22 September 2011
With the composition of their long awaited standing committees last Thursday, the two chambers of the National Assembly - the Senate and House of Representatives - should now be ready to face their legislative business. The delay in naming the committees more than three months after the inauguration of the seventh Assembly had fuelled apprehensions over the readiness of the lawmakers to face the daunting task of making laws for the smooth running of the country.
By convention, the committees, which represent a crucial nexus in the overall legislative and oversight functions of the lawmakers, are expected to be in place within the first few weeks of the life of the legislature. But we nonetheless commend the leadership of the two houses for constituting the committees in a manner devoid of the kind of acrimony that usually attended such exercise in the past. But as it is now, the two arms of the federal legislature have already lost about ten productive weeks in this dispensation in their crucial functions of representation, lawmaking and oversights of ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of the federal government.
To be sure, the task before the seventh National Assembly is indeed enormous.
For instance, no fewer than 30 new bills are already pending before the two chambers, key among which include: the Transfer of Convicted Offenders (Enactment and Enforcement) Act (Amendment) Bill; the Indigenous Oil Companies (Regulation and Fiscal Terms) Bill National Project Monitoring Agency (Establishment, Etc) Bill; Electronic Commerce (Provision of Legal Recognition) Bill; Occupational Safety and Health Bill; the Investment and Securities Act (Amendment) Bill; Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria Act (Amendment) Bill; Nigeria International Financial Centre (Establishment) Bill and the Fiscal Responsibility Act (Amendment) Bill.
Above all, there is a compelling need for the lawmakers, as elected representatives of the people, to ensure robust, painstaking, detailed and timely legislation and oversight so that Nigerians can begin to derive the benefits of good governance. It is only by so doing that the people could really be assured that their unflinching confidence in democracy as the best form of government is not misplaced.