senate President, Ken Nnamani; Senate President, Ahmed Lawan; Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Idris Wase, and Leader of the House of Representatives, Alhassan Doguwa, at the third University of Benin/National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS) convocation ceremony held at the National Assembly in Abuja on October 28, 2019.

 

 

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has made a case for Nigeria to maintain a bicameral legislature consisting of the Senate and House of Representatives as presently constituted.

According to him, the adoption of a bicameral legislature is intended to address the country’s diversity and ethnic composition to ensure justice, equity and fairness for all Nigerians irrespective of their background.

Senator Lawan stated this at the third University of Benin/National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS) convocation ceremony which held on Monday at the National Assembly in Abuja.

He noted that having a unicameral legislature may create problems of non-representation and exclusion from governance for minority ethnic groups in the country, as well as inefficient representation for groups in the majority.

“Nigeria has consciously adopted to have a bicameral National Assembly; it is because of who and what we are,” the Senate President was quoted as saying in a statement by his Special Assistant on Press, Ezrel Tabiowo.

He added, “The diversity of Nigeria and ethnic composition of the country requires that we have a system that provides justice, equity and fair play.

“It is a conscious decision and design to ensure that everybody is represented in the country. We need bicameral legislature in Nigeria.”

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Back To School

    The lawmaker explained that the quality of governance in Nigeria can only be improved by ensuring productivity on the part of lawmakers as against demanding for a unicameral legislature.

He said, “What we should insist on is productivity. Members of the National Assembly must justify the expenditure on us. That is what we should be concerned with.

“We must be productive and we are on the way. We are on the way to proving that we are going to be productive.

Senator Lawan recalled that only last week, the Senate passed an amendment to the Production Sharing Contracts Act of 1993, a development which would earn Nigeria $1.7 billion annually.

According to him, this is part of efforts by the National Assembly to shore-up the nation’s revenue and improve its economy in the overall interest of the people.

The Senate President, however, hoped that the House of Representatives would concur to the bill when it resumes plenary after which it would be forwarded to the President for assent.

“Nigeria from next year alone will get $1.7 billion – that is to say we are conscious of who we are representing. We will represent Nigeria truthfully and patriotically.

“All hands must be on deck to ensure that we take 10 million Nigerians out of poverty within the next 10 years. This requires that we work with the same passion and commitment,” Lawan said.

The Senate President also challenged the Federal Government to take the lead in returning about 14 million out-of-school-children back to school.

According to him, the National Assembly would complement the effort of the executive arm of government in this direction by ensuring the amendment of the Universal Basic Education (UBEC) Act.

 

Budget Passage

On oversight by the National Assembly, the lawmaker said, “This time in the 9th Senate, our oversight process and system will change. We want to have a situation where reports will be presented in plenary.

“We want to do our work as assiduously and patriotically as possible. That is not to say that we will have unnecessary confrontation and rancour with the executive arm of government.”

He added, “Our target for tomorrow, October 29, as the last day for budget defence remains. We hope that from this week, October 30 to November 5; we expect all our sub-committees of the appropriations committee to defend their budgets before the appropriation committees of the Senate and the House.

“We are desirous and determined to ensure that the budget is laid on the 28th of November this year. We want to ensure that we pass the budget before the end of this year by December when we will go for Christmas break.”

Lawan, while speaking about budget implementation, said the National Assembly through its oversight function would beam its searchlight on revenue-generating agencies that annually fail to remit revenues to the federation account.

According to him, the non-remittance of revenues by agencies has severally left the Federal Government to explore the alternative of borrowing to fund part of the budget.

Lawan Meets Osinbajo, Promises Seamless Relationship Between Executive, Legislature

 

Senate President Ahmed Lawan has assured Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, that there would be a seamless relationship between the Legislative and Executive arms of government.

He also allayed fears over assumptions that that the National Assembly would constantly dance to the tune of the executive.

Lawan gave the assurance after a meeting with Osinbajo at the State House in Abuja.

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According to him, the meeting was an opportunity to thank the Vice President for his role in the emergence of the leadership of the National Assembly, as well discuss better ways of collaboration between both arms of government.

Buhari Inaugurates Committee For Autonomy Of State Judiciary, Legislature

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has inaugurated the Presidential Implementation Committee on Autonomy of the State Legislature and State Judiciary in accordance with the 4th alteration on the 1999 Constitution.

During the ceremony at the council chamber of the Aso Villa, the president charged members to be diligent in discharging their duties.

He believes autonomy of the state legislature and judiciary is a necessary precondition for Nigeria’s democracy to endure.

The 16-member committee is headed by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, while the president’s National Assembly liaison, Ita Enang, is to serve as secretary.

