Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
Since the inauguration of the 8th session of the National Assembly on June 8, 2015, over 1000 motions, calling for intervention in critical areas in the polity have been passed by the House of Representatives. In its first year alone, the House passed 491 motions.
The Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, while speaking during the second year anniversary of the current House in June, 2017 said the many motions passed by the Green Chamber since 2015 are evidence of the vibrancy of the 8th House. However, beyond this chest thumping by the House leadership, nothing tangible has come from the motions as they remain largely unimplemented.
Key motions yet to implemented
Analysts say that it has been more of a case of all wind and no motion when it comes to the implementation of House’s resolutions. The House leadership seem to agree. Contributing to a debate on a security related motion recently, Deputy Speaker of the House, Yusuff Lasun had lamented that “we have had motions without action.”
Lasun is right. On February 7, 2018, the House passed a vote of no confidence on the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris and called for his immediate sack. The Green Chamber while adopting a motion by Danburamu Nuhu from Kano State, “on the need to curb the rising cases of political thuggery in Kano State and other parts of the country,” also called on President Muhammadu Buhari to replace Idris with a more professional police officer.
Several weeks after the motion was adopted, the IGP is still in his position, and nothing suggests that the executive arm of government would comply with House’s directive on him anytime soon.
Few weeks after, the House demanded for the sack of Idris, it also passed votes of no confidence on the Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Kayode Fayemi and his Minister of State, Inuwa Bawa. The duo had shunned a sectoral briefing on the moribund Ajaokuta Steel Company. The House also adopted a motion directing President Buhari to stay action on the planned concession of Ajaokuta Steel Company.
Before then, the House had passed a motion reversing the ban on the importation of vehicles through land borders. Like several others before it, nothing concrete came out of the resolution.
Also, in the past three years, the House adopted several motions on the security challenges across the country, especially on the endless clashes between herdsmen and farmers, which has snowballed into a national emergency. One of the motions, which were passed recently, specifically urged President Buhari to compel security agencies in the country to enforce the Anti-open Grazing law enacted by the Benue State government.
Regrettably, these motions remain largely unimplemented. Just recently, the House again adopted a motion passing a vote of no confidence on all the service chiefs on account of worsening security situation in the country. Similarly, the Green chamber also resolved to summon President Muhammadu Buhari to appear before it, to explain government efforts at containing endless killings by bandits across the country. It would not be a surprise, if the motion on service chiefs suffers same fate with previous motions.
Speaking while ruling a security related motion earlier in the year, Dogara identified no fewer than 12 motions passed by the House on the herdsmen/ farmer clashes, as well as cattle rustling. He added that:”there have also been several resolutions on kidnapping, Boko Haram Terrorism and sundry security matters. These resolutions are more of a wakeup call to the Executive on its Constitutional obligations in governance. The accentuation of violent crimes is a chronic symptom of defects in our security architecture which we must fix,” Dogara added.
Edward Pwajok concurs. Speaking on the floor of the House, Pwajok, who chairs the House Committee on Human Rights, said “If we are to compile all motions on killings in Nigeria, it would be in volumes.”
Analysts say that the fact that the security challenges in the country still persist in spite of the many motions to tackle them show how ineffectual, House resolutions have become.
The House, no doubt appears helpless over the implementation of its motions. The Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Abdulrasak Namdas, admitted that majority of the motions passed by the Green Chamber since 2015 have not been implemented by the executive arm of government.
“Quite frankly, some of our resolutions have been implemented. But more have been ignored,” the House spokesman told Daily Sun.
However, he said there was nothing the legislature can do about the issue. “We can only make resolutions. But we don’t have the power to sack the IGP. But when we make resolutions, we expect the executive to also implement the resolutions. It is the only way that this democracy can be strengthened. In the same way, if the executive comes up with an executive bill, we expeditiously work on it, so that this work can be done in harmony. We have done our part. Nigerian have realised what we can do. We have passed vote of no confidence on two ministers. That is the only thing we can do. We cannot issue sack letters to the ministers. Whoever that is in charge, should either query whoever is there,” Namdas stated.
He further said that “in Nigeria, anytime you present motions, especially on the sack of somebody, people see it differently. Some people see it as if we are taking over the job of the executive. Whatever explanation you offer makes no meaning. They just feel you want to dictate the pace. Even the President went to Benue State and told Nigerians that this same IGP that we have asked for his sack even disobeyed presidential orders. But it is still within the purview of the executive to take action. But we have alerted Nigerians.”
Spokesman of Pan Yoruba group, Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin says the non-implementation of
House’s resolutions by the present administration is not surprising. The Afenifere spokesman told Daily Sun that waiting for the implementation of the House resolution under the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration is akin to waiting for Godot. He said this is because the government does not obey laws.
According to Odumakin,” we are under a semi military rule. This government does not obey laws. How many motions have they passed on (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, acting chairman) Ibrahim Magu? Has the government obeyed them? This government does not rule by constitution. They rule by whims and caprices.
“Look at the one billion dollars they say they are going to spend for security. You saw people like Garba Shehu, Sagay saying that the President can approve and then send to National Assembly to rubber stamp. Is that democracy? Those guys don’t believe in the parliament, they the parliament as a rubber stamp. These people don’t believe that we have a parliament. They believe we have an emir. Does an emir operate by parliament?”
Beyond the issue of lack of implementation of House’s resolutions by the executive arm of government, there are several instances where the House has stalled its own motions too. For instance, On September, 26, 2017 the House on resumption from its 2017 annual recess took a decision to revisit the Power Devolution Bill, which was thrown out during voting on the review of the 1999 Constitution, weeks earlier.
Adopting a motion moved by the House leader, Femi Gbajabiamila, the Green Chamber also resolved to set up a “ high powered” committee to interface with opinion leaders across the country on the restructuring of the polity.
In proposing the motion, Gbajabiamila had given a stirring speech on the need for the House to raise a high powered committee to interface with stakeholders across the six geo-political zones across the country over rising tension in the polity. He said it was imperative for the parliament to save the situation and urged members of the House to appreciate the fact that fate has placed on them the task of salvaging the country.
In a matter of days, the “high powered” Committee, headed by the Deputy Speaker, Yussuf Lasun was set up. Surprisingly, seven months later, the Lasun Committee is yet to begin its assignment. Similarly, nothing has been on, on the Power Devolution Bill. Ironically, the agitations for the restructuring of the polity that precipitated the adoption of the motion is yet to abate.
However, Namdas told Daily Sun that the Lasun committee is still on course. “Well I think that Committee is not dead. I think it is the timing that has changed. The committee is actually not dead. I think the chairman, given other circumstances that had come up is working on another time frame.”
Like the motion on the restructuring of the polity, the House has also failed to act on its motion to probe the utilisation of the N100bn Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) intervention fund to states for the establishment of ranches. The House had January 2017 resolved to set up a committee to probe how the N100bn was utilised. 14 months later, the committee is yet to be constituted.
Besides, many of the standing and ad-hoc committees saddled with the task of conducting investigations arising from motions have also not been forthcoming with their reports. Most times, when motions are adopted by the House on sundry issues, they are referred to either a standing or ad-hoc committees for investigations, with a time frame of between two to eight weeks to complete their assignments.
Ironically, majority of the committees take as much as 12 months or more to report back to the House. Some of the committees do not even report back at all.
Pwajok, while expressing worry over the non implementation of House’s resolutions, wonders if the Green chamber merely passes motions for the fun of it, noting that with the way things are going, the Green chamber would soon become “a house of lamentations.”