Opinion: Saraki’s Reformation Campaign And The Future of Legislation In Nigeria
By Wale Bakare
In planning to set precedence where non-exists, there are certain exigencies that must be obeyed in accordance with the principles guiding it, in order to reap generously in the fullness of time.
The precondition to economy buoyancy as been stated clearly, the Legislature must succeed if the Executive hopes to deliver the dividends of democracy in the shortest possible time. Since one cannot function effectively without the other, it is important for both arms of government to set their focus on people’s oriented project.
When the Senate delivers on its legislative Agenda, it eases diversification of the economy and sets a working precedence for the Executive to succeed as well. This in turn raises confidence and gives people the opportunity to participate and contribute to better governance.
To reap is to bear the fatigue of labour and from all indications, the National Assembly, by account of its activities on recent legislations is moving in the right direction. However, we should be mindful that the house comprises of lawmakers with divergent constituency priorities and ideologies, hence, the general public will sometimes be pitched with their legislator on account of the bills & motion they move, pass and absorb-in which may attract criticism in the court of public opinion. Unfortunately so, but inevitable.
The combination of activities within the Senate Chamber suggest the presence of a new order with new sets of rules centred on economy buoyancy and a focused oversight backed with discipline as an important ingredient in the successes recorded thus far.
Once again, the nation’s legislative hub is well-regarded, with a constant message of warning that resonates across government agencies, public and private enterprise that the 8th Senate under the leadership of Bukola Saraki is for re-establishment and local contents advocacy.
In spite of the perception of the country as one grappled with a combination of obstacles ranging from Insecurity, Terrorism, Corruption, Judicial manipulations and human rights violation, the National Assembly has been able to carefully attract the right investors, and when necessary, summon local companies and institutions to account for one thing or the other as it pertains to the economy.
It is perfectly in order to be astounded by how the Senate President, Bukola Saraki has keyed into several important legislative activities almost effortlessly, leaving one to imagine, the successes that could be recorded with such collective determination in the long run.
In the list of the reformation campaign and the future impact on legislation comes the first worthy news that the 8th Senate will be proposing #30bills for debate in 2016. This has an effect, considering that the 7th Senate hurriedly passed 46 bills under 10minutes. Focus is important; and bills submitted earlier are subjected to thorough screening before passage. When passed, the bills are expected to give the much anticipated reforms in key areas like: Judiciary, Anti-corruption, Poverty Alleviation, Security and Education. Having members of the public partake in the bill debate and consideration will give credence to the entire process.
On Treasury Single Account (TSA) , keen observers of the media debacle that trailed the Senate’s decision to investigate the process, costs and terms of operation, especially the mode of e-collection and the humongous charges drawn as commission at the expense of tax payers’ money will agree that it is no longer business as usual. From the Senate’s thorough oversight in the face of blackmail &intimidation, a whooping 7billion is what has been saved from different accounts of the MDAs, which could easily have gone into the wrong pockets. This will pass as one of the major achievements of the 8th Senate since its inauguration. The full report of Senate Committee findings exposed the sharp practices in connivance with government agencies to defraud the government of funds that can be used to develop other sectors of the economy. The implementation of the report will further save the nation from wastages and ensure prudency in spending.
Austere times deserves austere measures, the announcement by Bukola Saraki to amend the procurement act shortly after the bill passage has received some considerate support, the inability to provide alternatives to imported goods is a huge collateral damage threatening to kill our manufacturing industry. Saraki revealed that ‘’the Act will be amended to ensure that made in Nigeria goods are patronized,’’
In this regard, the Senate has taken the lead role with the invitation of some Aba traders who displayed their locally made products. It is noteworthy, that the Senate President has agreed to continue to protect local industries through appropriate legislation, patronage and direct intervention. The Aba traders left the Senate chamber with smiles on their faces and Saraki assured that more of such encouragement was the only way to create jobs, solve unemployment problems, and take the youth off the street as they can easily be lured into common vices. This, he fulfilled by attending the Aba trade fair where he purchased materials made locally by Nigerians and encouraged his colleagues to do same.
Another important piece of legislation is the bill to amend Agricultural lending scheme. If we agree that Nigeria is mono economy in nature, then it is pleasant news for farmers that the bill has scaled through to the second reading. Initiatives like this shouldn’t be overlooked in the quest for youth employment and economic diversification.
According to the Senate President, the bill when passed into law will ensure that farmers have access to funds at a competitive interest rate.
Saraki said; ‘’In order to meet long-term financial commitments to our farmers, we need to ensure that we protect the credit financiers and banks that are involved in credit disbursement, doing this will ensure that all Stakeholders meet their financial obligations’’ He concluded.
The past weeks has also witnessed series of diplomatic moves by the National Assembly to correct some of the ills of the past. The insistence on CBN restriction of forex on imported goods is a welcomed development despite mounting pressure from importers to relax the law. Senator Saraki affirmed that as the Chairman of the 8th Assembly, the Senate will not back down on its principles. Harsh as it may sound ab initio, the corresponding benefit to the economy and future of trade in the country cannot be over emphasized.
The Senate’s approach to the 2016 Budget is unprecedented, in a long while; senate committee members are incensed at the over-bloated figures allotted to some MDAs and other government parastatals. This is a deviation from the previous cash-for-budget ‘’deals’’ brokered to impale the economy.
On security, the Chief of Army staff and his entourage to the Senate will heave a sigh of relief: someone is ready to listen to them, to look after their welfare and review outmoded laws that continue to set backward the war against insurgency. There are stringent lessons to learn and the senate has taken the lead role to spearhead the move to ensure their concerns were met in a timely manner.
It is worthy of note that, the Senate’s anti-corruption stands through various interventions and scrutiny goes in line with those of President Muhammadu Buhari. Unlike in the 7th Senate where important piece of legislation such as the over 1trn Subsidy scam discovered by Bukola Saraki with no actions taken on the report, the 8th Senate is determined to leave an indelible mark by correcting the ills within the system.
Strong institutions are built by a working economy, the Senate realises the importance of creating an enabling environment for businesses to thrive, thus prioritising the amendment of important laws that will ease private sector participation in order to turn around the fortunes of the economy.
The 8th Senate can be said to have gotten its priorities right on the account of these recent oversight that will shape future narratives as far as legislations were concerned. The implications of these are numerous; it is indeed a move that advances a course of action capable of further stimulating the economy and spurring investor’s confidence in doing business the right way.