Home Top Stories House leadership berates absentee Reps, urges lawmakers to be more dutiful 

House leadership berates absentee Reps, urges lawmakers to be more dutiful 


Abuja – The leadership of the House of Representatives has berated members who sponsor bills or have reports to lay but are absent from plenary on days the items have been listed on the Order Paper.

According to the leadership, this leads to a waste of legislative time and resources.

The Majority Leader of the House, Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, raised the issue at the plenary on Thursday when bills scheduled for a second reading were stepped down due to the absence of their sponsors.

Out of the eight bills scheduled for a second reading, five were stepped down.

Items 2, 3, 4, 6 and 7 were stepped down.

Ado-Doguwa said, “I rise with due respect and all sense of responsibility and obligation as Leader of this very important House (to say) that rampant cases of bills being taken for second reading and eventually, the member is not on the floor to take it up; I think it is of serious concern.

“Mr Speaker and honourable members, like I said, I rise as Leader of this House, very respectfully, (to) urge my colleagues that you must always liaise with the Chairman of the House Committee on Rules and Business.

“Also, the Chairman on Rules and Business while scheduling businesses of the day must also get in touch with relevant members so that bills are not put on schedules only for us to step them down because the member that is supposed to take them is not on the floor, especially a bill that is meant for second reading.

“The second reading of every bill is one fundamental stage of that bill. It is at that point that a member is expected to come and debate the general principle of that bill. It is the key step as far as the legislative process is concerned. So, I rise with all sense of humility to urge our members to please take it seriously and be more dutiful when the time comes for any bill to be taken for second reading.”

The Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Wase, who presided over the session, however, explained the reason for stepping down the ‘Bill for an Act to Provide for Upgrade and Conversion of Iron and Steel Company Clinic, Ajaokuta to Federal Teaching Hospital, Ajaokuta to Provide Facility for Healthcare Services and Medical Training for Students of Federal University, Lokoja; and for Related Matters’ sponsored by Lawal Idirisu.

Wase said, “Maybe not to indict our colleagues, for the last bill that we stepped down, it is as a result of the leadership meeting that we had this morning before coming into the chamber. We saw that it is a bill within an institution that is likely going for privatisation and you cannot go now to single out that particular structure and hand it over to the Federal Government, meanwhile it is within a commercial set-up as of today. So, we advised him to step it down.”

He added, “But I concur with you in terms of how we schedule our businesses only for those who are here to be denied the opportunity to present their own. I believe that there is a legislative plan for every week and each member is supposed to be aware – as they go through the plan – to know that a bill is going to be scheduled for a particular day and they are going to be available to present them to the House.

“I want to, and in line with what he has said, urge our colleagues that we should please save our legislative businesses and time. It is important so that we will be able to make progress. I have stepped down a number of bills and particularly reports of committees.

“I want to beg that chairmen of committees, in the event they are not around, their deputies should always be handy so that we will be able to do justice and deliver what we are expected to Nigerians.”

The Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu, also noted that notices are usually sent to lawmakers, urging them to check their email boxes regularly.

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