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Senate passes eight out of 120 bills in 2008

Posted by By Semiu Okanlawon, Tony Amokeodo, John Alechenu and Mudiaga Affe on 2008/12/24 | Views: 901 |

Senate passes eight out of 120 bills in 2008

Only eight bills, out of 120 considered by the Senate in 2008 went through the mandatory three readings before being passed.

Only eight bills, out of 120 considered by the Senate in 2008 went through the mandatory three readings before being passed.

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Rules and Business, Senator Aloysius Etok, said this at a news conference in Abuja on Monday.

He also stated that the upper chamber of the National Assembly sat for just 90 days.

In their immediate reactions, the Nigerian Bar Association and the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties chided the Senate for what they considered its dismal performance.

Section 63 (1) of the 1999 Constitution requires each of the two chambers of the National Assembly to “sit for a period of not less than 181days a year.”

By Monday, 93 bills had passed first reading while 21 scaled through the second stage.
Etok explained that the process of law-making was slow because it was painstaking and thorough. This, he said, was necessary for laws passed to stand the test of time.

He said, “Usually, bills do not have problems passing through the first reading. This is so because as long as it conforms to the basics, it is allowed to be put on the order paper and read.

“It is during the second reading that you have massive input from different sources. If it passes through the second reading, it is referred to the appropriate committee where more work is required.
“If the bill passes through the second reading successfully, it is likely to pass through the third with minor adjustments before it is passed and sent for accent by the President.”

Ekok also said, ”As at today, the Senate has sat for a total of 90 days. The activities of the Senate Committee on Rules and Business in the course of the second session were not without challenges. As a unified committee, we have been able to surmount these challenges and still forge ahead.”

Reacting, the President of the NBA, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), described as “shameful” the Senate‘s passage of only eight bills for the year.

Akeredolu, who spoke with one of our correspondents in Lagos said, “It is very shameful for the Senate to claim that it passed eight out of 120 bills for 2008.

“That is not a palatable development for the upper chamber in a democratic setting in a 21st century. In order to correct this situation, I will advise the senators to employ lawyer assistants that will assist them in legislative works.

“Don‘t forget that the lawyers would have done most of the research works on any proposed bill and cover the grey areas to make the job easy for the lawmakers.”

The Publicity Secretary of CNPP, Mr. Osita Okechukwu, said that he did not expect much from the Senate.

He said, “I am surprised that they did the much that they could do. You could see how they all abandoned the Freedom of Information bill, and you could see the speed they used in increasing their own emolument.

“We knew there was disconnect between the National Assembly, the state Houses of Assembly and the PDP-led executive. We knew from day one that there is not much we should expect from them.”
However, a member of the Senate, Uche Chukwumerije, said it would not be right to judge the performance of the Senate in terms of the number of bills passed.

According to him, it would depend on the quality of bills and not the number.
”For example, if you have 1,000 bills and pass three quality bills that will affect positively the lives of Nigerians, then it is worth it,” he said.

But he rated the Senate low in terms of the quality of opposition and the checking of the excesses of the majority party.

He also scored the upper legislative chamber low on the hasty passage of the 2009 budget, saying that it merely responded to the failure of the 2008 budget.

The salaries and allowances for members of the National Assembly is about N52.4bn every year.
Outside the bulk sum, members of the National Assembly are also to earn an additional sum of N15.02bn as multi-purpose allowances on a quarterly basis.

Specifically, the Senate President is entitled to a total package of N16,395,800 made up of a basic salary of N2,484, 242,50 yearly and allowances, running into N13,911,758.

The Deputy Senate President is entitled to a total package of N15,240,500 which is made up of N2,309,166,75 as basic salary, and N12,931,333, 55 as allowances.

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