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10th House: Doing things differently in 12 months

Since its inauguration on June 13, 2023, the 10th House of Representatives, under the leadership of Speaker Abbas Tajudeen, has taken the bull by the…

Since its inauguration on June 13, 2023, the 10th House of Representatives, under the leadership of Speaker Abbas Tajudeen, has taken the bull by the horn in tackling the daunting tasks before it. Comprising members knowledgeable in diverse endeavours, the Green Chamber has lived up to the bill of making laws for the good governance of Nigeria.

In taking stock of the activities of the House in one year, Speaker Abbas Tajudeen, working in sync with his colleagues, presented to Nigerians, a historic scorecard titled ‘One Year in the People’s House: Performance Report of the First Session of the Tenth House of Representatives of the Fourth Republic, Federal Republic of Nigeria.’

It was made public on Wednesday, July 3, 2024, during the Open Week of the Green Chamber.

At the event, Speaker Abbas Tajudeen underscored how his leadership ensured an inclusive and participatory legislature in the past one year. He noted that the 10th House had been committed to running an open parliament that actively incorporates citizens’ input in lawmaking and oversight processes.

To demonstrate its staidness, the House came up with an 8-point Legislative Agenda, complementing the Renewed Hope Agenda of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu. The thematic areas of the Legislative Agenda are: strengthening good governance; improving national security; law reform; economic growth and development; social sector reform and development; inclusion and open parliament; influencing/directing Nigeria’s foreign policy, and climate change and environmental sustainability.

The Speaker unveiled the Legislative Agenda on November 14, 2023.

On lawmaking, as at June 13, 2024, 1,351 bills were introduced on the floor of the House, the highest ever introduced in the first session of the House since 1999. Out of these, 1,339 bills (99%) were sponsored by members of the House, while 12 bills (1%) were brought by the executive arm.

The statistics further shows that 112 bills were referred to the various standing committees for legislative action, out of which 89 were passed.

Eighty of the bills passed were sponsored by members of the House, while 9 were Executive Bills. Currently, there are 1,068 bills awaiting Second Reading and 81 bills awaiting consideration by the House. Only one bill was negatived — rejected — in one year.

To kickstart the constitution amendment process in good time, the committee, chaired by Deputy Speaker Benjamin Okezie Kalu, took off in earnest. It organised citizens’ engagement sessions in February 2024, less than 9 months into the life of the 10th House.

The committee collated inputs from Nigerians into the constitution amendment process and has since established a timeline of activities, setting a deadline of December 2025 for concrete outcomes.

On motions and resolutions, which fall under representation, the House also made significant strides. The House received a total of 679 motions in one year, out of which 629 (93%) were referred to different standing committees, while 43 were referred to ad hoc committees. Seven motions were negatived.

The House also serves as an ombudsman to Nigerians through its Public Petitions Committee, which handles such matters after receiving referrals from the House. From June 13, 2023 to June 13, 2024, the House received 306 petitions and considered 30 of them. Reports on 15 petitions were laid on the floor of the House, while five were resolved.

More than ever before, the 10th House has upped citizens’ engagements, ensuring that Nigerians are provided the opportunity to partake in the decision-making process of the Green Chamber. Some examples will suffice. In developing its Legislative Agenda, the House held a town hall meeting, where it engaged the citizens and ensured it incorporated their inputs into the document. Second, the House organised another town hall meeting in response to the concerns raised by citizens on the credibility of the country’s electoral processes. Inputs from the citizens are expected to form part of the ongoing amendment to the Electoral Act, 2022.

Arguably, the most important bill in the life of any Assembly is the Appropriation Bill, without which government activities will come to a halt. Thus, to strengthen the budget process, the House, through the Committee on Appropriations, chaired by Abubakar Kabir Bichi, held a budget town hall meeting in November 2023, where the chairman noted that, “This Town Hall is important in promoting the integrity of the budgeting process.”

The 10th House also instituted strong oversight mechanisms by receiving briefs from ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) through the relevant standing committees, oversight visits and inspections to MDAs and projects, public and investigative hearings, public petitions and interactive meetings, etc.

Again, the House held sectoral debates, where it received briefings at plenary from security chiefs, ministers of finance, agriculture, among others, as well as the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

For the first time in the history of the Nigerian legislature, the House introduced the use of sign language in the chamber, where experts are engaged to interpret plenary proceedings to those hard of hearing. The Speaker also established the Programmes Coordinating Unit under his office, which increased interface with civil societies.

Furthermore, in the past year, the House has established and fostered a harmonious working relationship with the two other arms of government, especially the executive, engendering mutual respect and collaboration that works for all. Eventually, it brings political stability that benefits the citizens.

Despite the successes recorded in its first session, the House also encountered some challenges,  including high turnover rate that created capacity gaps; House chambers repairs, which disrupted legislative activities; economic downturn and funding, leading to inadequate funding of House activities; elevated public expectations, etc.

It is safe, therefore, to say that the 10th House of Representatives has indeed done things differently in the past one year.

 

Krishi is the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the Speaker, House of Representatives.

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