OrderPaperToday – There are 20 bills which were sponsored and transmitted by the Executive to the National Assembly for passage in the first two sessions of the current legislature.
When added to the 716 bills sponsored by various senators at midterm of the 9th Senate (June 2019 – May 2021) ramps up the total proposed laws to 736 bills. By implication therefore, Executive bills in the Senate account for 2.71% of the total tally in the red chamber. It is worthy of note that, by tradition and legislative practice, these bills are also submitted to the House of Representatives for passage as well.
Of the 20 Executive bills, 8 have been passed; 10 are currently at committee stage; and only 2 are still at first reading. Considering that a good number of legislators have many bills that have not gone beyond first reading, the progression of bills from the Executive is instructive. It raises consideration around executive-legislative relations. It also tells of the efficacy and efficiency of party supremacy in the current tenure of President Muhammadu Buhari. Furthermore and more importantly, it speaks of the resolve of the administration to pursue its core mandates through the parliament.
A categorization of the bills explains the last point better, especially around the context of the three-point agenda of the Buhari-led Executive – anti-corruption, fixing the economy, and ensuring security of lives and properties of citizens.
From the records, 10 out of the 20 bills are economy-related; specifically public sector finance and public sector governance. The annual Appropriation Bill falls squarely into this category and is the most important bill considering that it concerns and affects all expenditure related matters. Simply put, the appropriation bill is the budget. The fastest passage and assent to an appropriation bill was recorded in 2019, for the 2020 fiscal year. It took two months for the transmission and assent, compared to five months wait of the previous year, and seven months wait of the year before that.
Other categorizations of the executive bills are: science & technology, aviation and innovation- 4 bills; security, law and order- 2 bills; petroleum, maritime and solid minerals – 1 bill; private sector governance, commerce, industry and investments – 1 bill; ecology, environment and climate change – 1 bill; and finally, 1 bill for the education sector.
Out of the 8 passed bills, 7 belong in the public sector finance and public sector governance category. The 8th bill is the much talked about Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) now Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), 2021. The only education related bill is a bill for Harmonized Retirement Age for Teachers in Nigeria Bill 2021 (SB. 743) and it has been read the first time, like the Proceeds of Crime Bill 2020 (SB. 553) believed to be critical for the anti-corruption fight of the Executive.
The Proceeds of Crime Bill stalled at first reading for long. It is however now at committee consideration stage having only just passed second reading in late June this year. Considering that the current administration has made it a point to fight corruption, the slow pace of the progression of this bill which may be key in this fight against corruption casts a doubt as to whether or not there is any seriousness to fight corruption by the administration.