MediaMay 20, 2023by admin0

10th N’Assembly Leadership Beyond Zoning

Udora Orizu highlights the appraisals by parliamentary monitoring organisation, OrderPaper Nigeria, and the need for the next leadership of the parliament to be based on lawmakers’ competence and capacity in legislative business.

With about 50 days to the inauguration of the 10th National Assembly, the race for the next leadership of both chambers is getting more fierce. The delay in the release of zoning arrangements for the various leadership positions in the 10th Senate and House of Representatives by the All Progressives Congress is not helping matters, as it’s creating tension with aspirants battling allegations of corruption, bribery and religious sentiments.

However ranking lawmakers eyeing the office of the Senate President and House Speaker ahead of the inauguration in June have kick started their campaign activities.

While there are reports that some members-elect of the House of Representatives have dismissed the soon-to-be unveiled zoning arrangement, saying it would not determine the choice of Speaker, some others are canvassing for a credible and democratic leadership based on credibility, competence and acceptability.

Beyond the zoning principle, a Parliamentary Monitoring Organisation, OrderPaper Nigeria,  and its partners through their annual performance appraisals is beaming light on the importance of performance, capacity and character as a criteria for filling National Assembly leadership positions.

The PMO founder, Oke Epia, in a chat with THISDAY opined that capacity of the legislators aspiring for the parliament’s leadership position is important beyond just canvassing on the basis of zoning and party favours.

According to him, “We believe that the contestations for the presiding and principal officers of the 10th National Assembly should be viewed from the broader and more objective perspective of performance, capacity and character. While zoning is a credible criteria given the context of Nigeria’s diversity and the necessary requirement for inclusion and power-balancing, it is in the overriding national interest to also prioritize track record. Citizens have a right to know and make valid judgements on the suitability or otherwise of those seeking to become leaders of the legislature, which is the most critical arm of government in a democracy.

“That is why over the years, OrderPaper has set objective metrics for sufficiently measuring the performance of members of the National Assembly, especially on bills using the indices of volume, value, impact and progression (VVIP). So, over the last three years of the current assembly, we have produced concise but comprehensive appraisals of all 469 members of the National Assembly (109 in the Senate and 360 in the House of Representatives). We invite the public to consult our website– and social media handles @orderpaper to get appraised of what each of these lawmakers seeking to become leaders in the 10th assembly have done.

We have been able to offer performance appraisals of the National Assembly and provide a valid and objective basis for citizens to determine the suitability or otherwise of incumbent legislators seeking to become speaker, deputy speaker, president of the senate and deputy president of the senate as well as principal officers in both chambers. We must move the conversation beyond zoning, political party patronage, and the ‘emilokan’ mentality of entitlement.”

Recently, the parliamentary monitoring organisation, announced the Semi-Finalists, MVP Panel of Experts (MPEs) for the country’s first-ever Most Valuable Parliamentarian (MVP) Hall of Fame.

The MVP Hall of Fame initiative, which is in furtherance of OrderPaper’s contributions to legislative strengthening and promotion of improved service delivery in the National Assembly, aims at identifying and sustaining a distinct class of legislators who are performance-driven, excellence-inspired, and public-spirited.

The annual appraisals focused exclusively on the core legislative function of law-making, and consideration for the MVP nomination and subsequent shortlisting essentially applied the criteria of Value, Impact, and Productivity in rating the contributions of those shortlisted.

The MVP hall of fame shortlist showed that Hon. Benjamin Okezie Kalu (APC, Abia) is in a frontline place for the House Speakership contest.

Kalu is a man of many parts. Oracle, as he is popularly called, is not just an exceptional politician, lawyer, but also a legislator per excellence.

The success of every democracy rests squarely on the quality of the parliament hence the need to always have in place a solid legislature with sound players.

Kalu’s service to the 9th House of Representatives as Chairman of Committee on Media and Public Affairs, gives him away as someone who is well prepared to take responsibility in any situation.

