By Adedayo Akinwale ín Abuja
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has stressed the need for deeper parliamentary cooperation between Nigeria and Egypt.
Gbajabiamila stated this while receiving the Speaker of the Egyptian House of Representatives, Hon. Aly Abdel Sayed Ahmed, in his office where he sought to know how Egypt was able to move between the practice of bicameral and unicameral legislatures without rancour.
The Speaker in a statement issued Tuesday by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Lanre Lasisi, said though both countries have been enjoying great relationships since the 1960s, the time has come for the Parliaments of both countries to explore other areas that would be of mutual benefits to them.
Gbajabiamila requested to know what informed the decision of Egypt to go back to the bi-cameral legislature after the Senate was abolished in 2014.
He equally expressed his interest in the ratio of women in the Egyptian parliament of about 600 lawmakers with about 100 women and how that was achieved.
According to him, “These are issues that are very important to us. I understand that before 2014, your parliament was bicameral, and in 2014, you became unicameral and now you’ve just amended your constitution to go back to bicameral and bring your Senate back.”
The Speaker stressed further that Nigeria would want to learn how Egypt is tackling some common challenges like terrorism.
Responding, the Speaker of the Egyptian parliament, Sayed Ahmed, expressed hope of strengthened cooperation between the two parliaments while extending an invitation to his Nigerian counterpart for a working visit to the Egyptian House of Representatives.
He revealed that Egypt is a country of diversity, as its constitution contains provisions that grant representation to Egyptians based on religion, disabilities, Egyptians in the diaspora, some professions as well as youths, workers and villagers.
He stated: “Regarding unicameral and bi-cameral parliament, in our 1971 constitution, we have only unicameral change. The constitution was amended in 1980 to adopt bicameral parliament, but a lot of criticism trailed the bicameral legislature because Egypt is a central and not a federal state and passing legislation in bi-cameral parliament consumes a lot of time.
“The existence of the other chamber, from an economic point of view, costs a lot. This was the reason why Egyptians cancelled the Senate from the constitution in 2014. The Speaker was part of the Committee that wrote the constitution.”
Ahmed said the main reason the Senate was brought back was to increase parliamentary participation by the people, while revealing that the proposal now is 300 seats in the Senate, and 100 of them would be appointed by the President of the Republic and 200 directly elected by the people.