As the Ninth National Assembly’s four-year tenure slowly ends, all unfinished parliamentary business will be terminated, including stagnated bills that are yet to be passed into law.
In this special NASS Report Card on Stagnated Bills, we focus on the parliamentarians with the most bills yet to go beyond the First reading stage.
Understandably, lawmaking is a long and slow process. A bill has to go through many readings and stages in each Chamber before it gets the Presidential assent.
However, citizens would expect that in the three years spent into their four-year tenure, most lawmakers in the incumbent 9th Assembly would have moved a better part of bills sponsored by them far beyond the stage of first reading. Similarly, with the high volume of bills often sponsored by some legislators, citizens are also left wondering if the resources spent on such a multitude of bills would have equally been expended on ensuring that these bills are debated on and passed for concurrence and possibly assent.
Sadly, bill dumping appears to be the norm in the past three years of the 9th National Assembly (2019 – May 2022), leading to the stagnation of such pieces of .legislation. For the avoidance of doubt, a bill is said to stagnate when the bill’s sponsor fails to move the bill beyond the introduction/first reading stage. This means that after the bill’s short title is read on the floor of the House by the Clerk, very little is heard of the bill after that.
The Performance Scorecard for the Third Session bills of the 9th House of Representatives shows that a total of 1979 bills were sponsored. While 11 were passed and 217 passed to the Senate for concurrence, 1,177 of these bills are still awaiting second reading. The remaining 574 bills are presently across other stages of lawmaking. Hence, 59.5% of the House bills stagnated at the first reading stage from June 2019 to May 2022.
Accordingly, data gathered from the 9th National Assembly Appraisals (Third Session ) highlights these lawmakers as members of the House of Representatives with the most stagnated bills.
Waive Ejiroghene Francis (APC, Ughelli North/Ughelli South/ Udu; Delta)
Coming into the House on a backlog of numerous litigations from the State High Courts to the Supreme Court of Nigeria, the first-time lawmaker sponsored 38 bills in three years.
While the volume is impressive for a newbie, he failed to push for these bills to be debated on the floor of the House. Therefore, 33 of these bills were stuck at first reading. This means that 86.8% of bills sponsored by the lawmaker have stagnated. While four are awaiting Committee Report, one has been laid on the table.
In addition, the lawmaker vying for a second term in 2023, has sponsored establishment bills on health and education, finance bills, social welfare, and Constitution amendment, among others.
Oluwole Busayo Oke (PDP, Obokun/Oriade; Osun)
The lawmaker won elections into the House in 2003, 2015 and 2019. In the 9th Assembly, he currently serves as Chairman of the House Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and has sponsored 30 bills between June 2019 and May 2022.
With 90% (27) of these bills still awaiting second reading, one has been laid on the table while the other is negative. His prominent bills cover oil and gas, education, security, communication and finance. He is also seeking for a fourth term in the 2023 National Assembly elections.
Obinna Chidoka (PDP, Idemili North/Idemili South; Anambra)
Having served for a year in 2007, the Court of Appeal removed this lawmaker. He, however, returned to the House in 2015 and 2019 for the 8th and 9th Assembly, respectively.
Being in the 9th Assembly, Rep. Chidoka has sponsored 23 bills in three years. However, only one of his bills is at the committee stage, as the remaining 22 have been dumped at first reading. Hence 95.6% of his bills have stagnated.
Some of these bills include Constitution and Federal Road Safety Commission Act Amendment, finance, social welfare and education. The third-term member is likewise seeking to be re-elected for a fourth term.
Francis Charles Uduyok (PDP, Ikot Abasi/Mkpat Enin/Eastern Obolo; Akwa Ibom)
A former local council chairman, he was first elected to the National Assembly in 2015 and re-elected in 2019 but will not be returning to the 10th Assembly
In three years of the 9th House, the two-time lawmaker has sponsored 23 bills. Four of these bills are at committee stage, while the remaining 19 (82.6 %) are stagnated at the first reading stage.
These bills center on child protection, maritime, judiciary, agriculture, and public service.
Unyime Josiah Idem (PDP, Ukanafun /Oruk Anam; Akwa Ibom)
The 2015 PDP governorship candidate came into the House in 2019. Hence, as a newbie, he sponsored 16 bills in three years. However, only one of the 16 bills is at the Committee stage, while one has been consolidated. Therefore, 87.5% (14) of his bills are stagnated at first reading.
Bills sponsored by the lawmaker cover technology, e.g. Artificial Intelligence and Robotics Research Regulatory Agency (Establishment) bill. Others are on Constitution Amendment as well as public and private sector bills. Like his counterparts, Idem seeks to be re-elected for a second term in the National Assembly.
Paschal Obi (LP, Ideato North / Ideato South; Imo)
While he has sponsored 18 bills, 17 are still awaiting second reading, and one has been consolidated. This means that 94.4% of his bills have been dumped at first reading for three years.
Some of these bills are focused on Constitution amendment, health, establishment bills and oil and gas. He was disqualified from the 2022 All Progressive Congress (APC) National Assembly primaries on the grounds of alleged anti-party activities.
The lawmaker is however, seeking re-election under the ticket of the Labor Party as captured in the INEC list of 2023 National Assembly candidates.
Rimamnde Shawulu Kwewum (NNPP, Takum/Donga/ Ussa; Taraba)
The two-time member has sponsored a total of 14 bills in three years. While 13 have been dumped at the first reading stage, one is awaiting Committee report. Many of these bills are focused on Constitution amendment, while a few are on security and health.
Also, he is seeking re-election under the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) ticket, as captured in the INEC list of 2023 National Assembly candidates. This follows his decamp from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Yakubu Dogara (PDP, Bogoro/Dass/ Tafawa Balewa, Bauchi)
The Speaker of the 8th Assembly sponsored ten bills at the end of the 9th Assembly’s third session. However, 90% of these bills are stagnated at first reading stage, while one has been consolidated.
Given over 15 years of experience at the National Assembly, his constituents would expect that more should have been done to have some of these bills passed. His bills cover Data Protection, Firearms, Judiciary, and Finance, among others. However, the fourth-term lawmaker is not returning to the National Assembly as he did not participate in the party primaries.
Following the judgement of the Federal High Court in Abuja on April 22, 2022, which sacked and declared his seat vacant due to his defection to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) from the PDP, Dogara has since appealed the judgment.
James Abiodun Faleke (APC, Ikeja; Lagos)
Interestingly the Lagos lawmaker ran as Deputy Governor to the late Abubakar Audu in the November 2015 governorship election in Kogi State.
While he has sponsored 11 bills in three years, ten are stuck at first reading, and one has been consolidated.
Some of these bills are focused on Repeal and enactment of the Fiscal Responsibility Act and establishing Colleges of Education, among others. Representing Ikeja Federal Constituency, the lawmaker is seeking re-election for a fourth term into the 10th Assembly.
Nnam Obi Prince Uchechuku (PDP, Ahoada West / Ogba Egbema Ndoni; Rivers)
The lawmaker has 100% of his bills stuck at first reading as all 13 have stagnated for three years. These bills cover the area of finance, security and education.
Following the release of the INEC list of National Assembly candidates, he isn’t seeking re-election to the National Assembly for a second term.
Editor’s Note: Bills tagged unknown have no stage of the bill specified in the National Assembly Bills Data Bank. However, from investigation, several of these bills are stuck at the first reading stage.