16 Years of Law Making 4th -7th National Assembly: An analysis of Bills Processed

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Volume: Volume 4 | Pages: 253 | Year Published: 0000

Publisher: National Institute for Legislative Studies

Author: Prof. Ladi Hamalai | Dr. Jake Dan-Azumi | Terfa Gbahabo |

Subject Matter
"16 Years of Law Making 4th -7th National Assembly: An analysis of Bills Processed" delivers a detailed account of the law making activities of the National Assembly spanning 16 years. This publication is an excellent resource to students, educators, legislators, policy makers and any person who seeks information on the workings of the legislature with specific regard to its law making function

Purpose/Objective
The objective of the book is to bring to fore one of the core function of the National Institute for Legislative Studies which is to act as a world class institute for research and publication on legislative practice and procedure. The book under review accomplishes this task by showing the detailed progression of the bill making process by both Houses of the National Assembly from 1999-2015. The reader is taken on a journey through the world of the legislature with specific regard to law making, through its perceived short comings, successes, issues of concern and challenges, while also making comparisons with the Bill making process in other jurisdictions, such as Kenya, South Africa and USA. The tone of the study reflects a learned appreciation for the very important and difficult task given to the Legislature to make laws for the peace, order and good governance of the Federation. It is imperative to note that by virtue of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended, the National Assembly is tasked with three major functions, that is, law making, oversight and representation. Specifically section 4(2) empowers the National Assembly to make laws; thus recognizing the importance of law making function of the National Assembly. The Policy Analysis and Research Project, the predecessor of the National Institute for Legislative studies undertook in 2010, an assessment of 10 years or lawmaking in the National Assembly and published a book titled "10 years of Lawmaking in the National Assembly, 1999-2009: An analysis of Bills Processed." This publication was followed by "12 years of Lawmaking (4th - 6th National Assembly): An analysis of Bills Processed", Vol. 2. This represented an update of the aforementioned publication; both publications attempted to document the level of activity on the law making function of the National Assembly in an analytical manner. This was followed by the publication of "14 years of Lawmaking in the National Assembly, 1999-2013: An analysis of Bills Processed", Vol. 3; this updated the information in volume 2 by two legislative years. Finally the publication under review titled "16 Years of Law Making 4th -7th National Assembly: An analysis of Bills Processed," Vol 4 updated the information in volume 3 by two legislative years up to mid-2015. These aforementioned publications contain ample information on the law making activities of both houses of the National Assembly. Thus the book is divided into Seven Chapters as follows

Gaps Identified
The book covers in detail 16 years of law making in Nigeria, however there are some gaps identified, for instance, provisions were made for petitions considered by the House of Representatives, but petitions considered by the Senate was not provided. The powers of the State House of Assembly to make law is provided by section 4(7) of the Constitution, and not section 7 as stated in the book; the Constitution was also wrongly cited. In addition, subhead 3.2 providing for "output of bills in the House, June 2009-May 2013" does not match the body; the body provides for June 2009-May 2015. The book does not contain the date or year of publication. Notably, the overall credibility of the content of the study does not suffer due to these gaps and errors.

Recommendations
Thus, recommendations are proffered to ensure the publication of Vol. 5 of the series at the end of this current assembly (8th Assembly), to ensure that the level of activity of the law making function of the National Assembly is constantly updated, and to correct the error identified in the updated volume. It is also recommended to provide year of publication; and to provide a general name for the series in addition to the volume numbers, as opposed to only identifying the publication by volume numbers. This is for clarity in citing the publications

Reviewer: Chinedu Ikpeazu

Rank: Research Officer

Department: Legislative Support Services/ Bills and Legislative Drafting

Date Of Commencement: June 5, 2018

Date Of Completion: June 13, 2018

Chapter One
Chapter One introduces the book, opening with a brief introduction of the constitutional responsibility vested in the National Assembly and the State Houses of Assembly, as provided by sections 4(2) and 58 in the case of the National Assembly and sections 4(7) and 100 in the case of the State Houses of Assembly. It progresses through defining the concept of a bill, sources and types of bills, and the procedure for passing a bill at the National Assembly. This format adopted by the author spotlights the key phases from the initiation of a proposal to draft a bill by the executive, legislature, interest groups/associations and the judiciary to the president's or Governor's Assent as the case may be

Chapter Two
Chapter Two discusses Bills processing in the Senate. The chapter identifies that sixteen years into the resumed democratic governance in Nigeria, the country has continued to grapple with serious issues in the economic, political, social and cultural spheres; thus under the circumstances, the National Assembly has tended to be very active legislating not only for the peace, order and good governance of Nigeria but also for the much desired economic and social development of the country. The chapter discusses the activities of the Senate in relation Bills, its processes and passage; accordingly, the bill processing in the Senate from 1999-2015 is discussed in detail, the author determines that the Senate has gradually developed capacity and acquired confidence in initiating and processing bills; and that there has been a significant growth in the number of bills received in the Senate, for instance 162 in 2012/2013 and 197 in 2013/2014 compared to only 39 in 1999/2000 when most of the legislators had little or no experience on the job. The chapter provides detailed information on classification of total bills passed in the senate by sponsorship from June 2009 to June 2015; output of bills in the senate in the same time period and their status; Bills passed in the Senate; gestation periods for the passage of bills; objectives of the bills passed by the Senate as well as Motions considered by the Senate. All the aforementioned subheads were discussed from June 2009 to June 2015

