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By Umoru Henry

Chairman, Senate Services Committee, Senator Sani Musa, All Progressives Congress, APC, Niger East has taken a swipe at  Senator Abdul Ningi for describing the 9th National Assembly as the ” rubber stamp ” of the executive arm of government.

Ningi had reported in one of the National Dailies,  described the 9th National Assembly led by the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan as Chairman; a rubber stamp of the Presidency.

In a statement yesterday in Abuja,  Senator Musa who noted that Ningi as a former lawmaker, a former Deputy Senate leader who should understand the workings of the National Assembly more than other Nigeriana got it wrong,  said that the 9th Senate and by extension, National Assembly, had in line with its legislative agenda, constructively engaged the executive arm of government is giving Nigerians good governance.

According to Musa, the upper chamber and by extension the National Assembly remains committed to serving the interest of Nigerians in the discharge of its constitutional duties and that no amount of name-calling by critics would deter the Senate from considering and passing pro-people legislation needed for the development and advancement of the country.  

He said that Nigeria has three arms of government that are constitutionally equal but the people are more heavily represented in the legislature than the other arms, adding that for the peace and development of the nation, the three arms of government must work together as the failure and success of one arm of government will be attributed to all.

According to him, the legislature, being the first arm of government constitutionally, the closest and as well the most accessible by the people, easily lends itself to public scrutiny and sometimes takes the blame even for government decisions that fall outside its legislative competence.

Musa explained that the three arms of government have a responsibility to each other and an obligation to Nigerians, thus must have a cordial relationship based on mutual respect for constitutional rights and mandate to succeed, adding that the fact that the 9th Senate is not confrontational or fighting the Executive must not be misconstrued for being a rubber stamp Senate.

Musa said, ” Through constructive collaboration with the executive arm of government, the yearly budget cycle has been restored to January to December, Passed the Petroleum Industry Bill into an Act after many years of failure, passed electoral  Law for credible of Electoral process, the 1999 Constitution Amendment bill. 

“These are aside numerous other bills and motions sponsored, debated and considered for the good of generality of Nigerians.”

He said that the  President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan had in  December last year as a guest lecturer at the first Distinguished Parliamentarians’ Lecture Series which was facilitated by the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies debunked the public perception of the 9th National Assembly as a rubber stamp of the executive.

 Lawan spoke on “The Legislature, Legislative Mandate and the People – The Reality and the Public Perception.”

According to the President of the Senate, the current 9th National Assembly is the most successful in law-making since the return to civil rule in 1999 and the upper chamber and by extension, the National Assembly remains committed to serving the interest of Nigerians in the discharge of its constitutional duties. 

Musa said that the President of the Senate had said that no amount of name-calling by critics would deter the upper chamber from considering and passing pro-people legislations needed for the development and advancement of the country.  

Lawan had said, “I dear say that the ninth Assembly has been the most successful in the area of lawmaking since 1999.

“We have broken many ‘jinxes’ and done many ‘firsts,’ overcoming traditional obstacles through consensus building and clever political brinkmanship.

“The President of the Senate who noted that as of November 2021, about 2,500 Bills had been introduced in the National Assembly – 769 in the Senate and 1,634 in the House of Representatives, said, “However, as I have repeatedly maintained, for us in the 9th Assembly it is not so much the number of bills as it is quality.

“We have focused our energy working on legislations that have a realistic chance of being assented to as well as those that have the potential to impact most on the lives of Nigerians “

According to him, the President Muhammadu Buhari led-APC had been the most proficient in granting assent to Bills stressing that available data on gazetted Acts showed that between 2015 and 2021, President Buhari had assented to more than 84 Bills, the highest since 1999.

The  President of the Senate said that the projection was that the figure would be significantly higher before the end of Buhari’s tenure in 2023.

From the available data displayed by the Senate President, President Olusegun Obasanjo signed a total of 82 billed into law between 1999 and 2006, and President Umaru Yar’Adua signed 38 bills into law between 2007 and 2009 while President Goodluck Jonathan signed 40 bills into law between 2010 and 2015.

Lawan said, “For twenty years, the National Assembly had attempted reforming the petroleum industry without much success.

“It was first introduced in the 6th Assembly (2007-2011) but failed to scale through. Similar efforts by the 7th Assembly failed to secure concurrence by the Senate while in the 8th Assembly, the Bill was passed but failed to secure presidential assent.

“In the 9th Assembly, we prioritised the Bill in our legislative agenda and worked closely with the Executive to secure passage and assent.

“This historic achievement of the National Assembly means that Nigeria now has legal, governance, regulatory and fiscal frameworks for the petroleum industry that would promote optimal utilisation of the country’s abundant oil and gas resources.

“It will also enhance social and economic development and promote a conducive investment climate in the industry and foster the development of host communities.

“Without sounding immodest, we have equally concluded work on several other important pieces of legislation that have been signed into law, all of which have the potential to significantly enhance various aspects of our national life.

“The Finance Act (2020) successfully amended 17 key aspects of the extant laws including seven existing tax laws.

“The CAMA 2020 Act, also represents a landmark achievement representing the first time in thirty years that this law has been updated.

“The Act introduces measures to ensure efficiency in the registration and regulation of corporate vehicles, reduce the compliance burden of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), enhance transparency and stakeholders’ engagement in corporate vehicles and, overall, promote a more friendly business climate.

“The Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract (Amendment) Act 2019, which we passed and was assented to by the President gives effect to fiscal incentives given to Oil and Gas companies operating in the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin areas under production sharing contracts between the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) or other companies holding oil prospecting licences (OPL) or oil mining leases (OML) and various petroleum exploration and production companies.

“This will significantly increase Nigeria’s earnings from oil wells located deep offshore and give it a fair and equitable share of income derived from its natural resources.

“Other Bills of great economic significance that have been passed by the National Assembly and awaiting Presidential Assent include the Public Procurement Act 2007 (Amendment) Bill, Recovery of Public Property Bill and the Amendment of Assets Management Corporation Act, among others.

“Only a few weeks ago, we concluded work on the Electoral Act (2010) Amendment Bill. Once operational, the law will strengthen our electoral process and further reinforce public confidence in democratic institutions, especially the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

“The controversy generated by the Bill points to the ever-increasing maturity of our democracy and also amply demonstrated that the National Assembly is the people’s Assembly and will always listen to the voice of Nigerians.”

Senator Musa advised the former lawmaker not to drag the legislative institution into the mud in his quest to seek political relevance now when he had the opportunity to but misled the legislators in an unnecessary scuffle with the then executive when he was in the Senate.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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