Members of the ninth assembly are expected to resume legislative activities on Tuesday, after a five-week-long break. And as they gear up to resume work, there are expectations from Nigerians.
The lawmakers had on December 19 embarked on a recess to observe the Christmas holidays – right after they attended to a few urgent legislative matters.
Some notable actions taken by the Senate prior to the holiday include the passage of the 2020 budget, the Finance Bill, the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract as well as Public Procurement Act.
As the lawmakers resume legislative activities for the new year, here are a few things to expect:
1. Consideration and passage of crucial bills
Just like the Senate displayed prompt attention to some crucial bills in 2019, the same speedy consideration and passage of bills is expected in 2020.
This could be justified by comments from the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, who has, on several occasions, said the ninth Senate and the National Assembly in general is in a hurry to work for Nigerians.
Already, over 200 bills have been presented in the Senate and a few of them have scaled second reading.
Nigerians are also looking forward to the Senate’s action on some controversial bills like the Social Media Bill.
Although it has passed the second reading, Nigerians have condemned the bill and many still hope it will be ‘killed’ at the public hearing. See details of the bill here.
There is also the Hate Speech Bill – another controversial bill which many have described as a means to clamp down on the masses.
The bill has been read for the first time but many look forward to the debate, second reading as well as public hearing of the bill.
Another controversial bill is the Peace Corps Bill which was reintroduced to the Senate shortly before they went on recess. Although it has previously been rejected by President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigerians want to know the outcome of the bill now.
2. Reports from committees
Many legislations have been made in the past year – most of which were referred to the appropriate committees for further legislative actions.
Some expectations will be to see those committees present their reports, as well as know the final decision of the Senate on the said reports.
One of such is the report of the committee set up to investigate Adamawa senator, Elisha Aboo, for assaulting a woman in sex toy shop in Abuja. The report has since been submitted but is yet to be considered by the Senate.
In its defence, the Senate has said the report has not been considered because the case is in court, but, Nigerians still want to know the resolutions of the committee and the Senate as well.
Another report is the request for foreign loan of about $30 billion by the president.
The Senate had given prompt attention to this request and it was referred to its committee on Local and Foreign Debts on December 17 to report back after two weeks. The report is one of those to be considered upon resumption.
This is even as the Senate President has said the loan will be approved.
3. Open NASS
Nigerians are hoping that the Senate will release details of the National Assembly’s budget in 2020 – as they promised last year.
The Senate had, in the legislative agenda, listed transparency and openness of its budget to the public, among other things.
The chairman of the Senate committee on legislative agenda, Adamu Aliero, had said by throwing open the budget of the National Assembly, Nigerians will know that the lawmakers have nothing to hide.
Despite this promise, the lawmakers are yet to release details of their budget.
In the 2020 budget, Nigerians only know that N128 billion has been allocated to the National Assembly. Details and releases of line items remain unknown, weeks after the budget has been passed and signed.
3. Debate on critical issues
Part of the duties of the senators is to deliberate on critical or controversial issues making rounds across the country and these debates are some of the things many look forward to.
Some of the trending issues that the Senate is expected to deliberate upon include, the likely Visa ban, the security formation in the South West – Amotekun and the increasing cases of Lassa fever across the country.
Others are the recent corruption perception index by Transparency International which has ranked Nigeria worse than last year and the high rate of insecurity across the country – which includes the execution of Nigerian pastor, a student of the University of Maiduguri, among others.
In cases like these, senators present motions, points of order and even bills, after which they debate the issue and make resolutions that will better the said issue. These and more are expected from the Upper Chamber upon resumption.
4. Executive checks, balances
While the Senate enjoys the cordial relationship with the executive, it is hoped that the lawmakers will be able to check some actions of the executive – with particular attention to impunity.
Many have criticised the National Assembly for not properly cautioning the executive when things go wrong. Many even believe that this ninth Senate and the entire National Assembly is ‘rubber stamp’.
Although, the Senate is filled with loyalists of the President, it is hoped that they will be able to properly check the excesses of the executive.