President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, on Monday assured Nigerians that legislative duties in the National Assembly would not be relegated to the background in view of the commencement of the 2019 electioneering.
Saraki, according to a statement by his Special Assistant on Print Media, Chuks Okocha, in Abuja, made the assertion while responding to comments by the Acting British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Harriet Thompson, who visited him at the National Assembly.
Saraki said, “It is very important to emphasise that as far as we are concerned, we will follow through on the key Bills. We will continue to work on these Bills, because they are priorities to the 8th National Assembly — these are Bills that were initiated by the legislative arm of government.
For example, the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) has never gotten this far in its history. However, both Chambers of the National Assembly worked very hard to come up with a unified position and sent it to the Executive. Unfortunately, it came back with some minor issues that we feel should not have affected the progress of the Bill. These were issues that could have been easily addressed.
The two arms of government must see that the most important thing is for us to get the PIGB going because it has a lot of impact on the industry in terms of transparency, accountability and ensuring that the revenues of the petroleum sector are well managed.
As you know, we have also gone far with the fiscal and host community components of the Bill, because it came about as a result of constant engagement with stakeholders in the industry. However, with this setback by the Executive, this has slowed down the process a little,” the Senate President said.
Speaking on the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) and the Police Reform Bill, Saraki said that the CAMA Bill was only waiting for the Concurrence Committee of both Houses of the National Assembly to finish its work, while the Police Reform Bill would soon be subjected to Public Hearing.
I am hopeful that the CAMA will soon pass in the House of Representatives too. On the Police Reform Bill, we are hoping to have a public hearing very soon. As you know, this reform Bill came about as an immediate response by parliament to the increased reports of insecurity across the country.
We took the decision to evaluate the security situation in the country, particularly the police, to see how best we could make the institution more effective and efficient. Unfortunately, as we work towards these reforms of the police, I must be honest, many of the actions of the police are seen to be quite partisan.
We are hoping that the new Chairman of the Senate Committee on Police Affairs will set the ball rolling on this immediately. It is important that the Executive too must see the importance of this Bill so that we can work together and improve the efficiency and the level of Police performance.