39 senators fail to sponsor bill in six months

Chukwu David

From Tuesday June 11, 2019, when the Ninth Senate was inaugurated, to December 20, 2019, when it embarked on Christmas and New Year recess, the apex legislative chamber was able to sponsor a total of 189 bills.

Investigations carried out by New Telegraph revealed that 70 senators, out of the 109 senators, sponsored these bills while 39 of the lawmakers could better be described as bench warmers within the six months of legislative engagements in the Senate, as they did not sponsor any bill.

Further statistical breakdown also shows that three out of the 189 legislative proposals were executive bills while 186 were private member bills.

It is also pertinent to note that the three executive bills had been considered and passed for third reading in the Senate. They have been signed into law by President Muhamnadu Buhari.

The three bills include the N10.594 trillion 2020 Appropriation Bill, the 2019 Finance Bill and the N278.355 billion 2020 Appropriation bill for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT, Abuja).

Similarly, apart from the three executive bills already considered and passed within the period under review, four out of the 186 private member bills were also passed for third reading.

One of the four bills, the Deep Off-shore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contracts Act CAP D3 LFN 2004 (Amendment) Bill 2019, has been assented to by President Buhari.

Interestingly, Senators like late Benjamin Uwajumogu (APC, Imo North), Biodun Olujimi (PDP, Ekiti South) and Smart Adeyemi (APC Kogi West), who joined the 9th Senate late due to electoral litigation, were among those who sponsored the 189 bills in the last six months.

Also, it is worthy of note, that most of the 39 senators who have not sponsor any bill yet, started with the Ninth Senate during its inauguration on June 11, 2019.

Some of the senators who have not made any impact in sponsorship of bills include: Lola Ashiru (APC, Kwara South), Ishaku Elisha Cliff (PDP, Adamawa North), Stephen Ekpenyong (PDP, Akwa Ibom North West), Adamu Muhammad Bulkachuwa (APC Bauchi, North), Diri Douye (PDP, Bayelsa Central) and Onor Sandy Ojang (PDP, Cross River Central).

Others are Senators Alkali Saidu (APC, Gombe North), Amos Bulus Kilawangs (APC, Gombe South), Hadeija Hassan Ibrahim (APC, Jigawa North East), Abdul-Kwari Suleiman (APC, Kaduna North), Abdullah Barkiya Kabir (APC, Katsina Central), Nicholas Tofowomo (PDP, Ondo South) and Lawal Hassan Anka (PDP, Zamfara West).

Also in this category are Senators Yaroe Binos Dauda (PDP, Adamawa South), Peter Nwaoboshi (PDP, Delta North ), Oseni Yakubu (APC, Kogi Central), Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo (PDP, Bayelsa West) and Degi Eremienyo (APC, Bayelsa East), who is now the Deputy Governor-elect for the state, among others.

Furthermore, available records show that a total of 40 out of the 186 private member bills sponsored in the Senate between October and December last year have scaled second reading.

Some of the bills include the controversial anti-social media bill titled: “Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulation Bill 2019 sponsored by Senator Uba Sani (APC, Kaduna Central), the bill seeking for establishment of the National Assembly Budget and Research Office sponsored by Senator Rose Oko (PDP, Cross River North) and the bill seeking for establishment of National Rice Development Council of Nigeria sponsored by Senator Bima Mohammed Enagi (APC, Niger South).

Others are the bills seeking for an Act to prevent, prohibit and redress Sexual Harassment of Students in Tertiary Educational Institutions sponsored by the Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege (APC, Delta Central); Freedom from Hunger Bill sponsored by Senator Theodore Orji (PDP, Abia Central); National Health Insurance Commission Bill 2019 sponsored by Senator Ibrahim Yahaya Oloriegbe (APC, Kwara Central) and the bill seeking for an Act to provide for constituency projects in the annual budget of the federation sponsored by Senator Stella Oduah (PDP Anambra North).

Other bills that have scaled second reading in the Senate within the period under review are some of those seeking for alteration of provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).

They include the one sponsored by Senator Gabriel Suswam (PDP, Benue North East), which seeks for a definite and certain day for convening the first session and inauguration of elected members of National Assembly and State House of Assembly after their dissolution by the President and Governor, pursuant to sections 64(3) and 105(3) of the 1999 Constitution as amended.

Most of the 186 bills are still at the first reading stage, being legislative proposals listed on the Senate’s Order Papers between 19th November and 20th December, 2019.

However, the Hate Speech Bill sponsored by Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (APC, Niger North), which passed through first reading on Tuesday, November 12, 2019, was never listed for second reading before adjournment for Christmas and the New year.

The delay in listing this proposal for second reading may not be unconnected with the controversies it generated in public domain, after it was introduced in the apex legislative chamber for consideration.

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