OrderPaperToday – 10 of 109 senators of the 9th Senate have distinguished themselves in the bills productivity class at midterm of the assembly.
While the sponsorship and quality of bills is a critical aspect of measuring the performance of lawmakers, mere first reading of those legislative drafts is clearly not enough. The bills productivity of lawmakers as to how well and far those proposals progress towards becoming laws is a more essential index of performance measurement. This includes the last and most critical stage of Presidential Assent.
How a Bill Becomes Law…
When a lawmaker drafts a proposed law (which could be a new legislation, or an existing law to be amended, repealed, and re-enacted), the draft is referred to as a bill. Thus, the process of passing bills into laws requires several stages of discussions and considerations in the Senate and House of Representatives. These processes also apply to the alteration of the Constitution as stipulated in section 9 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
The first stage in the process of lawmaking is the gazetting of a bill. This is an official publication that provides a public notice on the bill or proposed area of amendment to the Constitution, in order to give citizens the opportunity to be aware of the proposal and prepare positions ahead of public hearing.
The next stage is the introduction of the draft at plenary in what is called first reading of the bill. By this, the bill is listed in the order paper, which is like a programme of events to be carried out at plenary for the day. The Clerk of the chamber the bill emanates from reads out the short title of the bill to complete the first reading stage.
A later date is then set for the second reading of the bill to give other lawmakers time to study the bill and return for the debate. This is the period where the sponsor of the bill undertake lobbying of colleagues to garner support for his or her draft.
At the second reading stage, the sponsor is invited by the presiding officer to lead a debate on the general principles of the bill. The sponsor’s responsibility at this time is to sway support for the draft by marshalling arguments for and diminishing possible points against it. Other interested members of parliament are thereafter invited by the presiding officer to speak for or against the bill with an equal amount of time allotted to each member indicating interest to speak. At the end of the debate, the presiding officers calls for a vote for the bill to be read a second time through either by voice or electronic means. Whereby the members who vote “ayes” are more than those with “nays” vote, the bill then scales second reading and immediately referred to an appropriate committee of either the Senate or House of Representatives as the case may be.
The committee so assigned goes on to critically examine the bill, conducts a public hearing for citizens to share their positions on the draft and then reverts to plenary with a report.
Based on report of the committee’s deliberations on the bill, a motion for consideration of the report is moved and members or senators make a clause-by-clause debate of the fine-tuned provisions in what is called a Committee of the Whole. When majority of lawmakers approve of the provisions (or make amendments as is sometimes the case), the report is adopted by plenary.
Next stage is for the bill to be read a third time. This is actually a mere formality as the Senate or House plenary usually approves of the report adopted by the Committee of the Whole. At this stage, the bill is said to have passed third reading and deemed to have been passed by the parliament chamber in question. Thereafter, a clean copy of the bill including agreed amendments is signed by the Clerk and then sent to the other chamber for concurrent approval.
However, whereby the receiving chamber has amendments that the originating chamber does not agree with, it may request for a conference of both chambers. After which the conference committee is set up for the harmonization of the bill.
Finally, an agreed copy of the bill is then adopted by both chambers. Then the Clerk of the National Assembly transmits a clean copy of the bill to the President for assent or rejection as the case may be. The steps for a bill to become a law are illustrated below:
Value versus Volume: The Bills Productivity Index…
Based on the foregoing, it goes without saying that a key area of bills productivity is that members of parliament put in the required efforts and lobby support to ensure that bills sponsored move across the various stages towards becoming tangible laws. As earlier stated, although bills sponsorship is essential in lawmaking, the progression of these bills beyond a mere draft is even far more important. It would simply mean that though sponsoring a high volume of drafts at midterm might be impressive, such must be matched by the real value of bills productivity.
To further illustrate this point, it is important to examine the list of ten senators who led on bills sponsorship: Sen. Adaeze Stella Oduah (APC, Anambra-North), 35 Bills; Sen. Mohammed Sani Musa (APC, Niger East), 26 Bills; Sen. Ekwunife Lilian Uche (PDP, Anambra-Central), 23 Bills; Sen. Uba Sani (APC, Kaduna Central), 21 Bills; Sen. Omo-Agege (APC, Delta-Central), 20 Bills; Sen. Ifeanyi Patrick Ubah (YPP, Anambra-South), 20 Bills; Sen. Gershom Henry Bassey (PDP, Cross River-South), 19 Bills; Sen. Gyang Istifanus Dung (PDP, Plateau North), 18 Bills; Sen. Michael Opeyemi Bamidele (APC, Ekiti Central), 17 Bills; and Sen. Ibikunle Oyelaja Amosun (APC, Ogun Central),15 Bills.
Looking at this list of seasoned politicians, some of whom are long-term serving legislators, former executive office holders, and ex-governors, it would be expected that they use such experience and expertise to garner momentum in the progression of their bills.
