Buhari DISREGARDS 85 Bills Passed By National Assembly In Three Years


The administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has in the last three years, failed to take definitive action on 85 bills passed by the national assembly, neither assenting nor vetoing these legislations.
This represents billions of naira in taxpayers’ funds, expended by the legislature over the past three years in which they worked on these legislations.
Many of the bills had been touted to have far-reaching socio-economic consequences as the economy struggles to grow but the president, and his handlers appear to have a different perspective.
The latest addition to the list of bills declined assent by the president is the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB), which for 17 years in the making, was anticipated by industry watchers to bring some sanity into the petroleum industry.
Stakeholders tell News Agency  that the frosty relationship between the National Assembly and the Presidency appears to be taking precedence over the need to get the economy working, and signing legislations into law to make the country more attractive to investors.
Just like the PIGB, if the 85 bills yet to be attended to by the Buhari administration are not signed before the end of this tenure, all the work done on them so far would have been wasted, and the next government will have to start afresh on the bills.
News Agency  investigations show that from 2015 till date, 228 bills have been passed by the Senate,
comprising Senate bills, concurrence bills, and constitutional alteration bills. The House of Representatives and Senate have jointly passed 152 of these bills, but 55 percent have been awaiting assent by the president, some for over two years.
The Buhari administration has till date, assented to only 61 bills, representing 40 percent of bills passed, while he has declined assent to five bills, and vetoed one. The tally was only recently increased to 61, when Yemi Osinbajo as acting President, gave assent to three bills, increasing the total number of bills with assent from the presidency from the previous 58 bills.
President Buhari rather than attend to the bills lying on his desk, instead called last Thursday, for the quick passage of Gender and Equal Opportunity Bill, which is before the National Assembly and implementation of 35 percent affirmative action by all political parties.
While the Gender and Equal Opportunity Bill is of importance, investigations show it has been stuck at Committee level since 2016, whereas other bills covering health, education, social welfare, and the economy in general which have already been passed by the National Assembly, are yet to get the president’s attention.
Bills that also sought to provide legal backing to agreements signed with Sweden and South Korea, for Nigerian interests to avoid double taxation have also not been attended to by the presidency.
These are Avoidance of Double Taxation Between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Kingdom of Sweden Bill, 2017; Avoidance of Double Taxation Between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Republic of South Korea Bill, 2017.
Even agriculture, which the Buhari administration has more or less picked as the cornerstone of its economic development and poverty eradication agenda has not had a 100 percent success rate. The Presidency has so far snubbed four agriculture related legislations including; Agriculture Credit Guarantee Scheme Act (Amendment) Bill 2015, sponsored by Senator Andy Uba, and which was denied assent by Yemi osinbajo, as acting President in February, 2017. The Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme (Est,etc) Bill, 2015  sponsored by Senator Mao Ohuabunwa, has not been responded to by the presidency, either assenting or declining, likewise, two other bills; National Agricultural Seeds Council Bill, 2018 (HB. 472), and Animal Health and Husbandry Technologist (Registration, etc.) Bill 2016.
In a News Agency  interview in May, Philip Olusegun Ojo, director general, National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) had noted that “The amended bill has been drafted to accommodate recent developments in the seed industry which is a very dynamic industry. Provisions have been made to further support private sector participation in the industry with the inclusion of very stringent penalties that will help dissuade miscreants from engaging in seed business in the country.”
The Seed bill however remains hanging, like other listed bills, which would have delivered critical value in the agric sector. Particularly in the area of access to finance which remains a huge challenge, and in quality inputs (through seeds) which could see productivity improving rapidly.
Bukola Saraki, the Senate President in the foreword of  a Senate Report on its legislative activities titled ‘Reviving the Economy, Creating Opportunities for Nigerians’, had said the three years since the inauguration of the 8th Senate, has been “a period which has been marked by rising unemployment, oil price declines, economic instability and rising insecurity. Our nascent democracy has been and continues to be tested. As a country, we have a monumental task ahead of us, to stabilize the economy, create jobs and ensure our people have access to decent healthcare and education. The Senate has an important role to play in achieving these objectives.”
These objectives by the senate (and national assembly) as a whole, however, remain to be felt. At least not by taxpayers whose contribution to the running of the legislature in the last three years have not gotten full value for their money as bills deliberated upon for economic, social, and security well being of Nigerians remain unattended to by the presidency.
Some of the bills yet to be attended to by the Buhari administration include; Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency Act (Amendment) Bill, 2016; Energy Commission Act (Amendment) bill, 2018(HB72 & 446); Federal Roads Authority (Establishment, etc) Bill 2016; Witness Protection Programme Bill 2015; Franchise Bill.
Others are Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Bill 2015; National Research and Innovation (Est, etc.) Bill, 2017; National Transport Commission (Est., etc.) Bill, 2018 (SB. 242); Chartered Institute of Capital Market Registrars Bill 2017; National Biotechnology Development Agency (Est., etc.) Bill, (HB. 33); Nigeria Aeronautical Search and Rescue Bill, 2018 (HB. 139); Dishonoured Cheques (Offences) Act (Amendment) Bill, 2017; Police Procurement Fund Bill, 2016; and National Road Funds (Est, etc.) Bill, 2018.

 Source- Business Day

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