Chairman, Senate Committee on Environment and Ecology and one of the leading contestants for the Senate Presidency in the 8th Senate, Senator Bukola Saraki has faulted the passage of 46 bills in less than ten minutes.
But the Chairman, Senate Committee on Rules and Business, Senator Ita Enang has said that there was nothing wrong in legislative reciprocity as according to him, the House of Representatives followed all the necessary legislative procedures in the passage of the bills.
Senator Enang also said that the House of Representatives also concurred to the bills sent to it from the Senate, stressing that adopting legislative reciprocity had caused no injury.
“There are times you apply legislative dexterity to solve legislative problem,” he stated
Saraki, in a statement in Abuja, to mark the end of the Seventh Senate, decried the passage of 46 bills in 10 minutes.
According to him, “The new Senate must now learn and show that it has the vigour and drive to work harder through enriched deliberations to pass important bills that form the core of its agenda rather than be seen as a last minute assembly where important bills are rolled through the process in 10 minutes.’’
“My view is that it was important that we pass those laws but I have my reservations on the railroading of over 46 bills in 10 minutes. History will not be too kind to us on this count.
“This is made even a little steeper by the commentary that must follow that after another four years, the National Assembly was not able to pass such watershed bills like the PIB, the Federal Competition Bill and the NOSDRA Bill amongst many other bills that have the regulatory potential of changing the way our economy operates.”
He also faulted the poor handling of the ill-fated Nigerian Immigration Service recruitment exercise by the leadership of the Seventh Senate, expressing regret that the the senate did not act on the report of the probe instituted by the Senate on the unfortunate incident during which many young Nigerians lost their lives.
He said, “I remember sadly, the events of some of our youths who went to seek employment from government and lost their lives, needlessly, in a government arranged employment test.
“We missed at this occasion, the opportunity of that ill-fated occasion to show leadership and properly set a new standard of responsibility in the conduct and attitude of our public office-holders.”
Saraki therefore urged the incoming Eighth Senate to develop and promote a coherent national agenda which it would pursue in order to support and the direction of Nigerians and the government.
He, however, noted that the Seventh Senate had done well in a number of areas but would also have done better.
He said, “We have to tell ourselves the home truth; we have missed the cut on the level of our effectiveness, especially so with regards to amending laws that impact on the revenues and expenditures of the state, budget reforms, infrastructure financing and deployment, accountability instruments and agency laws.
“The Senate, also, has not carried its integrity far enough to secure its independence which may have emboldened the police on the 20th of November 2014 to invade the precincts of the Assembly, desecrating it in a manner never seen before within the precincts of the Assembly.
“The Seventh National Assembly allowed itself to be enmeshed in fights and political wars that only served selfish purposes and party politics with little general public good.
“The result of which was the further dilution of public perception of the Assembly and the weakening of its general influence and authority.”
The senator explained that one critical role that the parliament, all over the world is expected to play is the role of balancing power and checking that the executive is not allowed to use its overbearing influence to deny citizens their rights and limit their freedoms.
He said, “We have had several opportunities to cause the executive to implement our resolutions and ensure full implementation of budgets but never took any.
“As a policy defining institution, the Seventh Assembly did not do much to advance responsible governance.’’
In the last four years, Sarakicontinued, the Senate had had far reaching oversight investigations to secure the constitutional directives of government, protection of rights and freedoms, reduce corruption, and engender accountability in public office.
Some of the watershed moments of the last Senate, he added, included the investigation into the fuel subsidy management regime which led to the exposure of monumental corruption in the running of the regime which may have caused Nigeria over one trillion naira due to over invoicing and criminal collusion.
Saraki said, “Looking back, we can pat ourselves on the back in the way we had handled some of the thorny moments but we must also look back and agree that in certain respects we need the incoming Senate to make amends.
“Why Nigerians all over the country and beyond still question the effectiveness and efficiency of the National Assembly as a legislative body that can help deliver democratic dividend and rule of law in Nigerian today is because in their assessment, the activities of the National Assembly has not fully converged to their expectations.
“Nigerians are unanimous in pointing to the fact that the level of accountability, transparency, certainty, competitiveness, continuous improvement, efficiency, innovation, integration, evidence-based decision-making at the National Assembly still leaves much to be desired.”