OrderPaperToday – With the current administration’s plans to implement the Oronsaye report (produced by the 2012 presidential committee on restructuring and rationalisation of government parastatals, commissions and agencies), it is assumed that the 9th Senate would align accordingly.
However, the data reveals otherwise. This is because 37.4% of the total bills sponsored in the first two years of the current senate seek to establish one new public institution, agency, or parastatal.
Thus of the 716 bills sponsored so far by senators, 268 of those bills are establishment draft legislations.
Looking further at the stages of these establishment bills, 166, which make up 61.9% of the bills, are at the first reading stage. At the same time, 67 of the establishment bills, which is 25% of the total number of establishment bills, have been referred to committees for further legislative work.
Senators Mohammed Sani Musa (APC, Niger East), who tops the senate newbies bills sponsorship chart with 26 bills, also leads in the establishment bills sponsorship race. It is notable that out of his 26 bills, 14 of them are establishment bills, amounting to 53.8% of his total bills. However, only one of his bills has been passed, which is the establishment of an orthopaedic hospital. His other bills are still at first reading and committee stages.
There is also Sen. Adaeze Stella Oduah (APC, Anambra-North), who leads in senate top 10 bills sponsorship chart. Of her total 35 bills sponsored, 12 of them are establishment bills. Some of which include; South-East Development Commission, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, among other institution of learning establishment bills. While none of these bills has been passed, nine are still at the first reading stage, while the other three are at committees.
Another senator with a high number of establishment bills is Sen. Ali Ndume (APC, Borno South). The long-time serving member has a total of 12 establishment bills out of the 13 bills he has sponsored in the first two years of the assembly. It means 92.3% of his total numbers of bills are establishment bills. However, only one of these has been passed, i.e. the Nigerian Army University Biu (Est, Etc) Bill. The others are still at committee or first reading stages.
Also, Sen. Ifeanyi Patrick Ubah (YPP, Anambra-South) another newbie has sponsored 20 bills and ten out of his 20 bills are establishment bills.
As for the senate establishment bills passed in the period under review, there are 29 of them. Thus the 29 establishment bills passed amounts to 10.8% of the 268 establishments bills sponsored and 3.9% of total senate bills passed at midterm.
Incidentally, Sen. Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed (APC, Adamawa-Central), who tops the productivity chart with five bills passed, also leads in this category, as all five bills are establishment bills. The North-east senator’s bills are on the establishment of medical centres, teaching hospitals and universities.
In contrast, one controversial establishment bill that has come up is the National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speeches (Est. etc.) bill, sponsored by Sen. Sabi Abdullahi (APC, Niger North). The bill, introduced in the 8th Assembly, but abandoned after intense pressure and criticisms, was reintroduced in the 9th Assembly. The bill, which is still at the first reading stage, seeks to prescribe the death penalty for anyone found guilty of spreading a falsehood that leads to the death of another person.
As in the previous senate, the bill has received a lot of criticism and agitation from various groups and stakeholders. Most of these groups clamoured for a review of the capital punishments prescribed in the bill or for the discarding of the bill in its entirety. Similarly, at the moment, the bill seems to have been abandoned since 2019 after first reading.
Rounding up the stages of the senate establishment bills, there are three bills reported out of committees; two are at the second reading stage; and one has been suspended for further consultation.
Finally, of the 268 establishment bills, universities and colleges appear the most with 56 and 42 bills respectively, while health establishments are 36 bills. The other establishment bills are spread across agriculture, ecology, security, ICT, finance, petroleum, social welfare, etc.
Considering that Nigeria presently has over 250 institutions, parastatals and agencies of government, which costs a lot to run, the senate might want to review its establishment bills sponsorship tally in the remaining two years of the 9th Assembly.