Kalu made Order Paper’s semi-final list of top performers in value and impact bills and top performers in House newbies. It’s quite impressive all he has achieved in close to four years as a lawmaker.

The lawmaker who recently won his second term re-election bid, over the years, worked closely with the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, and has sponsored over 40 impactful bills.

Some of the bills include: Federal College of Education Bende, (Establishment,etc.) Bill 2020, Industrial Development (Income Tax Relief) Act (Amendment) Bill, Counterfeit Currency (Special Provisions) Act (Amendment) Bill, 2020, Dangerous Drugs Act (Amendment) Bill 2020, Acts Authentication Act (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Nigerian Meteorological Agency Act (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Nigerian Communications Act (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Internal Loans (Rehabilitation, Reconstruction and Development) Act (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Public Accounts Implementation Tribunal Act (Repeal) Bill 2019, Official Secrets Act (Amendment) Bill, 2019, among others.

His most recent bill which seeks to alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to delete the item “prisons” in the Exclusive Legislative List and redesignate it as “Correctional Services” in the Concurrent Legislative List; was assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Kalu has shown competence and capacity in the discharge of his legislative duties and if elected Speaker, he will surely bring to reality an Assembly that will achieve cohesion, national unity, inclusiveness that will bring everybody together for the purpose of achieving prosperity for the nation.

Another aspirant who made the OrderPaper list, is Hon. Yusuf Gagdi (APC, Plateau).

Gagdi represents Pankshin/Kanke/Kanam Federal Constituency of Plateau State and was a Deputy Speaker of the State House of Assembly before getting elected into the House of Representatives in 2019.

He’s currently the Chairman House Committee on Navy.

Gagdi made history as the first lawmaker in Nigeria’s parliament to sponsor six Private Member Bills that receive Presidential assent within a legislative session since the establishment of the National Assembly.

He has sponsored over 20 bills.

Some bills sponsored by Gagdi, which have already been signed into law, are: Police Act 2020, the Federal University of Education, Pankshin Act 2021, the National Hydrographic Agency Act 2021 and Admiralty University, Ibusa in Delta state.

Following his outstanding performance in the last three and half years, his constituents gave him an overwhelming support during the February 25, 2023 election as he was re-elected in landslide victory as a member of the House of Representatives for a second term.

Another speakership aspirant who made Order Paper list of top bills sponsors, is Hon. Abbas Tajudeen (APC, Kaduna).

Tajudeen is the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Land Transport and the highest bill sponsor of the 9th House of Representatives.

He’s among the few lawmakers in the 9th National Assembly that stand out in legislative activities. On bills sponsorship, Tajudeen seems to be first to none in the 9th House having sponsored 75 bills.

While many of the bills have passed 1st, 2nd and 3rd Reading, some of them have also been passed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari.

President Buhari recently signed into law National Blood Transfusion Bill and a Bill for an Act to Repeal the Nigeria Council for Management Development Act Cap N99 Law of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and National Centre for Economic Management and Administration Act Cap. N14 Law of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and Enact the Nigeria Council for Management Development Bill 2021 and for Related Matters (HB 1119). These were sponsored by the lawmaker.

Speaking in support of his aspiration, one of his colleagues, Hon. Onofiok Luke (PDP, AkwaIbom) said Abbas, has towering credentials for the dynamics and complexities of the 10th House of Representatives.

His words, “Why do I say so. First look at his educational background. He has a doctorate degree. He is well schooled and educated. Secondly, there are three major responsibilities and functions of a legislator. One is lawmaking, second is oversight.

Third is representation. Now take lawmaking. Today Tajudeen Abbas has the highest number of bills in the House. I think about 70. Out of that 21 of those bills have been assented to by the President. That means he lives, sleeps, and thinks legislative business. And so for you to become a better manager of the legislature as a Speaker, you must be a better legislator yourself and you know what it means to turn out good legislation.”


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