From Nasiru Shuaibu Marmara, Abuja
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, has said that it was doubtful that the current constitutional amendment effort would be concluded before the expiration of the Ninth Assembly.
He stated this at the ‘2022 Parliamentarians Lecture,’ organised by the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS) held in Abuja.
The lecture has as its theme: ‘Delivering on Our Contract with Nigeria: Implementing the Legislative Agenda of the 9th House of Representatives-Progress, Challenges and Way Forward.’
Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State was the chairman of the event.
The tenure of the current 9th session of the legislature would end in early June next year.
The National Assembly had on 18 October, alleged that state governors were using state assemblies to stall the process of amending the constitution alterations carried out by the members of the federal legislature.
Mr. Gbajabiamila, who presented a paper, said the National Assembly had passed a raft of amendments to the constitution and advanced them to the states as required.
“That process seems to have stalled in the states assembly.
“As it is today, it is doubtful that the current constitutional amendment effort will conclude before the expiration of this legislative term.
“In spite of broad national agreement on the need for reform, the potential for achievement can rise or fall based on differences in expectations of the context, pace and direction of the specific proposals,” he said.
On the achievements of the House of Representatives, Mr. Gbajabiamila said it had passed landmark legislation to fix the oil and gas industry.
He said: “We have considered and passed meaningful legislation including the Police Service Commission (Repeal and Re-enactment) Bill and the Electric Power Sector Reform Act (Amendment) Bill.”
Also speaking, the Senate President, Alhaji Ahmad Lawan, called on Malam El-Rufai to lobby other governors to ensure the completion of the ongoing constitution review process.
“We will task you (governor) to lobby for us.
“We have seen the outcome of our constitution review and we are yet to receive all from the states to enable us to round off this process by getting responses from the state houses of assembly.
“And some of these issues that you have raised that require our attention of course they will be given attention.
“But I think it is important that we deal with whatever we have already sent out to the houses of assembly.
“And then we take the next step and even if it is one step that we have left, we have the capacity working together to ensure we pass some of the legislations that are required in a very expeditious manner.
“So help us lobby; because I can see you do that very well. Lobby your colleagues, governor,” Alhaji Lawan said.
He further said the event was one of the laudable initiatives of NILDS geared towards bridging the gap between the electorate 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,” he said.
On his part, Malam El-Rufai said the National Assembly and indeed the legislature are a very key and often decapitated branch of government.
He said that such lectures were important to building the institutional strength and capacity of the National Assembly.
“The role and the relationship between the three branches of government should be governed by collaboration, coordination and interdependence,” he said.
This, he said, was because none can function effectively in the public interest without the understanding and support of others.
The governor commended the members of the National Assembly on the passage of “so many important bills,” including the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) and the Company and Allied Matters Act (CAMA).
He, however, tasked the federal legislators that as they round off their remarkable and commendable four years, they should put on more efforts into state and community policing.
“We are aware that the current policing system is old and doesn’t work for Nigeria
“Nigeria is the only federation in the world with one centralised police system.
“This National Assembly has the capacity to enact state and community policing system that prevents the abuses of the past, and takes into account, the challenges of the present,” said he.
Earlier, the Director-General NILDS, Alhaji Abubakar Sulaiman, said the event clearly attested to the robust nature of Executive/Legislative complimentarily that was brought to bear on democratic practices in Africa where Nigeria was taking the lead.
He said: “If the symbiotic relationship between this very important arm of government, such as being witnessed here is strengthened, it portends a leeway for democracy and impactful good governance to thrive.
“This however, does not preclude the two arms having to occasionally diverge even seriously on issues that have direct bearing on the lives of constituents.”