House Rejects Bill Seeking Procedure to Petition N’Assembly over Grievances

Udora Orizu in Abuja

The House of Representatives at its plenary yesterday rejected a bill that sought to introduce a procedure to petition National Assembly for grievances to enhance the participation of the citizens in government.

The proposed legislation, which was presented for second reading, was tilted “Bill for an Act to make Provision for the Procedure to Petition the National Assembly for grievance to enhance the participation of People in Government and for Related Matters (HB. 1631).”

In his debate, the sponsor of the bill, Hon. Nkem Abonta, explained that the bill simply sought to deepen democracy, and for the parliament to evolve ways of letting the people’s voice to be heard.

According to him, “this came out of my experience in public petitions, after a comparative study of what happens in other democratic climes. When people are aggrieved with government policy etc., the only way they can make it known is to lay a formal complaint to the House.

“The House will now look at it and come up with a resolution that if backed by proper legal framework, it will not be just mere recommendations.

“Should there be a procedure and upon 10,000 signatories on an issue, the House will feel compelled to hear that petition.”

Contributing in support of the bill, the Deputy Minority Leader, Hon. Toby Okechukwu, said that the bill when it becomes law would help to check how Nigerians feel through a petition.

Reacting, the Speaker, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, said that he liked the idea of the bill, but warned that lawmakers should not create problems while trying to solve one.

He said: “I like the idea of this bill but we have to look at the gray areas and consequences unseen. I like the novelty of the bill but we need to be careful. Making them sign signatures, you’re making it difficult for them to bring matters on the floor. We should not try to create problems while trying to solve one.”

Corroborating the speaker’s stance, his Deputy, Hon. Idris Wase,: “We should protect our democracy jealously, we have a Committee on Public Petitions to handle these issues. One person can generate names and signatures in a room.”

On his part, the Chairman, Committee on Public Petitions, Hon. Jerry Alagbaoso, suggested that the public petition committee to be left the way it is.

Also at the plenary, the lawmakers passed through second reading a Bill for an Act to Amend the Medical and Dental Practitioners Act, Cap. M379, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 to mandate any Nigeria trained Medical or Dental Practitioner to Practice in Nigeria for a minimum of five years before being granted a full licence by the council in order to make quality health services available to Nigeria.

In his lead debate, the sponsor, Hon. Ganiyu Johnson, said that the proposed legislation sought to cure the mischief of brain drain and build the manpower in medical sector.

Meanwhile to the lawmakers has introduced and passed through first reading, “Medical Residency Training Act (Amendment) Bill, 2023 (HB.2205)” that was sponsored by Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, Hon. Tanko Yusuf Sunnunu and Hon. Samuel Babatunde Adejare, including the National Examinations Council (NECO) (Establishment) Bill, 2023 (HB.2206) being sponsored by Hon. Julius Ihonvbere.

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