A former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof Attahiru Jega, on Friday said President Muhammadu Buhari gave assent to only five bills out of the 515 legislation by the 8th National Assembly.
The former INEC chairman stated this while reading the executive summary of the report on the scorecard of the 8th National Assembly and lessons for the 9th National Assembly.
The report titled, ‘Scorecard of the 8th National Assembly: Report of a performance assessment of the 8th National Assembly in Nigeria’s 4th Republic’, was presented to the public and stakeholders in Abuja.
The report, which Jega was the lead researcher, was organised by YIAGA Africa Centre for Legislative Engagement with support from the European Union.
Jega said, “In terms of gestation period, some of these bills took long to be passed. Ideally, a bill should, averagely, take less than six months to pass. But out of the 515 bills passed in the 8th National Assembly, only 47 (9.1 per cent) were passed within 50 days, while a whopping 271 (52.6 per cent) took over 351 days.
“Furthermore, 14 bills were passed within 100 days, 12 within 150 days, 80 within 200 days, 41 within 250 days, 23 within 300 days and 27 within 350 days. Notably, most of the bills passed within 50 days were either executive bills or, of emergency nature.”
According to Jega, the findings of the study are remarkable and revealing because with respect to legislation, there is a significant increase in the number of bills handled by the 8th National Assembly.
He added, “Specifically, 2,166 bills were introduced, out of which 515 pieces of legislation were passed, including 21 constitution-alteration bills, five of which received presidential assent.
“The Senate passed a total of 172 bills while the House of Representatives passed 343 bills within the same period. Some of these bills could be regarded as landmark or significant for the widespread interest they generated, high media attention, pertinent issues they addressed and overall high perception of their potential impacts.
“Such bills include the North East Development Commission Bill and Not Too Young to Run Bill, among others. Of all those bills, 53 were declined presidential assent and only about 80 (15.5 per cent) received assent although several bills were still awaiting assent at the time of study. However, data on the number of bills transmitted to the President for assent were not available. Over the same period, 15 bills were withdrawn while 33 were negative – killed.”
Among other recommendations, the report said the National Assembly should adopt electronic voting on bills and motions.
“The National Assembly should adopt electronic voting on bills and motions. Voting records should be available to members of the public on all NASS online and offline channels.
“It is important for the National Assembly to maintain an updated open and accessible Bills Progression Chart to enable legislators, legislative aides and other stakeholders track or monitor progress of bills’ passage. The National Assembly should maintain an accessible database of assented and gazetted legislations passed by the legislature.
“Prevailing high rate of legislative turnover in successive elections affects the quality of representation. Political parties, senatorial districts and federal constituencies should promote continuity of representatives who perform well,” the report recommended, among others.
Jega said the findings were mostly in tandem with public perceptions derived from survey questionnaires.