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Sunday, June 4, 2023

Most Citizens Don’t Understand Legislature’s Role – Speaker Gbajabiamila


Speaker of the House of Representative, Femi Gbajabiamila says, one of the peculiarities of Nigerian Democracy was that, most of the nation’s population don’t understand the legislature’s role in the country’s democratic arrangement.

Gbajabiamila stated this on Monday at a Lecture he delivered at the Second Edition of the distinguished Parliamentarian Lecture series organised by the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS), held at International Conference Centre, Abuja.

”At best, there is recognition that Parliament has a responsibility to make laws for the good governance of the nation.  However, the realities of resource availability and the imperatives of policy and politics, culture and tradition that impose limitations on parliament are not recognised and understood by most.

The Distinguished Parliamentarians’ lecture series is a worthy innovation.  It is an opportunity to provide information and context to help our fellow Nigerians better understand the democracy we practice.  Ultimately, it will help ensure political accountability based on a collective understanding of the roles and responsibilities of all of us citizens, in government and outside of it,” he explained.

On the Legislative Agenda of the 9th House of Representatives, Speaker Gbajabiamila said, when they resumed in the 9th House of Representatives, and his colleagues graciously elected him to lead, he made a commitment that the 9th House would be a reform Assembly.

He said, he envisioned a Centre of Policy Innovation and an Agent of transformation in the administration of the affairs of the Nigerian State adding that he and his colleagues recognised that keeping that promise requires a structured approach to legislative policy making.

The Speaker noted that it was in view of that vision that informed the idea of a Legislative Agenda designed for the House of Representatives, with input from stakeholders.

“I appointed a distinguished Parliamentarian and vastly experienced policy expert, Professor Julius Ihonvbere to lead a Special Committee towards the process of developing the Legislative Agenda of the 9th House.

“The committee began its assignment by engaging first with members of the House and then with people from all works of life.  They identified and articulated a set of priorities that, if addressed responsibly, will change the face of our nation, and improve the lives of millions of people.  From this effort emerged an ambitious agenda that cut across fifteen policy areas beginning with the reform of the House of Representatives,” he said.

Gbajabiamila also listed other areas of intervention in the Legislative Agenda to include National Budget Reform, National Security, Economic Growth and Job Creation, Education Reform, Gender Equity and Public Health.

He said when the Committee concluded its assignment, the draft Legislative Agenda was presented to the House of Representatives for consideration, debate, and adoption.

This was, according to him, necessary to ensure ownership of the Legislative Agenda by all members of the House of Representatives, regardless of partisan affiliation or other such considerations after which they presented the Legislative Agenda to the Nigerian people in October 2019 as a public record of their commitments to allow fellow citizens assess the House’s performance.

The Speaker recounted the Legislative Agenda Achievements of the House of Representative to include passing what he described “landmark legislation to fix Nigeria Oil and Gas Industry,” reforming the Police and reorganising the Corporate Administration System in the country.

He said they have also considered and passed meaningful legislation impacting all areas of national life which include bills such as the Police Service Commission Act (Repeal and Re-enactment) Bill, the Electric Power Sector Reform Act (Amendment) Bill, and the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contracts Act (Amendment) Bill.

They also passed bills to reform the aviation sector and clean up the nation’s airports so that these critical national assets can be properly administered to the best expectations of the Nigerian people among others.


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