OrderPaperToday- At the halfway mark into the 9th Senate, the 109 Senators sponsored a total of 746 bills (this is excluding the 20 Executive bills that make a total of 766 bills). These 746 bills were just mere numbers to the public. Most important was the quality of these bills and how they can positively affect the average Nigerian when passed into law.
Thus, the following vital questions have been asked:
How do these bills contribute to the security, anti-corruption and economic agenda of the Executive? Are these bills relevant to the socio-economic and political needs of Nigeria? And importantly, did they convey the needs of the constituents these lawmakers represent?
Therefore, OrderPaper has categorised these bills by sectors to show if there is synergy between the Executive and our Lawmakers. Also, if these bills genuinely reflect the needs of constituents.
Political and Electoral Reforms
The Political and Electoral Reforms sector has a total of 14 bills out of 746. Considering the debacle that happens during elections in Nigeria, it is a sector that most Nigerians pay attention to. Also, with the clamour for amendments to the Electoral Act 2010, it shows in the nature of bills in this sector as eight out of the fourteen bills are on the Electoral Act amendment. Similarly, with the recent activities around the harmonisation of the bill and powers granted to INEC to determine the mode for the transmission of election results, Nigerians should expect the bill to be passed in no time.
Economy: Governance and Finance
Furthermore, the Public Sector Governance & Public Finance Management and Private Sector Governance, Commerce & Industry, and Investments categories have 71 and 54 bills sponsored, respectively. This is because one of the focus areas of the present administration is the economy. Therefore, the number of bills from the two sectors shows some level of alignment between the Executive and Legislative arms.
Also, a bill that stands out in this category is the Banks and Other Financial Act 2004 (Repeal and Re-Enactment) Bill, and it has been passed into law. The bill was sponsored by Sen. Uba Sani (APC, Kaduna Central). It is worthy to note that the amended BOFIA was assented by the president in November 2020. 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.
Gender, Inclusion, and Social Welfare & Protection is another category that housed some bills that can positively impact the lives of Nigerians. While the total number of bills in this sector might only be 28 out of 746 bills, there are some key bills worthy of note. For example, we have the Sen. Ovie Omo-Agege (APC, Delta Central) sponsored Sexual Harassment Bill that has been passed. This bill seeks to redress and prevent the sexual harassment of students in tertiary institutions, among other related matters. It is a welcome piece of legislation given the “sex for grade” scandal that has marred our tertiary institutions in recent times.
Also, other critical bills in this sector include Child Rights Act 2003 (Amendment) Bill sponsored by Sen. Amosun Ibikunle (APC, Ogun Central) and the Older Persons (Rights and Privileges Bill sponsored by Sen. Ezenwa Onyewuchi (PDP, Imo East). Both of these bills have also been passed. Considering that children and the aged are some of the most vulnerable groups in any society, these bills, if well implemented when they have been passed into law, will speak to the needs of citizens.
Anti-corruption and Financial Crimes
While anti-corruption is one of three key focus areas of the Buhari administration, the same cannot be said to echo in the nature of bills sponsored by the 9th Senate. Hence out of a total of 746 bills sponsored between May 2019 and June 2021, only 12 are centred on Anti-corruption and Financial Crimes. This is a mere 1.6% of the total senate bills at midterm. Similarly, none of these 12 bills had gone beyond the first reading stage at the period under review.
Security, Law and Order
Another key focus area of the present administration is security, considering the high level of insecurity spread across the country. Again of the 766 bills passed at midterm, only 42 of these bills appear under the Security, Law, and Order Section. Only two of these bills have been passed (Police Act (Repeal and Re-enactment) Bill and Police Academy (Est. etc.) Bill), and nine of them were at the committee stage. At the same time, the remaining 31 were stuck at first reading.
However, the critical security bills such as the Terrorism (Prevention and Prohibition) Bill and Armed Forces (Joint Security Operations and Synergy) have been stagnated at the introduction stage.
Health and Education
These two sectors are key areas in any country. However, considering our dilapidated health care system alongside the 71 bills sponsored in this category, there is something amiss. Our healthcare system is riddled with constant healthcare worker strikes, medical tourism on the part of the political elite, high mortality rates, etc. So rather than churning out bills to establish more health centres, our Lawmakers can channel the energy towards holding the Executive accountable to upgrade and adequately manage existing facilities.
Similarly, the education sector is gored with so much rot—insistent strikes, poor education quality, and a lack of infrastructure. Thus rather than sponsoring 153 bills in the education sector that will do little or nothing to improve the system, the Legislature can do well to ensure that existing systems are updated and strengthened.
A few other bills in sectors such as Agriculture & Food Security, Energy, ICT, Works & Housing speak to national issues. However, our Lawmakers should consider sponsoring more people-oriented and solution-based bills that address national problems and needs.
Also, a glance at the sectoral bills analysis of the 9th Senate scorecard shows that a chunk of these bills (268 out of 766 bills from the senate) are establishment bills. These establishment bills seek to create one new institution, agency, parastatal or the other.
With the current administration’s plans to implement the Oronsaye report (the 2012 presidential committee on restructuring and rationalisation of the federal government established parastatals, commissions and agencies), it would be assumed that the 9th Assembly senate would minimise the sponsorship of such establishment bills.
Again, the need to work on more substantial bills that resonate with Nigerians’ current realities and needs is re-emphasised.