The House of Representatives today, June 15, 2021 published the achievements of the last two years of the 9th Assembly.
Recall that June 11, 2021 made it two years, the 9th House resumed its duties. This release was made by the spokesperson of the House, Rep. Benjamin Kalu.
The release encapsulates the journey of the house in the last two years highlighting the achievements in security, bills, motions, petitions, COVID-19 and other Interventions, Public partnership and transparency, E-parliament and also challenges of the House.
Conclusively, the House also stated the outlook of the activities for the next two sessions. Adding that,
‘As the people’s parliament, the House will continue to seek out informed engagement and constructive partnership as it works to implement the policy objectives set out in the new legislative agenda.
June 15, 2021
THE JOURNEY OF THE 9TH HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES AT TWO
(An Up-To-Date Report on the Activities of the House by The Spokesperson)
About two years ago, your elected representatives were sworn into the 9th House of Representatives. Having assumed office under the ethos of Nation Building: A Joint Task, we immediately set to work to return the polity to a system of checks and balances that thrived in an environment of mutual respect and harmony of government.
As we mark our second year in service, it is in the spirit of transparency, openness, partnership, and a sense of responsibility to the public that we render a summarized report of our activities in the past year.
Guided by a legislative agenda, we immediately set to work addressing critical issues in healthcare delivery; education; economy; security; agriculture and food security; sustainable power; environment and climate change; human capital development and social development; governance; House reforms; and National budget reform using all the legislative tools of intervention at our disposal.
Given the current security challenges faced by our nation, insecurity remains a key metric to analysing our performance as a legislative assembly, and one which we take with all seriousness. Whereas banditry, herdsmen crises, kidnapping, and killings have spread through all geopolitical zones in Nigeria in the last two years, we have continued to support the executive and security agencies in the fight against insecurity. We have also held them accountable to the Nigerian people where necessary, ensuring that they are constantly challenged to the highest standards of delivery.
From 2019 till date, a total of 98 resolutions have been passed by the House on insecurity in Nigeria. Beyond this, the leadership of the House as well as various standing and special committees have undertaken on-the-spot assessments of crises areas around the country including the hotspots of Borno, Katsina, and Zamfara.
In a culmination of concern about killings and other criminal activities in the country in 2020, the House invited the President to address members on the security situation in Nigeria. While the President’s willingness to address the members was thwarted at the last minute, the concerns of the House prevailed on the executive to change the service chiefs as an added strategy in the fight against insecurity.
The House has also severally engaged the National Security Adviser (NSA); the service chiefs; paramilitary chiefs; the Controller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service; and the Managing Director of Nigeria Communications Satellite (NIGCOMSAT) in sessions to address insecurity.
In a “Special Summit on National Security” organized by the House from May 26 to 29, 2021, the House engaged stakeholders in a deep dive into Nigeria’s security situation. This interaction produced strong recommendations that were forwarded to the President for implementation.
Beyond motions, the House has also taken concrete steps to legislate on security issues. On June 9, the House introduced nine (9) new security bills to the floor. The bills are the Armed Forces Act (Amendment) Bill, 2021 (HB. 1405); Police Act (Amendment) Bill, 2021 (HB. 1406); Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps Act, 2003 (Amendment) Bill, 2021 (HB. 1407); Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps Act, 2007 (Amendment) Bill, 2021 (HB. 1408); Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act (Amendment) Bill, 2021; Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission Act (Amendment) Bill, 2021 (HB. 1410); Customs and Excise Management Act (Amendment) Bill, 2021 (HB. 1411); ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms, Light Weapons and Ammunition (Ratification and Enforcement) Bill, 2021 (HB. 1413); and National Security Agencies Act (Amendment) Bill, 2021 (HB. 1415).
Finally, in a series of actions to promote police reform, the House passed the revised Police Act 2020 and the Police Service Commission Reform Bill, 2020.