The implementation committee has three months from the day of the inauguration to complete its assignment.

AGF Chairs Presidential Committee On Autonomy Of State Legislature, Judiciary

AGF Chairs Presidential Committee On Autonomy Of State Legislature, Judiciary
(File) Minister of Justice and the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has constituted a Presidential Implementation Committee on Autonomy of State Legislature and State Judiciary.

Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, explained in a statement on Sunday that the committee was set up in accordance with the ‘4th Alteration to the 1999 Constitution’.

The committee is chaired by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, with the Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senator Ita Enang, as its secretary.

Adesina said the purpose of the committee was to drive the actualisation of the autonomy granted to the legislature and judiciary at the state level.

Representatives of state judiciary in the committee include the chief judges of Kogi and Bayelsa states – Justice N Ajanah and Justice K Abiri.

Others are Grand Khadi of Gombe State Sharia Court of Appeal, Kadi Abdullahi Usman, and the acting President of the FCT Customary Court of Appeal, Justice Abbazih Sadeeq.

State legislatures are to be represented by the Chairman of Conference of Speakers of State Legislatures of Nigeria and Speaker of Lagos State House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa, as well as Speaker of Taraba State House of Assembly, Abel Riah.

The Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) is to be represented by Marwan Adamu; Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria, Bala Hadi; Body of Chairmen of Houses of Assembly Service Commissions, Musa Agwai.

The committee also has as members Senate Committee Chairman on Judiciary, Human Rights, and Legal Matters, Senator David Umaru; and House of Representatives Committee Chairman on Federal Judiciary, Aminu Shagari; as well as the Accountant General of the Federation, and the Secretary of the National Judicial Council (NJC).

Others members are DG of the Nigerian Governors Forum or such other representative as the forum may wish to nominate; Chairman of the Forum of Finance Commissioners in Nigeria; President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Paul Usoro; and Chike Adibuah who is to represent Civil Society Organisations.

Adesina disclosed that the terms of reference of the committee include to assess and review the level of compliance by all the 36 States of the Federation with Section 121(3) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

He added that the committee would monitor, ensure and cause the implementation of financial autonomy across the judiciary and legislature of the 36 states, as well as consult and relate with the appropriate federal and state MDAs.

The presidential aide explained that the committee would ensure and where necessary enforce the implementation of the constitutional provision, and come up with appropriate modality or model to be adopted by all the states of the Federation for implementation and/ or compliance with Section 121(3) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

He said President Buhari would formally inaugurate the committee in due course.

No Legislative House Has The Power To Suspend A Member – Femi Falana

falanaA Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Femi Falana, has stated that no legislative House has the power to suspend a member even for a single day.

He made the comment while addressing the Senate’s recent suspension of one of its members, Senator Ali Ndume, for allegedly bringing the House to disrepute, as well as the investigation and summoning of some of its members.

The Senate spokesman was quoted to have said that although the 1999 constitution does not exactly state that the Senate has the power to suspend a member, they have the power to do so based on the internal House rules.

In reaction to this, the senior lawyer stated that: “The Senate labours under the very erroneous impression that it can do anything, whether allowed by law or not; particularly when it purports to exercising its oversight functions.

“Allegations of crime, certificate forgery, allegations regarding under-payment of Customs duties, are criminal offences that can only be investigated by the appropriate authorities such as the Police.”

According to him, “Section 88, which the Senate always relies on, begins with the phrase: “subject to the provisions of this constitution”, which means the powers of the Police, the powers of the Auditor General of the Federation, the powers of the Attorney General of the Federation, the powers of the President, take presidence over the powers of the Senate to carry out an investigation.

“The Senate with profound respect, the House of Representatives with Profound respect, cannot investigate allegations of crime. That is within the constitutional province of the Police.

“In matters regarding some of the distinguished Senators, the court has made definitive judicial pronouncements. Take for instance, no legislative House in Nigeria, can suspend a member for one single day and we have a plethora of authorities on this,” he stressed.

Recalling a similar situation that occurred in 2010, Mr Falana said: “As a member of the House of Representatives, Senator Dino Melaye and 10 others, out of frustration, submitted a petition to the EFCC, alleging criminal diversion of funds by the Dimeji Bankole-led leadership of the House.”

According to him, the Senators had claimed that the House had been terrorized and scandalized and despite the advice given by lawyers to allow the law take its course, as a petition had been sent to the appropriate agency of government, they still refused to take their hands off the case.

“Dino Melaye and 10 others were suspended indefinitely. I went to court for them and the court said: “Under your own rules, you cannot suspend a member for more than 14 days – Under what law did you suspend these 11 members of the House of Representatives for an indefinitely period of time?”

