Says Sectoral Debates will Commence Soon…..
The Speaker of the House of House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara has issued a stern warning against the late submission of committee reports by various committees in the House. This, he said, while giving welcome remarks at the resumption of plenary on Tuesday. It should be recalled that the House had previously gone on recess during the Easter holiday.
The Speaker also took the opportunity to remind the legislators of the need to earn the trust and confidence of Nigerians whom they represent by living up to their duties in the House, both regarding lawmaking and oversight functions. Speaking on the budget, he urged the Members to “speedily put in place a comprehensive programme to ensure the quality of oversight that speaks to efficient budget implementation”, in line with the legislative agenda of the Eighth House, and in order to “address the perennial budget implementation culture that has inflicted incalculable damage to our developmental aspirations”. He further went on to state that a budget, no matter how beautifully crafted, is meaningless in the face of poor implementation.
Making reference to the legislative agenda once more, he notified Members that sectoral debates would soon commence; this, he said, was required in order to craft new laws or amend existing ones in such a way that they would be truly effective in addressing national problems. The debates, he explained, would entail discussions on various issues such as unemployment, health, education, diversification of the economy and women empowerment, among others, and the heads of various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) may be invited to make presentations pertaining to topics relevant to their fields.
The Speaker then went on to sound a note of warning regarding what he described as “unwarranted delays in submitting reports of committee referrals”, stating that due to these delays, the House had failed to conclude work on some important issues, including the amendments due to 150 bills which were introduced into the legislative mill in December. He therefore called on all committee chairmen to intensify efforts in ensuring that reports are concluded on the various referrals to their committees. Failure to meet referral schedules, he said, will result in such committees being divested of their jurisdiction.
The full speech is copied below;
I have the pleasure to welcome us all back from the short Easter recess. I thank the Almighty God for His protection and sustenance and pray for His wisdom, good health and divine direction as we proceed with the execution of our mandate.
2. It is important to remind ourselves that as we anticipate the commencement of the 2016 budget implementation, our resolve as enunciated in our Legislative Agenda requires of us that we speedily put in place a comprehensive program to ensure the quality of oversight that speaks to the efficient and effective budget implementation we envisage in addressing the perennial poor budget implementation culture that has inflicted incalculable damage to our developmental aspirations. The reality that a beautifully crafted budget is meaningless in the face of poor implementation can not be overstated.
3. I should also like to put us on notice that, pursuant to our Legislative Agenda, we shall soon be commencing our program of Sectoral Debates. You will recall that we committed ourselves in our Legislative Agenda document to “introduce sectoral debates on various aspects of Nigerian economy as part of (our) legislative initiative to address national problems. These sectoral debates will lead to the crafting of new laws or amendment to existing ones or generate recommendations on how to address the specific problem in question. The House will designate specific legislative sitting days or weeks in its calendar specifically for discussion on various problems facing the nation. Such identified themes, sectors, areas or problems include employment and job creation, Health, Education and Social Services; Women, Youths and Children concerns; Power/Energy Sector, Oil and Gas, Science and Technology; Commerce and Industry; Transportation; Telecommunications; Agriculture; Mining; Manufacturing; Diversification of the Economy, Finance, Corruption, Security Matters, Infrastructure and other initiatives of urgent national importance”.
4. The program in this regard will be communicated in the Notice Paper for guidance shortly. Permit me to state, by way of a reminder, that Head of various Ministries, Departments, and Agencies, MDAs, may be required to make presentations on issues relevant to their Ministries, Departments and Agencies as part of the program of these Sectoral debates. I would implore all Honourable Members to prepare for this program that is critical to the overall success of our work as representatives of the people.
5. The other issue of critical importance is the unwarranted delays in submitting reports of Committee referrals. When we resumed from the Christmas recess early in the year, I did call our attention to the fact that the unprecedented 150 Bills we introduced into the legislative mill had placed onerous duty on us to ensure action was concluded on same, along with other Bills, timeously. I must state that by the envisaged projection, we are way behind schedule.
6. It has become imperative to adopt pragmatic measures to ensure that our objectives are met. Once again , may I implore all relevant Committee Chairmen as leaders of their Committees to quickly conclude their reports on the various referrals to their Committees. Going forward, Committees that persist in inability to meet their referral schedules shall be divested of their jurisdiction in respect of such referrals. I am confident that we are all deeply committed to the diligent execution of our mandate and must prove this by meeting our work schedules.
7. Honourable colleagues, I have no doubt that we all appreciate the magnitude and sensitivity of our mandate. Let us rise to the occasion to ensure that the confidence reposed in us by the people who gave us their mandate is not abused. On this note, I once again warmly welcome us and wish us all, a fruitful and rewarding session of service to fatherland.
8. God bless you, and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.