By Bamikole Omishore
The 8th Senate under the leadership of the Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, stands on the precipice of attaining positive legislative change. As the whole country aligns itself with the agenda party at the center, the All Progressives Congress (APC), the National Assembly has gradually but surely worked towards setting new legislative precedents for Nigeria.
This piece, written against the backdrop of the near-actualization of some of the legislative standards that the 8th Senate is setting, focuses on the legislative agenda of Nigeria’s upper chamber.
The legislature is the lubricant that oils the wheel of every democratic government. As the most representative of the three arms of government, the legislature deals with the enactment and review of laws, formation of policy, and oversight of the activities of the other arms of government. These crucial roles make the legislature unarguably the arm of government that directly contributes to the successes, or leads to the failures of democratic governments. No nation can succeed without an upright and independent legislature that is aggressive at providing the country with efficient legislations as at when needed.
In this regard, as a way to ensure that Nigeria is equipped with appropriate and meaningful statutes, the Chairman of National Assembly, Dr. Saraki, has indicated that a number of bills that are currently in the legislative pipeline will provide the much-needed reform to jumpstart the Nigerian economy, and strengthen many of Nigeria’s institutions. In a series of tweets on his Twitter handle, Dr. Bukola Saraki recently highlighted that some of the bills in question, augment many of our preexisting laws as they address certain areas of government where immediate action and legislative intervention are needed.
These are a set of proposed bills before the 8th Senate to fast-track the necessary positive ‘Change’ of the Buhari administration. These bills, when passed, would undoubtedly transform the nation’s security agencies, overhaul aspects of the judiciary, enhance the anti-corruption crusade, diversify the economy through viable alternative means, and effectively tackle our transportation and taxation problems. These bills have the potential to curb poverty, and reduce unemployment by creating a business-friendly environment for investors and small medium enterprises.
Some of the bills include:The Police Reform Bill; the Justice Reform Bill; the Criminal Procedure Law Amendment Bill and the Whistleblower Protection Bill. Others are the Budget Reform Bill; the Ecological Funds Utilization and Management Bill; the Excess Crude Account Management Bill, that sets guidelines for the management of surplus crude resources; and the National Assembly Budget & Research Office Bill, which seeks to establish standing departments within the National Assembly that provide year round “policy and legal analysis to committees and Members of both the House and Senate, regardless of party affiliation.”
Additionally, as Nigeria currently loses billions of dollars because of the non-passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) in previous legislative sessions, the National Assembly is working on the institutional restructuring of the NNPC as a substitute for the PIB.
With e-Commerce fast becoming a major medium for transacting business in Nigeria, the Senate is also looking into the future to ensure that adequate regulations govern the e-commerce space, and protect the rights of businesses and consumers.
A few days after the Senate resumed from the holiday, the Senate President called for the need for Nigeria to diversify its economy. In line with this, the Senate has several bills aimed at providing frameworks for internal economic development for the nation. Several of these include: the Market Competition Bill; the Credit Bureau and Referencing Bill; the Agricultural Credit and Loan Scheme Bill; the Tax and Revenue Bill; and the National Poverty Eradication Commission (Establishment) Bill.
Other bills aimed at improving our transport networks and maintenance culture include the Private Sector Infrastructure Investment Protection and Regulation Bill; the Road Sector Reform Bill; the Railway Sector Reform Bill; and the Ports and Habour Reforms Bill.
Without any illusion, the above bills represent a new template set by the 8th Senate for a new and more-prosperous Nigeria. A set of legislation that would reform the legal framework for business in the country, stimulate employment, improve national productivity and encourage the private sector to participate in the reformation of the country.
The bill to evaluate government performance is another credible legislation that is highly needed. According to Dr. Bukola Saraki: “The National Assembly, for the first time, is establishing a framework for agencies of government to set goals, measure performance and submit related plans and reports to the National Assembly for its potential use.”
The bills are all geared towards increasing the integrity of governance, expand performance rate and make government more open and accountable. Also in its context is the proposal to reform the security and judicial systems.
Truly, “the National Poverty Eradication Commission Bill is an interesting intervention by the legislature in seeking to strengthen the policy by the executive arm on the welfare of Nigerians and the eradication of extreme poverty.”
Moreover, with the Senate President’s recent strides to amend the procurement act to ensure that Nigerian businesses get ‘first dibs’ over their foreign counterparts in the procurement process for agencies and departments of the federal government, Nigerian businesses are being positioned to drive the economic shift of the nation.
Hence, as the Senate works to bring many of these pieces of legislation into fruition, Nigerians must join hands with Senate and also charge all other arms of government to ensure that once they are passed by both houses of the National Assembly, these bills are signed into law, and implemented in order to move our dear country Nigeria forward.
Full list of the 30 Bills.
1. Police Reform Bill
2. Justice Reform Bill
3. Criminal Procedure Law Amendment Bill
4. Whistle-blower Protection Bill
5. Budget Reform Bill
6. Ecological Funds Utilization and Management Bill
7. Excess Crude Account Management Bill.
8. Executive Bodies Independence Protection Law
9. National Assembly Budget & Research Office Bill
10. The Institutional Restructuring of the NNPC Bill (in place of the PIB)
11. The E-Commerce Protection Law Bill
12. Critical Infrastructure Protection Bill
13. Market Competition Bill
14. Credit Bureau and Referencing Bill
15. Agricultural Credit and Loan Scheme Bill
16. Private Sector Infrastructure Investment Protection and Regulation Bill
17. The Road Sector Reform Bill.
18. The Railway Sector Reform Bill
19. Ports and Habour Reforms Bill
20. Regulatory Impact Assessment Bill
21. Climate Change Bill
22. Tax and Revenue Law/Bill
23. Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act
24. The Fertilizer Bill
25. The Government Performance and Result Act (GPRA)
26. The National Poverty Eradication Commission (Establishment) Bill.
27. CAMA Amendment. Company and Allied Matters Act Amendment
28. Nosdra Bill
29. Police commission
30. Securities and Exchange Bill
Bamikole Omishore is the Special Assistant on New Media to President of the Senate