Constitution Review: Senate President Wants Gov. El-Rufai to Prevail Over Governors

Paschal Emeka, Abuja

The President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan has disclosed how he lobbied the Kaduna State governor, Malam Nasir el-Rufai to prevail on his colleagues to encourage their respective state houses of assembly to transmit back to the National Assembly their responses on the bills sent to them on the Constitution amendment.

Recall that the National Assembly in March 2022 passed 44 bills to amend some key provisions of the 1999 Constitution and transmitted them to the 36 states for their endorsement or otherwise as part of the constitutional amendment process.

The process requires the approval of not less than two-thirds of the 36 state houses of assembly for any of the bills to sail through but far less than half of the 36 states were believed to have so far transmitted their responses back to the National Assembly.

The Senate President stated this while declaring open the Distinguished Parliamentarians Lecture 2022 which was organized by the National Institute of Legislative and Democratic Studies(NILDS).

The lecture was delivered by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila.

Lawan told Governor El-Rufai who chaired the occasion: “We will ask you to lobby for us. We have sent (to the states) the outcome of our constitution review and we are yet to receive all from the states.

“So, we should be able to wind up this process by getting responses from the state houses of assembly. Even if it is one month left, we have the capacity, to work together, to ensure that we pass some of the legislation that is required in a very expeditious manner. Lobby your governor colleagues because I can see that you do that very well.”

Lawan said the lecture was one of the laudable initiatives of NILDS geared towards bridging the gap between the electorates and their elected representatives.

He said: “It is also an avenue for us, the parliament to tell our stories to the wider audience, to change the misperception and misinformation in the public domain.

“No doubt, the legislature which is the fulcrum of democracy worldwide has been misunderstood, some for mischievous purposes and at times owing to its underdeveloped stature historically.

“It is in lieu of this that the First Parliamentarians lecture which I delivered last year gave a lucid narration of such misplaced perception of the 9th Assembly under my leadership.

“Today’s 2nd series of the Distinguished Parliamentarians Lecture attempt a critical assessment of the House of Representatives within the context of its agenda, this is because the importance of the House of Representatives in the annals of Nigeria’s political and legal evolution cannot be overemphasized.

“The House of Representatives is that vigilant younger brother who ensures that its swaggering elder brother, the Senate, stays on course.

“The role of the House of Representatives is even more critical when analyzed viz-a-viz the executive branch of government. Since Nigeria’s cherished return to democratic rule in 1999, the House of Representatives, alongside the Senate, has steered the wheels of public policy, public discourse, rulemaking, and checks and balances.

“Tellingly, the 9th National Assembly (including the 9th House of Representatives) has passed some of the most ground-breaking and significant legislations in the history of parliamentarians in Sub-Sahara Africa.

“To mention but a few, the Companies and Allied Matters Act, which was passed in 2020, has revolutionized Nigeria’s corporate world and fostered the ease-of-doing-business agenda of the federal government of Nigeria.

“The Petroleum Industry Act, which was passed in 2021, is a watershed enactment that stipulates new principles, new regulatory regimes, and new governance frameworks for the realization of the full promise of Nigeria’s hydrocarbon potential.”

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