Members of the National Assembly have been urged to, as a matter of urgency, prioritise pending and important issues affecting the nation’s socio-economic development, as they recently resumed legislative activities for the New Year.
The call was made by the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and contained in a release issued and signed by the Executive Director of the organisation, Mr. Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani).
Some of the priority socio-economic issues identified and highlighted in the release included the Petroleum Industry and Governance Bill, openness and transparency in the 2017 Appropriation Bill, Constitutional and Electoral Reforms, Constituency Accountability, and Sustainable Security.
According to Rafsanjani, “We are not unaware of the existing efforts by the legislators towards the passage of Petroleum Industry Governance and Institutional Framework Bill 2015. Indeed, the Bill was subjected to a Public Hearing in December 2017 in which CISLAC and her partners actively participated.
“We call on the legislators to fast-track passage of the Bill, which remains highly imperative to provide for the Governance and Institutional Framework for the Petroleum Industry to attain increased transparency and accountability and significant growth and progress in the nation’s oil and gas sector.
“CISLAC calls on the National Assembly to ensure a thorough, open and constructive process in the passage of the 2017 Appropriation Bill. We encourage the legislators to activate the existing commitments for allowing citizens input into the appropriation process so that it can reflect the aspirations of Nigerians.
“They should also ensure that the budget process and passage is timely and devoid of scandals and undue distractions and sensationalism. They should also ensure that through the appropriation process and related legislations, commitment to addressing the recession is clearly demonstrated”, the release added.
CISLAC welcomed the on-going constitutional and electoral reforms process in the Assembly, and called on the legislators “to identify key laws and priority areas for reforms to empower INEC and relevant electoral bodies to deal with perpetrators of serious offences in the electoral process, and ensure a level playing ground for competitive elections and guarantees for all democratic rights and freedoms as enshrined in the Constitution.
“We also call on the legislators to fast-track the review process of the 1999 Constitution to address emerging issues affecting Exclusive and Concurrent Legislative Lists for timely growth and development of the country.
“This should be done to ensure that issues related to Immunity Clauses, Devolution of Powers, Local Government Autonomy and financial independence of States Houses of Assembly and Residency Rights and the issues resulting in Statelessness are critically examined and addressed.
“We urge the legislators as representatives of the people on the need for constituency accountability as democracy’s credibility and sustainability depend largely on the extent to which citizens’ participate and obtain feedback from their representatives. We call on the legislators to strengthen their working relationship with their respective constituencies for constructive information and contributions to inform qualitative and citizens-led legislative process”, the release added.
CISLAC also called on the legislators to intensify its oversight on security sector to complement and sustain the nation’s recent achievements at combating insecurity and prioritise security as a crucial issue to attain desired political and socio-economic growth and development at all levels.
“In line with the security sector oversight, we call on the National Assembly to take urgent steps in addressing the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the country. For a country accounting for over two million IDPs in the country within the North East and other parts of the country not to have a legislation dealing with the concerns of these people is appalling.
“Not only should the National Assembly expedite action in the domestication of the Kampala Convention and reviewing the Act setting up the National Commission for Refugees, it should also urge the Executive arm to adopt a National Policy on IDPs.”
CISLAC further called on the National Assembly to ensure that legislations that will facilitate the country’s ability to keep to her commitments to the international community are revisited and addressed.
“The National Action Plan for the implementation of the Open Government Partnership that seeks to pursue open governance and the Roadmap to implement Beneficial Ownership under the EITI are clear examples of this”, it added.
“Consequently, we call on the National Assembly to open up her budget for citizens to know the contents. We recall that in spite of repeated promises by the Senate President and Chairman of the Assembly, this has become a mirage. Nigerians have the right of access to a disaggregated and detailed breakdown of the funds appropriated to the National Assembly”, Rafsanjani added.