June 12, 2024

24 Senators without bill: Bills not only yardstick for assessing lawmakers — LP, others

LP campaign

•I’ve sponsored a bill, raised motions, contributed to debates —Ezea

By Clifford Ndujihe & John Alechenu

THE Labour Party, LP, and founder of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, Chief Chekwas Okorie, have said that sponsoring bills was not only parameter to measure performance of legislators.

Apart from sponsoring bills, lawmakers also engage in debates on the floor of the House, committee meetings, raise motions and carry out oversight functions on government agencies, among others, they said.

They spoke in response to Vanguard’s exclusive story showing that no fewer than 24 senators had not sponsored any bill almost one year into the inauguration of the 10th Senate. Lawmaking is one of the statutory and primary functions of legislators.

They spoke as Senator Samson Ezea picked holes in the inclusion of his name in the list of senators that had not sponsored any bill.

According to Vanguard’s investigation, no fewer than 24 of the 109 senators drawn from all parts of the country did not sponsor any bill in the upper chamber of the National Assembly between July 13, 2023 and March 2024.

However, each of the other 85 senators has at least one bill to his or her name and as of March 31, 2024 had sponsored 279 bills.

I’ve sponsored a bill, raised motions, contributed to debates – Ezea

Reacting to the story, Mr. Aniebo Nwamu, his senior special adviser (Media), said: “The truth is that, precisely on April 30, 2024, Senator Ezea’s bill was listed No. 5 on the Senate Order Paper for the day, as one of the bills to be presented to the Senate for debate. The bill entitled: “The Agricultural Research Council Act (Amendment) Bill, 2024,” passed the first reading on the floor of the Nigerian Senate.

“The bill is to seek the amendment of the Agricultural Research Council Act, to make provision for the creation of Federal College of Agriculture, Adani, Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area, Enugu State. It is currently making legislative progress towards its passage into law.

“Besides, video clips showing Senator Ezea raising motions and contributing to debates on the floor of the red chamber are everywhere on the web.”

Lawmakers do more than sponsoring bills – LP

Indeed, the Labour Party said the sponsorship of bills alone should not be the yardstick for measuring the performance of lawmakers especially at the National Assembly.

National Publicity Secretary of the party, Obiora Ifoh, said: “In democracies the world over, lawmaking is know as one of several functions of elected members of parliament.

“There are other functions like: oversight, contributions during plenary, carrying out committee work and attracting federal attention to issues of national importance among others ought to be taken into consideration.

“It is possible that some lawmakers who don’t have bills of their own co-sponsored other pieces of legislation with their colleagues. They also made meaningful contributions to debates during plenary, moved motions and carried out other legislative functions.”

Chekwas Okorie concurs

Okorie, shared similar views, explaining, “Sponsorship of bills is one out of many functions of legislators. Nigerians, especially constituents of these lawmakers must begin to ask serious questions.

“Even those who scored high on sponsorship of bills, how many of such bills have become laws? What impact have these bills or Acts had on the lives of ordinary Nigerians? These are the questions we should be asking, not who sponsored or doesn’t sponsor a bill.”