• Thursday, April 18, 2024
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Reps to prioritize PIGB, Electoral Act amendment in second legislative year

National Assembly to further empower SEC to sanction unregistered schemes, others

The House of Representatives has assured Nigerians that it would accord priority to the Petroleum Industrial Governance Bill (PIGB) and Electoral Act amendment Bills in its second legislative year.

Both Bills were passed by the 8th Assembly but were rejected by President Muhammadu Buhari who withheld his assent and the 9th Assembly, particularly the House of Representatives in its first year promised to revisit them but could not till the end of the first legislative session.

Speaking with journalists covering the Green Chamber, House Spokesperson, Benjamin Kalu assured that the laws would be on the front burner in the second legislative session.

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Kalu said: “PIB and the Electoral Act, these are the things that are going to be on the front burner so be patient with us. We are still working round to see how these laws have done while respecting the COVID-19 protocols.

“Are we conscious of amending the Electoral Act? The answer is yes. Should it be prioritized now? The answer is yes and the reasons being that we have bye-elections, we have Edo and Osun governorship elections and we have the ones that are coming so we don’t have to wait till it is too late before we start running around”.

The Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs also warned members of President Buhari cabinet to desist from any act that is capable of souring the hard-earned harmonious relationship between the Executive and Legislative arms of government.

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Kalu spoke on the backdrop of the recent misunderstanding between the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, and members of the joint Senate and House Committee on Labour and Productivity.

The Abia lawmaker who commended Buhari’s efforts toward a cordial relationship with the legislature, however, decried the unwholesome attitudes of some members of the President’s cabinet for failing to accept the powers conferred on the National Assembly to oversight both the Executive and Judiciary arms of government.

“The President as the head of the Executive arm of government works so hard to achieve this robust relationship between the two arms of government, knowing what he suffered in his first tenure. He works so hard to make sure that the abuse will reduce not that an act of checks and balances will not be there but the more you less the rancour the more the respect for each other.

“And that will help the government to grow and the nation also would be built. But it appears like those who are under the President cannot read the body language of Mr President who himself appears before the National Assembly and appears humbly, bows with all respect to the members of the House; sits until he is discharged. The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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“When someone at that level understands governance the team players with him, the cabinet members some of them are as if are learning the craft to understand. And there is a great difference between being an activist and running the government.

“And it is important for us to understand that in governance tolerance is that law. It is important to understand that in leadership patience and humility are important. So let us try as arms of government to sustain this harmony that is helping in our nation-building. Anything less than that may affect the smooth running of our government,” he said.

While responding to question on the position of the controversies trailing the Control of Infectious Diseases Bill, Kalu noted that the Court has no right to stop the House and indeed National Assembly from conducting the public hearing as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

“Does the court has such right? We are three arms of government. Nobody, no arm of government considering the doctrine of separation of powers has the right to stop us in the course of the exercise of our constitutional mandate. No arm of government, neither the Executive nor the Judiciary.

“And the Constitution says that the legislative arm is separate, we can only regulate ourselves nobody can regulate us. You don’t come and tell us how to run it. We can tell you, what you are doing is not right because we oversight you, we are the watchdog.

“But no arm can come and tell us while we are doing our business. You wait for us to finish, if you feel what we have done is not good, you can go to court and contest it.

“And based on middle ground, a bill might be reviewed but not while we are in the process of doing it. In short, you know the judgment of the Supreme Court recently on Dino Melaye on this issue.

“You find out that, that judgment is now a locus cuscus case that while doing our job, you can’t come and interfere, wait for us to finish. So we knew because we make laws that those people who go to Court are making mistakes. So we continued with what we are doing knowing fully well that no order says we should stop,” Kalu added.