The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan has urged the Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El Rufai to prevail on his colleagues to persuade their respective state Houses of Assembly to transmit to the National Assembly their responses on the Bills sent to them on the Constitution amendment.
The National Assembly in March passed 44 Bills to amend some key provisions of the 1999 constitution and transmitted same to the 36 states for their endorsement or otherwise as part of the constitutional amendment process.
The process requires the endorsement of not less than two-third of the 36 state Houses of Assembly for any of the Bills to sail through but far less than half of the 36 states were believed to have have so far transmitted their responses back to the National Assembly.
However despite earmarking N1 billion, which was approved for the constitutional amendment process, the bid by the ninth Assembly to effect a fifth alteration to the 1999 Constitution has hit the rock, after only 11 of Nigeria’s 36 state legislatures considered and voted on the 44 amendment bills passed by the National Assembly earlier this year.
The states whose Houses of Assembly have voted on the bills were Abia, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Delta, Edo, Kaduna, Katsina, Kogi, Lagos, Ogun and Osun.
This comes about six months after the bills were passed and transmitted to the states for their legislative votes. Twenty-five other states failed to consider the bills.
The states had threatened to take no action on the bills unless four more constitutional amendment bills were considered and passed by the National Assembly. The four bills are the Establishment of state police, and the state judicial council, which streamline the procedure for removing presiding officers of state Houses of Assembly and institutionalise legislative bureaucracy in the Constitution.
These demands were contained in a letter from the Conference of Speakers to the National Assembly Joint Committee on Constitutional Review.
The Senate President spoke while declaring open the Distinguished Parliamentarians Lecture 2022 which was organised by the National Institute of Legislative and Democratic Studies(NILDS).
The lecture was delivered by the Speaker of House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila.
Lawan told Governor El Rufai who chaired the occasion: “We will task you to lobby for us. We have sent(to the states) the outcome of our constitution review and we are yet to receive all from the states.
“So we should be able to wind up this process by getting responses from the state Houses of Assembly. Even if it is one month left, we have the capacity working together to ensure that we pass some of the legislations that are required in a very expeditious manner.
“Lobby your Governor colleagues because I can see that you do that very well.”
Lawan said the lecture was one of the laudable initiatives of NILDS geared towards bridging the gap between the electorates and their elected representatives.
“It is also an avenue for we the parliament to tell our stories to the wider audience, so as to change the misperception and misinformation in the public domain.
“No doubt, the legislature which is the fulcrum of Democracy worldwide has been misunderstood, some for mischievous purpose and at times as owing to its underdeveloped stature historically.
“It is in lieu of this that the First Parliamentarians lecture which I delivered last year gave a lucid narration of such misplaced perception of the 9th Assembly under my leadership.
“Today’s 2nd series of the Distinguished Parliamentarians Lecture attempt a critical assessment of the House of Representatives within the context of its agenda, this is because the importance of the House of Representatives in the annals of Nigeria’s political and legal evolution cannot be overemphasized.
“The House of Representatives is that vigilant younger brother who ensures that its swaggering elder brother, the Senate, stays on course.
“The role of the House of Representatives is even more critical when analysed viz-a-viz the executive branch of government. Since Nigeria’s cherished return to democratic rule in 1999, the House of Representatives, alongside the Senate, has steered the wheels of public policy, public discourse, rulemaking, and checks and balances.
“Tellingly, the 9th National Assembly (including the 9th House of Representatives) has passed some of the most ground-breaking and significant legislations in the history of parliamentarianism in Sub-Saharan Africa.
“To mention but a few, the Companies and Allied Matters Act, which was passed in 2020, has revolutionized Nigeria’s corporate world and fostered the ‘ease of doing business’ agenda of the federal government of Nigeria.
“The Petroleum Industry Act, which was passed in 2021, is a watershed enactment that clearly stipulates new principles, new regulatory regimes, and new governance frameworks for the realization of the full promise of Nigeria’s hydrocarbons potential.”