Lawmakers of the ninth assembly will resume legislative activities Tuesday, after a nine-week-long recess.
The break, observed annually, is majorly for the lawmakers to travel to their constituencies to interact with their constituents on varied issues of national interest.
They embarked on the annual recess on July 15 after a lengthy and controversial plenary session which saw them pass crucial legislations.
Some of the legislations include the approval of Buhari’s $8.3 billion external loan request, passage of the Electoral Amendment Bill as well as the conference committee report on the Petroleum Industry Bill.
The senators also confirmed the nomination of Sani Adams as a commissioner for the Independent National Electoral Commission.
Although some committees held crucial meetings during the recess, other issues of national importance arose in this period – most of which required the attention of the entire Senate.
As the lawmakers gear up to resume legislative activities, here are a few things to expect:
This, perhaps, will be the main focus of both the Senate and the House of Representatives upon resumption.
The ninth assembly brags about returning the annual budget cycle to January-December, as one of its biggest achievements. Already, plans are underway to ensure that President Muhammadu Buhari presents the 2022 budget to the parliament latest by October.
Both the Senate and House Committees on Finance have held public hearings on the 2022-2024 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) forwarded to the National Assembly in July – where lawmakers reviewed the budget performance and revenue generation of some Ministries, Departments and Agencies.
The lawmakers are, therefore, expected to consider and pass the report of the committees upon resumption, receive the 2022 Appropriation bill from the president, hold budet defence sessions with MDAs as well as pass the budget by the end of the year.
An attempt to alter the constitution for the fifth time is underway.
And at the moment Nigerians are eager to see the changes that will be made to Nigerian laws when that is done.
The lawmakers had commenced the constitution review process months ago and public hearings were held across all the geo-political regions of the state.
PREMIUM TIMES reported key recommendations that were made by Nigerians at the hearings ranging from restructuring, to gender equality and a new constitution.
Although the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, who doubles as the chairman of the constitution review committee had said the report will be ready in July, it is yet to be submitted.
Nigerians are expecting the panel to submit its report for consideration and passage.
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It would be shocking if the lawmakers do not discuss the rising spate of insecurity across the country. As a matter of fact, they are expected to resume with motions and bills to that regard.
In the course of the break, reports of clashes and kidnappings and banditry were rampants. There were also reports of insurgents surrendering to the military – an act that the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, commended.
As a major and recurring subject in both chambers of the National Assembly, Nigerians are hoping there will be more conversations this time to find lasting solutions to the menace.
Other crucial issues
A lot of other issues came up during the recess that Nigerians are hoping will be legislated upon by the lawmakers.
One of such, is the controversy surrounding the Value Added Tax and states like Rivers and Lagos insisting they collect their taxes and not the federal government.
This newspaper reported how a court in Port Harcourt ruled that it was the right of the Rivers State Government to receive VAT in the state and how the Federal Inland Revenue Service wrote to the National Assembly seeking to repeal the law that the federal government collects all tax.
Although Nasarawa senator, Abdullahi Adamu, refused to comment on the issue when he spoke with journalists on Monday, many would want to know the stand of the Senate (or the House) upon deliberation.
Another crucial matter is the Electoral Amendment Bill. Although passed but not yet signed law, there are still controversies surrounding some provisions and amendments made to the bill.
The National Assembly had empowered the Nigerian Communications Commission and itself to determine where electronic transmission of results can be used during elections. The electoral umpire, INEC, on the other hand, says the legislature does not have the power to do so.
It has been a back and forth between the two parties and many are eager to see how this will be resolved.
Just as Nigerians are expecting legislative action and intervention on the VAT and electoral amendment controversies, the same goes for the resident doctors strike which has been on for over a month.
Prior to the recess, some lawmakers defected to the ruling All Progressives Congress. Some of these lawmakers are Delta senator, Peter Nwabaoshi; all Zamfara senators; Adamawa senator, Elisha Abbo.
During the break, Anambra senator, Stella Oduah, also joined the party.
In the build up of the 2023 general elections and party crisis in both the APC and the opposition party, PDP, more defections are expected.