Mr Falana said subsequently, the court ordered an immediate reversal as well as the reinstatement of the senators.

He gave another instance involving the indefinite suspension of a member of the Bauchi House in 2012.

According to him, she was the only female and Christian in the House, consisting of 31 members and her suspension came as a result of a contribution she made, which the men considered as an ‘infra dignitatem’.

The case was however raised in court after a letter written to the House was ignored and the law was properly examined by the High Court as well as the Court of Appeal.

“Relevant constitutional provisions were now determined by the Court of Appeal and the Court of Appeal ruled that no legislative House has the power to suspend a member even for a single day,” he stated.

His colleague, Mike Ozekhome, however believes that the Senate has the right to summon anyone at anytime, regardless of their position.

Senate Accuses Executive Of Attempts To Silence Legislature

Senate, Legislature, Aliyu Abdullahi,
Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Abdullahi

The Senate is alleging that there is an attempt by the executive arm of government to muzzle the legislature and criminalize legislative processes in order to cause leadership change in the National Assembly.

A statement issued by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Abdullahi, alleges that this is being done by the executive to cause leadership change in the National Assembly and in the process bring about a return to the era of impunity and lack of respect for due process.

While appealing to President Muhammadu Buhari to call the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, to order, the statement says that Nigerians have had enough economic hardship at this time requiring the full attention and cooperation of the three arms of government, instead of these attempts to distract and politicize governance.

“It is clear that the Attorney General and party leaders behind this action either lack the understanding of the underlining principles of constitutional democracy, the concept of separation of powers, checks and balances and parliamentary convention or they just simply do not care if the present democracy in the country survives or collapses in their blinded determination to get Saraki and Ekweremadu by all means necessary, including abuse of office and sacking the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“We are in a state of economic emergency such that what the National Assembly needs at this time are executive bills and proposals aimed at resolving the crises of unemployment, currency depreciation, inflation, crime and insecurity.

“What the National Assembly needs now are executive bills to build and strengthen institutions to earn revenues, fight corruption and eliminate waste.

“Instead, we are getting hostile actions aimed at destabilizing the National Assembly, distracting senators from their oversight functions and ensuring good and accountable governance.”

Senator Abdullahi said that if the legislative branch falls, democracy fails as there will be no other institution empowered by the constitution to check and balance the enormous powers of the executive branch.

Political Parties Urged To Allow Independence Of Legislature

National Assembly in NigeriaA former Senate President in Nigeria, Senator Ken Nnamani, has advised political parties to learn from history and allow for the independence of the legislature.

Addressing a gathering in Abuja on Monday, Senator Nnamani said the National Assembly was grappling with the crisis of the supremacy of the party versus an established arm of government.

The former Senate President cautioned that the independence of the legislature should not be sacrificed on the altar of party supremacy.

Ever since the Eight Assembly was inaugurated on June 9, it has been plagued by one crisis after the other, all of it centred on the choice of the leadership of both chambers.

The emergence of the principal officers of the Senate and House of Representatives was the tipping point in the drama at the National Assembly.

The ruling party, the All Progressives Congress, in an attempt to enforce party’s supremacy, went on a collision course with some lawmakers in both chambers.

A former lawmaker, Senator Ita Enang and some other former federal lawmakers at the event set a legislative agenda for the National Assembly and also identified critical areas, which the parliament must focus on.

Senator Enang stressed the need for lawmakers to learn to balance party interests with their legislative duties.

But in spite of the bickering over leadership positions in the National Assembly, Nigerians expect the federal lawmakers to perform the duties for which they were elected.

The Senate and the House of Representatives have set up ad-hoc committees to put together a legislative agenda for the Eight Assembly.

These committees are expected to initiate a legislative agenda, which would guide the National Assembly on the areas of specific national legislation, which it would focus on the next four years.

Abia Assembly Inauguration Still Delayed

abia assemblyThe inauguration of the Abia State House of Assembly is still being delayed days after it was suspended by the Clerk of the House, Don Pedro Irokansi, who cited some portion of the constitution as the reason behind the decision.

A visit to the premises of Abia State House of Assembly showed an empty chamber and quiet atmosphere with no legislative activities going on.

Hon Irokansi said that there were only 23 members out of the 24 elected members that had received their Certificates of Return and that the House could not be inaugurated without the member from the Isiala Ngwa South State Constituency receiving his Certificate.

According to an Umuahia based lawyer, Barrister Nnamdi Eluwa, the portion of constitution referred to by the clerk of the House does not constitute inauguration proceeding.

He stressed that the clerk had no jurisdiction to make such a pronouncement.

However, the Attorney-General of the State, Mr Umeh Kalu, differs from this opinion saying there is the need for the three arms of the government to function effectively.

