OUR legislators have their ways with matters Nigerians consider weighty. Since we are not legislators, rigours that resulted in the passage of 46 bills in 10 minutes, a record unlikely to be contested elsewhere, could be lost on us.
The record is more than what bewildered us. Senator Ita Enang, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Rules and Business, the important committee that decides which bills qualify for the Senate’s
attention, said on television that the Senate passed more bills in 10 minutes than the 46 the public know. The bills took a bow, a practice the Senate uses when it does not want to scrutinise candidates who appear before it.
According to Enang, the Senate could adopt any rules for its works. Why the haste in passing 46 bills in less time than it takes the Senate to introduce the day’s business? How did the Senate spend the past four years that it ran out of time for its major role of legislating? What are the implications of the Senate making laws its members did not know the content?
Enang re-stated the great works Senators do. They receive delegations, hold committee meetings, attend caucus engagements that in the middle of the night make decisions that rule the days, and more importantly, they oversee functions of government agencies, departments and parastatals.
If it was possible to hasten oversight functions, we would have seen the legislators prancing all over the place, of course, on television, to impress it on Nigerians that billions of Naira spent on the
National Assembly annually, was not as monumental a waste as many are wont to think. Oversight functions, to the legislators, mean overlooking issues that affect how government agencies work. The quantum of complaints about the inefficiency of the agencies, and the little efforts made to improve them, are the best testimonies to the efficacies of legislative oversight functions.
The action of the Senate, which had concurrence in the House of Representatives, is capable of creating a constitutional crisis, if anyone takes the National Assembly seriously. On the other hand, it could be a futile activity; hence, the minimal investment of 10 minutes in it.
Under our laws, bills the National Assembly passes are sent to the President who should assent within 30 days, if not, the National Assembly vetoes the bills into law by passing them again.With the life of the 7th National Assembly over, is it the 8th National Assembly that would engage the President on the bills? The futility of the exercise is obvious, that the National Assembly could embark on it is the final mark of our legislators’ ceaseless proclivities to embarrass democracy.