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8th National Assembly BillsANALYSIS: Comparing 6 months of the 8th and 9th Senate

ANALYSIS: Comparing 6 months of the 8th and 9th Senate

 OrderPaperToday – The 9th assembly has been under serious scrutiny and assessment since its inception in June last year, particularly the Senate which is seen by a section of the public as an appendage of the executive.

Conversely, the Senator Bukola Saraki-led 8th Senate was largely characterised by a sustained feud with the executive arm of government, a position his successor, Ahmad Lawan, has vowed not to take. Instead, he has promised to ensure a smooth interaction with the executive arm, which perhaps, is the reason why the 9th Senate has been labelled “rubber stamp.”

As the 9th Senate enters the second half of its first year, this piece seeks to compare and evaluate the output of both assemblies- 8th and 9th – within the period in respect to bills and the impact of important motions sponsored.

9th Senate – 190 bills, 8th Senate- 139

In its first 6 months, the 9th Senate surpassed its predecessor in total number of bills sponsored. While 190 bills were introduced in the current assembly, the erstwhile assembly sponsored 139 bills within the period under review.

4 notable bills passed by the 8th assembly in the first 6 months

Among the 139 bills the Saraki-led assembly considered, some were instrumental to the socio-economic development of Nigeria.

Among them are:

  1. Nigeria Infrastructure fund bill: Introduced in August 2015, the bill was aimed at providing financial resources to manage and coordinate a diversified portfolio of infrastructure projects in Nigeria for national development but was not assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari.
  2. Electronic Transaction Bill, 2015: This bill sought to provide the legal foundation and offer full protection for electronic signatures and guarantees predictability in contracts made electronically. It, however, did not get signed into law.
  3. Bank and Insolvency (Repeal and Re-enactment bill, 2015: This bill focused on improving the Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria. Due to what was described as “drafting error, this bill failed to get presidential assent.
  4. The National Centre for Cancer and Treatment, 2015: As the name implies, this legislation was passed to improve the treatment and management of cancer patients in Nigeria. It was signed into law by President Buhari.

4 notable bills passed by the 9th assembly in the first 6 months

Within the first 6 months, the 9th assembly equally passed important bills including:

  1. The Finance Bill:  This bill contained an amendment of seven (7) different tax laws – Companies Income Tax Act, Petroleum Profit Tax Act, Personal Income Tax Act, Value Added Tax (VAT) Act, Customs and Excise Tariff, ETC (Consolidation) Act, Capital Gains Tax Act and Stamp Duties Act. It is mostly remembered for the increment of VAT from 5 to 7.5 percent. It was passed and has been signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari.

 

2. Product Sharing Contract bill: Aimed at maximising revenue generation for the government from the oil sector. It got presidential assent on November 4, 2019.

  1. Communication Service Tax Proposed new charges and enforcement of old charges on electronic communication services. It is awaiting second reading.
  2. Hate Speech and Social Media bills: While the former, at first reading stage, seeks to proffer death penalty on those whose hate speech cause death to another, the latter, awaiting public hearing, aims at curbing the spread of fake news with a proposed penalty of N150,000, maximum imprisonment of three years or both on individuals and 5 to 10 million naira for corporate bodies.

Motions and implementation of resolutions within the first 6 months 

In the 8th assembly, a motion sponsored by Senator Dino Melaye in 2015 lamenting the deplorable state of roads despite trillions of naira spent in construction and rehabilitation, urged the federal government to reorganise the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) for immediate rehabilitation and the dualisation of major highways and interstate roads across the country.

President Muhammadu Buhari would later announce the restructuring of FERMA in addition to an order to the agency to fix 44 major roads in critical conditions within 12 weeks.

Another motion by Senator George Sekibo, within the period in question, was centred on the establishment of a Presidential Intervention Committee on the Rehabilitation of North East Zone, following the continual assault on the people of the region and other parts of the country by Boko Haram elements.

President Buhari later announced the inauguration of the committee to restore normalcy and stability to the region.

In the 9th assembly,compliance to resolutions of motions passed by the Senate has not been high. However, two resolutions got fast response from the executive.

A motion moved by Senator Aisha Dahiru on the 3rd of July asked the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to suspend the use of Avastin injection following the loss of sight of 10 persons after its usage at the National Eye Centre.

Four days later, NAFDAC investigated the issue and warned health care providers to ensure proper use of the drug with indications by the manufacturer and as registered by the agency.

 

Titilope Fadare
Titilope Fadare
Titilope has uncommonly rivaled prowess in two international languages: English and French. She is a media practitioner and an impeccable writer with close to 4 years active experience working in well-established national media houses and startups. She has penned several political, social development and human interest stories. Titilope has led and effectively worked with different teams on projects key to governance till the very stage of implementation. She is highly self-driven and organised with a deep sense of responsibility that reflects real life scenarios and professional productivity. You may reach her via Email: t.fadare@orderpaper.ng
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