A comparative analysis of the 9th House and previous assemblies, reveals that this House has performed better in bill consideration and passage. As of June 10, 2021, the House had considered 853 bills, out of which 41 were passed, 66 were awaiting action by the Committee of the Whole, and 105 had passed second reading. Some of the notable bills passed so far include the Electric Power Sector Reform Act (Amendment) Bill; the Physically Challenged (Empowerment) Bill; National Orientation Agency Act (Amendment) Bill; Labour Act (Amendment) Bill; Finance Bill; Students Loan (Access to Higher Education) Bill; Federal Roads Bill, 2019; Public Procurement Act (Amendment) Bill; the Company and Allied Matters Bill assented to by the President; the Finance Bill, 2020; the Deep Offshore Bill; and the Emergency Economic Stimulus Bill, 2020.
Petroleum Industry Bill
The House has also made significant progress in the consideration of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) which passed second reading after a thorough debate in November 2020. Presently, the House is set to receive the report of the ad-hoc committee on PIB after which the bill will proceed to passage in line with the commitments of the House.
Substantial progress has also been made in the consideration of the much-anticipated Electoral Act (amendment) Bill which addresses reform issues like electronic voting and funding of political parties. The report of the relevant committee is currently before the House as the bill awaits passage.
A review of the 1999 Constitution is ongoing with the zonal public hearing taking place across the six geopolitical zones in the country.
Appropriation and budget reforms
Further to its promise on national budget reforms, the Appropriation Bill was passed in time to return the national budget to a January-December budget cycle. The House has since then, maintained this as a standard in budget consideration.
So far, the House has considered a total of 730 motions. 484 were taken in the first session and 246 considered in the second session. Several of the motions considered by the House, were products of diligently conducted needs analysis to reflect the will of the people, exercise its oversight responsibilities as stipulated in Sections 88 and 89 of the 1999 Constitution, and address front-burner issues in the nation.
98 of the resolutions have addressed various challenges in insecurity while others have addressed other socio-economic issues and performance issues by the executive.
The House has received a total of 163 petitions all of which were referred to the Committee on Public Petitions for consideration.
The last year was marred by the deadly coronavirus pandemic which challenged all assumptions in governance and economic projections, revealing gaps in the system that required innovation and resilience to address.
The House swung into action to complement the efforts of the executive in the fight against coronavirus. Individually, members of the House on March 31, 2020, donated two months of their salaries to the covid-19 fund, and engaged in extensive sensitization of their constituents on public health and safety protocols, while personally donating palliatives and PPEs for indigent people in their various constituencies across Nigeria.
Collectively, the House;
1. Prevailed on the Federal Government to evacuate, return and quarantine
Nigerians stranded overseas due to Covid-19 travel restrictions;
2. Directed the Federal Ministry of Education to convert available Federal Government properties across the country for use as emergency care centres and isolation units by the Federal Ministry of Health and the National Centre
for Disease Control (NCDC);
3. Passed the first Emergency Economic Stimulus Bill in a bid to mitigate the
adverse economic effects of the pandemic on Nigerians;
4. Prevailed on the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and
Social Development to improve the implementation of the National Social Investment Programs (NSIPs), the National Conditional Cash Transfer Programme, and update the National Social Register (NSR), to ensure that all
social programmes are more impactful, particularly as we struggle to recover
from the economic impacts of Covid-19; and
5. Sought a 2-month electricity tariff reprieve for Nigerians through the second
Emergency Economic Stimulus Bill to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19
6. Gave legislative backing to the executive that ensured Nigeria received its first
4 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine earlier in 2021.
However, beyond legislative duties, the House has visibly identified with the common Nigerian worker, intervening where necessary, to ensure a sustainable balance between the interests of employees and employers of labour.
• On October 5, 2019, the House identifying with Nigerian teachers, called for better welfare packages for teachers.
• On December 12, 2019, the House intervened in a strike action to ensure the implementation of the agreement between the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE), the Bureau of Public Enterprises, and the Federal Ministry of Power.
• On March 12, 2020, following interventions by the leadership of the House, the national leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) promised to review its ongoing two weeks warning strike action.
• On March 17, 2020, the House again intervened to avert industrial action by medical doctors in the FCT in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, making sure to lend its voice to the calls for hazard allowance for medical personnel in the front lines of the fight against coronavirus.
• In September 2020, the House intervened in the strike threat by the Nigerian Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress over the increase in the pump price of petrol and electricity tariffs.