Meanwhile, the Abia State All Progressive Grand Alliance has frowned at the suspension of the inauguration, with the Chairman, Augustine Ehiemere, insisting that the decision is unconstitutional and an act of illegality.

Amosun Inaugurates 8th Ogun State House Of Assembly

amosunThe Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun, has inaugurated the 8th legislature of the State House of Assembly, urging the lawmakers not to betray the confidence reposed in them in the discharge of their constitutional responsibilities.

At a ceremony held at the State House of Assembly on Monday, Mr Suraj Adekunbi from Yewa-north Local Government Area was re-elected Speaker while Mr Olakunle Oluomo from Ifo Constituency 1 emerged the Deputy Speaker.

Other principal officers of the house were also elected.

The 26-members Assembly has 19 All Progressives Congress (APC) and nine Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members.

The Speaker, Suraj Adekunbi, administered the oath of office and allegiance on other members of the House.

After the oath taking process, the Speaker promised the unwavering commitment of the House to the overall development of Ogun State.

Governor Amosun, while calling for synergy among all Arms of Government, however, urged the newly inaugurated Assembly members to effectively discharge their duties.

4 Bayelsa Legislators’ Seats Declared Vacant After Defection To APC

RiversThe Speaker of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly, Hon Kombowei Benson, has declared the seats of four members, who defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC), vacant.

The decision was taken by the speaker on Friday, after the four lawmakers declared their decision to join the APC.

After the declaration by the speaker, the State’s Governor, Honourable Henry Seriake Dickson, described the decision as a step in the right direction.

In a statement, the Governor said the action of the State Legislature was not only constitutional, but will also instil party discipline and sanitise the polity.

Governor Dickson condemned the practice of Carpet-Crossing at will by politicians, without recourse to the parties under which they were elected into positions.  He stressed that it was no longer acceptable under a thriving democracy.

According to him, the State Assembly’s decision would set the pace and show the direction of the new PDP in the State.

“Party discipline and loyalty, must be the overriding principles and factors for all members,” he said.

The Bayelsa State Governor also noted that indiscipline, disloyalty and greed had been the bane of the PDP at State and National levels in the past, warning that such acts would no longer be tolerated for whatever reason in the party.

 

Buhari To Revisit NNPC’s ‘Missing’ 20bln Dollars

20billionNigeria’s President-elect, General Muhammadu Buhari, says that his administration would revisit the allegation made by the former CBN Governor, Sanusi Lamido, that about 20billion dollars oil revenue was not remitted into the federation account.

Retired General Buhari stated this while receiving delegates from Adamawa State.

The President-elect, who spoke in Hausa language at the meeting, said that 20billion dollars is too huge a sum to ignore and must be investigated.

Retired General Buhari also said that the All Progressives Congress, APC, has drawn up a road map to address the issues of insecurity, youth unemployment and corruption in the country.

Sanusi had told the Senate Committee probing the allegation of unremitted funds, that the NNPC shipped 67billion dollars in crude and only 47 billion dollars had come back to the Federation.

The then CBN Governor insisted that the NNPC had to proof where the 20billion dollars was.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, at the time dismissed the allegation, calling it baseless.

A forensic audit was also conducted by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) on the alleged missing 20billion dollars, the report of which the Group Managing Director of the NNPC said did not indict the corporation in anyway.

Panel To Investigate Ondo Deputy Governor Begins Sitting

deputy governor

The seven-man panel of investigation set up by the Chief Judge of Ondo State, Justice Olasehinde Kumuyi, to look into the seven allegations leveled against the State Deputy Governor, Mr Ali Olanusi, has started sitting.

The ‎Ondo State House of Assembly had earlier directed the State Chief Judge to set up the panel. This is following the impeachment notice served on the Deputy Governor by the House.

While the Counsel of the defendant, the Deputy Governor insisted that his client was not served the notice and could not go on with the proceedings, the Counsel of the House of Assembly, Dayo Akinlaja, claimed that the Deputy Governor was only trying to shy away from the allegations leveled against him.

The Chairman of the panel, in his inauguration speech, Magistrate Olatunji Adeniyan (Rtd) promised that the panel would do its assignment with all fairness to the best of its ability.

The Counsel of the Deputy Governor, Benson Enikuomeh, told reporters that he was appearing at the panel in protest, as his client had not been served any notice to appear before the panel.

He, therefore, backs out of the proceedings, insisting that the panel cannot continue sitting, as he has not been briefed by his counsel on the issues leveled against him by the State Legislature.

On his part, the Counsel to the ‎House of Assembly, Dayo Akinlaja, insisted that the Deputy Governor could not claim not to have been served the notice as he is within the country.