Chapter three
Chapter three provides detailed information on the bills processing in the House of Representatives. The author points out that as a result of the large number of members of the House, i.e. 360 members as opposed to 109 Senators, it is expected that the House will have a higher level of activity, but the data on bills related activities in the House show that the House has only a slightly higher level of activity than the Senate, with regards to the number of bills introduced on the floor of the House. particularly, the chapter provides detailed and tabular information on the overview of bills processing in the House from 1999 -2015; output of Bills in the House from June 2009 - May 2013; Summary of status of bills received and considered in the House from June 1999. June 4th 2015; Output of Bills in the House, June 2009 - May 2013; Bills passed in the House; gestation periods of Bills passed in the House; Classification of House bills by objectives; Classification of bills passed by the House by objectives; Objectives of the bills passed in the House; petitions considered by the House (this is not a law making function; receiving petitions is an oversight instrument utilized by the legislature to resolve grievances laid before it); and motions considered by the House. All the aforementioned subheads were discussed from June 2009 to June 2015

Chapter Four
Chapter Four discusses Acts enacted by the National Assembly. Consequent upon the detailed analysis of the bills processing in the Senate and House of Representatives, the chapter examined, Bills that ended up as Acts of the National Assembly; and notes that based on available information, 1005 bills were passed by both Houses of the National Assembly from June 1999 to May 2015, and 244 were assented to by the President

Chapter Five
Chapter Five discusses the significance of Bills and Acts. The chapter examines the potentials for positive impacts of the Bills and the concerns expressed about some of them. Thus bills are categorized according to focus or objectives in order to determine its significance on issues in various spheres of the Country; notably, the essence of a bill may traverse more than one category, nevertheless, the chapter adopted the category as follows: Economic development, Social development, Political development, Institutional development and Cultural development. Specific bills and Acts such as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act and the Public Procurement Act, etc. were analyzed; and it revealed their unparalleled significance and potentials for positive impacts on the socio-economic development of the country. This analysis also revealed some concerns about some bills and Acts, specifically irrelevancy of some bills, the time wasted in the passage of bills, as well as the loss of economic opportunities resulting from non-passage of bill, especially bills with very vital subject matter; the Petroleum Industry Bill was used as an example. In conclusion, the chapter notes that the point that cannot be overemphasized is the need not only to have but also to expedite actions on Bills that will make meaningful impact on the living conditions of Nigerians, and the growth and development of the country; as such bills must be assessed on the basis of their relevance and potential impact on the target beneficiaries

Chapter Six
Chapter Six provides for a comparative perspective in Bill processing activities. The chapter assesses the performance of the National Assembly within the global context using information from other Jurisdictions with a view determine how the Nigerian Legislature fares in comparison with other Legislatures both within and outside the continent, i.e. Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa and the United States. The chapter notes that the Nigerian legislature compares favorably with compared legislatures in law making activities; however the National Assembly must strengthen its capacity to ensure the transformation of a plethora of passed bills into Laws.

Chapter Seven
Chapter Seven discusses some issues of concern, challenges and conclusion. The chapter notes that obviously, at the inception of the fourth assembly, after many years of military rule and erosion of the democratic culture, many issues of concern and challenges surfaced, one of which was the very limited capacity of the legislators to carry out their legislative functions, however overtime, as a result of concerted efforts, these challenges are continually being addressed to ensure a thriving democratic culture in Nigeria. Thus, the chapter highlights in detail some issues of concern and challenges facing the National Assembly, including but not limited to lack of quality of bills sponsored by legislators, lack of capacity by some legislators to engage with bills, lack of presidential assent on passed bills, concurrence requirement of bills, high rate of turnover of legislators, plethora of bills not processed when the lifespan of the Assembly ends, lack of knowledge of ICT by legislators and delay in enacting vital bills. In conclusion, the authors note that Nigeria is a country which is still striving to eliminate the features of underdevelopment, consequently there are many issues of concern attributable to all three arms of government. In particular, the legislature should not only legislate on issues of peace, order and good governance but also on direct issues of Social and Economic development. In general, the chapters are filled with detailed tables and graphs for further illustration and to provide the reader with an in-depth analysis of various aspects of the bills processing in both Houses of the National Assembly, to aid the reader to better understand the details in the main text. The book contains 9 items in the annexures namely, second schedule of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (Promulgation) 1999, No. 24; the Senate and House Committees in the National Assembly, June 2011-June 4, 2015; list of bills passed by the senate, 1999-2015; list of bills passed by the House of Representatives, 1999-2015; list of bills assented to June 1999 - May 2015; list of reports of the petitions receives and considered by the House of Representatives, June 2007- June 2015; list of motions proposed in the senate, 2009-2015; list of motions proposed in the House of Representatives, 2007- 2015; and list of motions not resolved by the House of Representatives, June 2007 - June 4, 2015