OrderPaperToday – At least 10 senators of the 9th senate who sponsored high number of bills did little to move the needle on their progression thereby indulging in bills dumping at midterm.
Numbers not enough…
The essence of sponsoring bills, whether in large or small numbers, is to ensure that such bills become laws. Thus as revealed in OrderPaper’s senate bills productivity analysis, it behoves the lawmaker to channel efforts to move their bills through the various stages of passage into law. Unfortunately, however, an emerging trend observed in both legislative chambers of the National Assembly is stagnation of sponsored bills. This throws up the bills dumping category in the various analysis by this newspaper on legislative performances at midterm.
Stagnation equals dumping…
A bill is said to stagnate when the bill’s sponsor fails to move the bill beyond the introduction/ first reading stage. Therefore, after the bill’s short title is read on the floor of the Senate by the Clerk, not much is heard of the bill after that. In analysing the 9th Assembly senators with stagnated bills, data shows that while some of them top the bills sponsorships charts of their states by volume, they have failed to push these bills beyond the first reading stage.
The 10 Senators who dumped bills…
The bills dumping index captures senators with at least ten bills and 80% of which are stagnated at the first reading stage at midterm of the 9th senate. A cursory look at the list of these senators shows that a majority of them have served in the Senate more than once. While seven are returning senators, the six newbies have had some form of political experience before coming into the federal legislature. Thus, legislative inexperience cannot be said to be the cause of bills stagnation by several of these returning or long time serving senators.
The following are snippets on the 10 senators that make up the dumping index:
Sen. Suleiman Abdu Kwari (APC, Kaduna North): He recorded a total of 14 bills but is yet to move any of them beyond the first reading stage. Thus 100% of his bills are still stuck at the first reading stage at midterm. Kwari’s bills are on money laundering prevention, armed forces (joint security operations and synergy, constitution alteration, and establishment bills. Although he is new to the Senate, with his experience as a politician and former commission in Kaduna, it is fair to say the legislative processes are not altogether new to him.
Sen. Emmanuel Yisa Orker-Jev (PDP, Benue North-West): This is another senator who has 100% of his bills still at the introductory stage. While he has sponsored 11 bills in two years, none has moved to the second reading stage. Interestingly, Orker-Jev’s 11 bills were all sponsored in his second year in the Senate, as he had no bills in his first year. Being new to the Senate, it might be assumed that he is slowly getting the hang of the inner workings of the legislative processes in the National Assembly. But that is clearly not the case because he was not only a ranking member of the House of Representatives but chaired the critical Rules and Business committee of the green chamber. His stagnated bills cover intellectual property and copyrights protection, published works for persons with disabilities, cybercrimes prevention, among other legal inclined bills. These bills show a reflection of his background as a lawyer.
Sen. Thompson Sekibo George (PDP, Rivers East): He a returning senator who has been in the Senate since 2007. He has nine of his ten bills still at the first reading stage at midterm. More so, as a fourth-time senator, more would be expected of him to progress his bills beyond first reading. Some of his bills include medical negligence compensation, constitution alteration and security bills.
Sen. Ike Ekweremadu (PDP, Enugu West): This long time serving senator is in his fifth term. He has sponsored ten bills at midterm of the 9th senate nine of which are still at first reading. The serial former deputy senate president has failed to use his political clout in advancing his bills, and as such, 90% of his bills have been unable to progress to second reading. Again being such a seasoned politician, the stagnation of his bills is rather notable. His bills cover areas on development, establishment of institutions and constitution alteration.
Sen. Adaeze Stella Oduah (APC, Anambra-North): Sen. Stella Oduah, who leads the 109 senators of the 9th assembly with a high tally of 35 bills in two years, stands firmly on the flipside of bills dumping. Out of her 35 bills, 31 of them are still at the first reading stage. Therefore, 88.6% of her bills have failed to progress beyond first reading stage after two years. As a returning senator and former minister, the political and legislative clout to push her bills beyond first reading should not be lacking. She has sponsored bills such as the protection of children from sexual offences, establishment bills, renewable energy, marriage act amendment and constitution alteration.
Sen. Ekwunife Lilian Uche (PDP, Anambra-Central): Like her Anambra and female counterpart above, Ekwunife has also performed below expectations in the area of bills productivity. Incidentally, both female lawmakers have contributed 7.7% of the 736 senate bills sponsored in the first two years of the 9th assembly senate, they likewise top the female senator’s bills chart at numbers 1 and 2, respectively. But these are mere numbers without adequate efforts to have the bills passed. While Ekwunife has an impressive tally of 23 bills in two years, 20 (87%) of these bills are still stuck at the first reading stage.
Sen. Gershom Henry Bassey (PDP, Cross River-South): Another returning senator and top bill’s sponsor, Sen. Bassey has a total of 19 bills. However, 16 of these have not made it past the first reading stage. These bills include a national offender’s central registry, establishment bills, sexual offenders register, fire service amendment, and constitution alteration. Being someone who has been into politics as far back as 1999, it’s expected that more of his bills ought to progress towards becoming laws.
Sen. Ifeanyi Patrick Ubah (YPP, Anambra-South): The third of the Anambra senators has likewise sponsored a high number of bills. Of his 20 bills sponsored, 16 of them are stagnated at the first reading stage. As a new member of the Senate, Ubah is the only senator who does not belong to the majority party (APC) or the minority (PDP). He is the lone member of YPP in the Senate.
Sen. Tolulope Akinremi Odebiyi (APC, Ogun West): A new senator, he has sponsored ten bills, 80% of which have not gone beyond the first reading stage. Thus he appears on the 9th spot on the bills dumping index. His bills include plastic bags (management and prohibition, national burns and rehabilitation centre, and establishment bills.
Sen. Akinyelure Patrick Ayo (APC, Ondo Central): Rounding up the bills dumping chart is third-term senator Patrick Akinyelure who has ten bills to his name at midterm. He has also done poorly in progressing his bills, as eight are still stuck at the first reading stage. Some of Akinyelure Ayo’s bills are on the prohibition of discrimination between first degrees and higher national diplomas and establishment bills.