ACHIEVEMENTS OF NIGERIA’S 7TH LEGISLATURE

[:en]When the 7th National Assembly in Nigeria was inaugurated on June 5, 2011, expectations were low given that about 70% of the legislators had little or no legislative experience. Four years down the line, lawmakers in the country’s bicameral legislature-the Senate and the House of Representatives, have proved pundits wrong, having recorded modest achievements.

 
The parliament passed a total of 251 bills, of which a little less than 150 were signed into law by the immediate past President, Goodluck Jonathan. Overall, a total number of 1,340 bills were introduced in both Chambers within the four year period, comprising 585 in the Senate and 755 in the House of Representatives. The bills were mainly from the Executive, Private Members and the Senate or House of Representatives.


 
Among the bills passed were the Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Bill, Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Bill, Terrorism (Prevention) Act (Amendment) Bill, Cyber Security Bill and Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act (Amendment) Bill. Others include the 1999 Constitution Alteration Bill, the 1999 Constitution 4th Alteration Bill and the National Institute for Legislative Studies Act, 2011.
 
The 7th National Assembly, which concluded its term on Thursday, 4th of June, equally considered over two hundred motions and approved concomitant resolutions. It also effectively collaborated with the Executive in the overall national interest to stabilise the polity without undermining the independence and integrity of the Legislature.
 
This was evident in the ratification of the State of Emergency proclaimed by former President Jonathan in three North-eastern States of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe, the intrinsic support given to the Executive in convocation of the National Conference in 2014, as well as the approval of a loan of one billion US Dollars for the Jonathan government to procure arms and equipment to tackle security challenges in the country.
 
The successful hosting of the 1st African Legislative Summit in 2013, at which Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu was elected Speaker of the Economic Community of West African States, Ecowas Parliament and Bethel Amadi, emerged President of the Pan African Parliament, was yet another achievement of the immediate past National Assembly.
 
There is no doubt that Nigeria’s Legislature has matured politically, as the 7th National Assembly was virtually scandal-free and stable, with the disappearance of the banana peels that were hitherto the hallmark of the Assembly. This was made apparent when despite defections by some lawmakers from the then ruling party to other political parties in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, both chambers maintained a cohesive relationship.
 
It is instructive to note that the stability enjoyed by the 7th National Assembly in Nigeria, reflected throughout the polity and guaranteed the peaceful conduct of the general election of March and April, 2015. The fact that a ruling party lost to an opposition party for the first time in the country’s democratic history, was in itself a milestone and worthy achievement.
 
In spite of these modest achievements, the 7th National Assembly will perpetually be remembered for the failure to pass the Petroleum Industry Bill. Though it was passed by the House of Representatives on the last legislative day of the four year term, it stuck like an albatross on the neck of the Senate.
 
Another sour point was the non-compliance of the Executive to most of the resolutions of the National Assembly, which was lamented by both the lawmakers and parliamentary watchers within and outside the country. The withholding of assent by former President Jonathan to the bill on the 4th Alteration of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution as passed by both the Senate and the House of Representatives, also served to sour the achievements of the 7th parliament.
 
Analysts believe that the political intrigues of the last four years slowed down important legislative business but nonetheless enriched Nigeria’s democratic understanding and the development of democratic processes.
 
As Nigeria’s 8th National Assembly settles down for day-to-day legislative business, it must hit the ground running and not wait until the last minute to pass bills that would positively impact on the lives of the people. Essentially, it must exhibit the required courage and leadership to ensure that government’s obligations to the citizenry are speedily fulfilled and honoured.
 
H.S

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