A bill is a document that is presented to the national assembly for the purpose of deliberation, prior to being passed into law. However, before a bill can be make a law, it requires the signature of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
What are the Types of Bills in Nigeria?
There are two major types of bills in Nigeria and they are Appropriations Bills otherwise called (National Budget) and bills seeking to amend the Constitution (also called Legislative Bills).
- Appropriations Bills (National Budget)
- Constitutional Amendment Bill (also called Legislative Bills)
The mode of operation of the two types of bills mentioned are a little bit different, but the major difference is as follows: The Budget (Appropriation Bill) usually comes from the executive (the Office of the President) and is then sent to the National Assembly.
Sometimes, the Appropriation Bill does not receive the support of the National Assembly but is sent back to the Presidency (The Executive) with some improvements. Usually, these improvements are made, and then the Bill is sent back to the National Assembly for approval. After this is done, the bill becomes a law.
Legislative Bills, on the other hand, usually start from the National Assembly, and then after consideration, is passed to the President for his signature, thus making them into laws.
Sometimes, the President refuses to sign a bill, but instead, returns it to the house with certain recommendations. This process is supposed to make the bill an even better law, with more benefits to society in general.
Let us now turn our attention to understanding better the workings of the National Assembly of Nigeria. The following paragraphs highlight some facts and the workings of the Nigerian National Assembly
The National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is the arm of government saddled with the task of making laws in Nigeria. It was established under section 4 of the Nigerian Constitution. The National Assembly is made up of a Senate with 109 members and then a 360-member House of Representatives which is modeled after the federal Congress of the United States, and is supposed to guarantee equal representation for every state, regardless of size, so as to ensure fair and equitable law-making processes. There are 3 Senators to every 36 states. The National Assembly, like many other functionaries of the Nigerian government, is based in Abuja, which is the Capital of Nigeria.
The National Assembly, by law, sits for four years, after which time the President is required to dissolve it and call a new Assembly into a session. This is done after elections are held to bring in new members into the chambers. There is no cap to the number of tenures that a member of the National Assembly may serve.
The Assembly has broad oversight functions within the workings of the Nigerian government and has the power to set up committees of its members to look into bills and the nomination and appointment, as well as the conduct of government officials. The National Assembly has not been without scandals of its own, however, there have been reports and cases of corruption of different levels. The National Assembly has also witnessed the election and removal of several Presidents of the Senate, slow passage or sometimes deliberate non-passage of private member’s bills and even the creation of ineffective committees to satisfy numerous conflicting interests.
The National Assembly has not been very effective. Despite having more than a two-thirds majority, thereby controlling the Assembly People’s Democratic Party (PDP) then ruling party, and also Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan also of the PDP, the National Assembly was not able to unite with the executive but was rather better known for their disagreements. Some sections of the Assembly further went on to accuse the former President Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan of being too slow to implement policy.
Under some presidents, the National Assembly have been called a ‘Rubber Stamp’ because of their unopposed stance to any bill or policy emanating from the executive, while the Assembly has made strong and well-publicized efforts to assert its authority and independence against the executive. In Nigeria, however, the National Assembly is still largely viewed in negative terms by the media and many of the Nigerian people, owing largely to the prevalent corruption, and the fact that the ineffective assembly takes up so much of the Nations’s yearly spending. The Nigerian National Assembly is reputed to receive the highest salaries in the world.
The Senate (which is called the Upper House) has the unique power to impeach judges and other high officials of the executive which include the Auditor-General of the federal Republic, and the members of the electoral and revenue commissions. However, this power is subject to a prior request by the President, and there have been cases of the Executive going ahead to remove high officers without following due process. The Senate also confirms the President’s nomination of ministers to serve in the presidential cabinet, senior diplomats, top federal judicial officers and heads of independent federal commissions like the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). During the first tenure of President Muhammadu Buhari, in which time Bukola Saraki as Senate President, there was a long running disagreement between the executive and the National Assembly, in which the latter refused to confirm Labaran Magu as head of the EFCC, but he continued to perform this role with the Presidential backing, despite not being confirmed by the Senate.
Before any bill may become law, it must pass through, and be agreed to by both the House and the Senate, and then also the President. Should the President delay or refuse assent (this is called veto), the National Assembly may still pass the law by two-thirds of both chambers, therefore overruling the President’s veto, and then the bill may still be passed into law, even without the President’s consent. Even though the present Assembly has not hidden its preparedness to overrule the executive where they disagree, some say this is mere talk, and will probably never happen. That sentiment is an obvious reference to the fact that the National Assembly has very seldom ever raised a different opinion to that of the Executive, and has at different times been called a ‘Rubber Stamp.’
That’s all about the types of Bills In Nigeria.
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