• On April 29, 2021, the Speaker summoned a meeting of officials from the Federal Ministry of Health, Federal Ministry of Finance, Federal Ministry of Labour, the Budget Office of the Federation, Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN), Committee of Chief Medical Directors (CMDs), among others, to discuss the six demands of the striking National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) and elicited far-reaching commitments to address them.
Power Sector Reforms:
In addition to the passage of a bill seeking to end estimated billing, the House has continued to challenge efforts by the DiScos to increase electricity tariffs given the economic hardship currently faced by Nigerians struggling to recover from the worst effects of the coronavirus pandemic. On May 20, 2021, the House prevailed on the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to suspend a fresh increase in electricity tariff proposed to take off on June 1.
Welfare of Nigerians in Diaspora
Over the past year, and in true commitment to section 14 of the 1999 Constitution, the House has also intervened in matters concerning the safety and welfare of Nigerians;
• On September 6, 2019, the House called for calm following xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa, while seeking compensation for Nigerians; and
• On April 10, 2020, the House demanded an end to the inhuman treatment of Nigerians in China at a meeting between the leadership of the House and the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Zhou Pinguan.
Nigeria/Ghana relations/foreign policy review
In an innovative demonstration of legislative diplomacy in 2020, the Speaker and Leadership of the House intervened in the diplomatic crises that ensued with the demolition of the premises of the Nigerian Embassy in Ghana as well as the controversial $1million capital base requirement for foreign business owners in Ghana which affected several Nigerian businesses. Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila visited and held bilateral talks with Ghanaian authorities on a mission dubbed “Legislative Diplomacy.” His with Ghana President Nana Akufo Addo and the Speaker of Ghana’s parliament, Mike Oquaye, over the dispute elicited a promise by Ghanaian authorities to review the protectionist policy.
In 2020, the Speaker led fellow Speakers in Africa in a push for debt cancellation for the continent.
Recently, the federal government’s controversial decision to ban microblogging site, Twitter for alleged plans to disintegrate the country caused an uproar that moved the
House to immediately mandate a joint committee to investigate the circumstances of the government’s decision.
PUBLIC PARTNERSHIP AND TRANSPARENCY
A key part of the legislative agenda of the House is to reduce the opaqueness of the legislature to ensure that Nigerians are stakeholders and partners in progress. The following actions have been taken in this regard;
• The House, through the Committee on Media and Public Affairs, on February 19, 2020, launched the Green Chamber Magazine, a publication that has allowed Nigerians first-hand access to the activities of the House.
• In November 2020, the House commenced the 9th House Sectoral Roundtable Sessions (9th House SRS), a regular participatory policy engagement with stakeholders of various socio-economic sectors.
• The House held a policy dialogue series on “Policing and Human Rights in Nigeria.”
In 2020, the House launched the eParliament platform for legislative work; a development by which members can now access documents in e-format and can also participate in other House activities digitally.
The past year has not been without its fair share of challenges as we recall with sadness, the passing of our colleagues, Rep. Fagen Gawo, Rep. Jafaru Iliyasu Auna, Rep. Ossy Prestige, Rep. Suleiman Aliyu, and Rep. Haruna Maitala of blessed memory.
The precautions put in place due to the covid-19 pandemic slowed the activities of the House and its committees as it became necessary to reduce the number of plenary sessions per week as well as other legislative activities requiring prolonged physical interactions.
We also acknowledge the challenge of slow implementation of House resolutions by the executive and expect that the executive will do better in honouring the resolutions of the House as they reflect the voice of Nigerians.
OUTLOOK FOR THE NEXT TWO SESSIONS
In this third legislative session commencing from June 2021 and ending in June 2022, the House will consolidate on the gains of the previous session and intensify its activities. Guided by proper checks and balances, the House will support the government to stabilize the economy and arrest insecurity.
It is expected that as Nigeria and the rest of the world emerge from the socio- economic effects of Covid-19, thanks to the vaccine, legislative activities will start to the peak without the constraints of covid-19 protocols and social distancing. Pending legislations like the PIB and Electoral Act (amendment) Bill will receive speedy consideration and passage, and the House will continue to legislate for the good of the nation.
As the people’s parliament, the House will continue to seek out informed engagement and constructive partnership as it works to implement the policy objectives set out in the new legislative agenda.
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Rep. Benjamin Okezie Kalu
Spokesperson, House of Representatives