By Victor Ahiuma-Young
LAGOS — Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association, NECA, Monday, expressed displeasure over perceived frequent, disruptive and illegitimate summons of Chief Executives Officers, CEOs, of business organisations by committees of the National Assembly.
The umbrella body for employers in the country contended that such incessant summons not only harm business growth, but also run counter to the recently launched “Ease of Doing Business” initiative under the auspices of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council, PEBEC.
NECA specifically took exception to a recent letter and advertorial from the House of Representatives requesting information on product contents from some of its member-companies and, at the same time, inviting these companies to appear before an investigative committee under the leadership of the House Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila.
Speaking on the development, NECA’s Director-General, Mr. Olusegun Oshinowo, said: “While we have no issue against companies providing basic information to the legislators to help them in the course of their investigative activities, we do not agree with the frequent summons by the various committees to appear before them.
“This is a fundamental matter in an on-going court case SC/734/2017 against the Speaker and the House, which is currently at the Supreme Court. The House is very well aware of this position.”
Oshinowo averred that “respondents in the case include Speaker of the House of Representatives (and by extension all the committees and ad-hoc committees within the House of Representatives) and the Clerk of the National Assembly, among others. In effect, they are all restrained by the sub-judice status of this case.
“The crux of the case is the determination of the extent of legislative investigatory powers as contained in sections 88 and 89 of the 1999 Constitution, especially how it applies to private bodies.
‘’We expect, at least in the interim, that this committee stays further action as a proof of a responsible legislature pending the decision of the Court.
“We must consistently remind ourselves that Nigeria is operating a federal constitution that is hinged on separation of power and responsibilities for the three arms of government. Hence, the legislators should seek to work cooperatively with parastatals and agencies of government whose primary role includes regulation of the private sector.
‘’It, therefore, seems strange and inappropriate for the legislative arm to either seek to carry out the functions of these agencies or bypass them all in the name of investigation or oversight function. We reiterate that the private sector does not come under the direct oversight responsibility of the law makers.
‘’This has increased the perception of Nigeria as an unfriendly place to do business due to the extra- regulatory and over-reaching activities of the law makers.
‘’The legislature should cooperate with the Executive arm to realise the latter’s endeavours on the Ease of Doing Business initiative under the auspices of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council, PEBEC.
“NECA as an institution that believes in Social Dialogue is ever willing to engage with the leadership of the House of Representatives on this and related matters in the collective interest of our dear nation.”