However only three senators out of these top ten senators by bills sponsorship appear on the productivity index detailed below. Interestingly, of the three senators who made the bills productivity list, two are new to the senate. The graphic illustration below provides an overview of the top ten senators committed to the progression of their bills beyond the first reading stage of lawmaking:
Meet the top 10 Senators by Bills Productivity…
Leading the senate bills progression chart is new senate member, Uba Sani (APC, Kaduna Central) with 21 bills. Uba Sani likewise makes the senate top 10 newbies’ list at number two and fourth on the top 10 senators by bills sponsorship. Five of his bills have been passed, and one is at the committee stage. The rest have been read for the first time. Of his five bills passed, two are to establish a college of education and medical centre respectively. The others are to repeal and re-enact the banks and other financial act (BOFIA) 2004 and amend the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria act. It is worthy to note that the amendment BOFIA bill was assented by the President in November 2020. This is the key critical factor that makes him number one on this important performance appraisal category. The amended act seeks to enhance the soundness and resilience of the financial system for sustainable growth and development of the Nigerian economy, and other matters. Sen. Sani replaced the outspoken activist, Shehu Sani, in an election that was settled at the national assembly tribunal in Kaduna.
Next to Sani on the Productivity Index list is a female lawmaker from Adamawa, Sen. Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed (APC, Adamawa-Central). Five of her 11 bills have been passed; two are at committee stage and three at first reading. The five bills passed are all establishment bills- drafts that seek to create government parastatals, commissions, institutions, or agencies, in addition to existing ones. While four are on health centres and hospitals, one is for a university. Incidentally, her passed bill on Modibbo Adama University of Technology received presidential assent in January 2021, making her to join the extra-distinguished club with Sen. Sani, who has a total of 21 bills above the 11 she posted at midterm. A breakdown of establishment bills by the senate is another aspect of the data analysed in our series on the assessment of the National Assembly at midterm. Aishatu Dahiru, who was previously a member of the House of Representatives in the 7th Assembly, came in as a new senator in the 9th Assembly. She also appears in third place on the female senators’ bills sponsorship chart.
Another new member of the senate that makes the bills productivity list is Sen. Ibrahim Yahaya Oloriegbe (APC, Kwara Central). His election into the senate was another keenly contested one to replace former senate president, Bukola Saraki. Being a medical doctor shows in the nature of his three bills passed. They are the national health insurance, mental health and substance abuse and medical and dental practitioners act 1988, repeal and re-enactment, bills. Four of Oloriegbe’s bills are at the committee stage, and seven have passed first reading. Therefore, he has sponsored a total of 14 bills in the period under review.
Next is Sen. Yahaya Abubakar Abdullahi (APC, Kebbi North), the senate majority leader. Even though his bills tally is in single digits, he has been productive in ensuring that they progress substantially. He has six bills, three of which have been passed; two are at committee stage and one first reading. All his bills are establishment drafts. While two are to establish educational institutions, the third is for a chartered institute of forensic investigative professionals of Nigeria.
Fifth on the list is Sen. Buhari Abdulfatai (APC, Oyo North), a federal lawmaker since 2003. He first came in as a member of the House of Representatives in 2003 and this is his second time in the senate. Three out of his 14 bills have been passed. While two are to establish a university and a national transport commission, the third is to repeal and re-enact the Nigerian railway corporation act 2004. Additionally, one bill is at the committee stage, and the others have passed first reading.
Deputy senate president, Sen. Ovie Augustine Omo-Agege (APC, Delta-Central) also makes it to the bills productivity chart. He has sponsored 20 bills, of which two have been passed, ten are at committee stage and eight have been read for the first time. While one of the passed bills is a university establishment bill, the other is the sexual harassment bill that seeks to redress and prevent the sexual harassment of students in tertiary institutions, among other related matters. Omo-Agege drops from the top spot in our first year bills productivity index to sixth at midterm.
In seventh and eighth place, we have two lawmakers from Lagos. In seventh, Sen. Solomon Olamilekan Adeola (APC, Lagos West) has sponsored 12 bills. Two of these bills have been passed to establish technology universities in Ilaro and Yaba, respectively. There are two other bills at the committee stage, and the remaining have been read for the first time.
In eighth is another female lawmaker and a third-time senator, Sen. Oluremi Tinubu (APC, Lagos Central). She is also another senator on the chart who makes the productivity chart despite having single-digit bills. Four of her six bills have been read for the first time, and the senate has passed two. The two bills passed are a 2021 bill on the Nigeria Postal Service bill and the Criminal Code Act amendment bill which ‘redefines’ rape to the extent that both females and males can be victims of rape. It is a shift from the previous provision that focuses only on a “man committing rape when he has carnal knowledge of a woman against her will, without her consent, or if that consent was gotten by coercion”.
Furthermore, there is another senator who has single-digit bills sponsorship but appears on the productivity chart. Thus, with a total of two bills, Sen. Haliru Dauda Jika (APC, Bauchi Central) comes in at the ninth spot as two of his bills have been passed. One bill is to repeal and re-enact the police act, and the second is to establish a police academy.
Rounding up the bill’s progression chart is another new senator, Mohammed Sani Musa (APC, Niger East). He also appears on both the senate newbies bills sponsorship and top 10 senators bills sponsorship charts with 26 Bills. While one of his bills has been passed, nine are at committee, and the remaining have passed reading.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This report was updated on September 10, 2021.