With passage of landmark bills, it is ironic to call NASS rubber stamp, says Gbajabiamila

SPEAKER of the House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila said it was ironic for Nigerians to describe the current National Assembly as ‘rubber stamp’ when it had passed landmark bills, made resolutions and scrutinised the national budgets to the benefit of Nigerians.

Gbajabiamila, who spoke on Channels TV on Tuesday, said if working with the executive arm for swift passage of vital bills in a coronavirus-ravaged year for the benefit of Nigerians made the National Assembly ‘rubber stamp,’ so be it.

“If you mean working harmoniously with another arm of the government for the public good is a rubber stamp, so be it. We have achieved the budget to December budget cycle due to working seamlessly with the executive. Is it what they describe as a rubberstamping entity? so be it.

“How do you say that a House that has made 96 resolutions on security is a rubber stamp? It just requires proper research of what we have done looking at the debate on the floor, how we scrutinize the budget and see how ironic it was to call a House like that a rubber stamp.”

Many Nigerians have described the Ninth National Assembly as a rubber stamp because of its willingness to approve most of the executive motions and bills.

One reason Nigerians describe them as ‘rubber stamp’ is the National Assembly’s approval of several loan proposals by President Buhari.

In July 2021, the National Assembly approved $6.1 billion loan request by Buhari.

Also in July, the the Senate approved Buhari’s $8.3 billion and €490 million loan requests.

President Buhari, on Tuesday, also asked the Senate for a fresh approval for over $4 billion and €710 million loans.

Nigeria’s debt grew to N33.10 trillion in March 2021.

Nigerians wonder why National Assembly leadership is ready to approve loans by the executive without asking too many questions.

Clarifying the National Assembly’s persistent approval of the government’s borrowing, the speaker noted that the Medium-Term Expenditure framework of the government also guided such approvals.

“The budget of the country is predicated on the borrowings, the deficits required. Countries have deficits, more so in a COVID-ravaged year.”

Gbajabiamila also noted that the current National Assembly’s relationship with the executive had helped in achieving landmark legislations.

He said the parliament had been less distracted with political in-fighting with the executive, leading to success in achieving the passage of the Petroleum Industry Act after almost 20 years and progress on the Electoral Amendment Bill.

“We have achieved results in Ghana, South African, and China during the COVID-19 crisis, where the legislature steps in beyond its traditional role as a legislature and work in sync with the executive, with Nigerians living outside the country.”

Gbajabiamila cited an example of parliamentary diplomacy exercised by the current Ninth Assembly, where his team in Ghana intervened in issues regarding a diplomatic row between Nigerian traders and the Government of Ghana.






     

     

    “I met with the speaker of House of Representatives in Ghana when our traders were having issues with the Ghanaian government on some tough policies. We later met with the President of Ghana and the issues later got resolved,” he further said.

    Gbajabiamila said despite the ravaging security concerns and economic distress that presently characterised the polity, the National Assembly had achieved some reforms that would grow nation-building.

    “The things we have done working together with the executives have been able to achieve results for the common man. We are not there yet, but two years down the line, we have made appreciable progress.”

     

     

     

    He  also noted that the ninth National Assembly has achieve some parliamentary diplomacy in solving national issues.

    Harrison Edeh is a journalist with the International Centre for Investigative Reporting, always determined to drive advocacy for good governance through holding public officials and businesses accountable.

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