Thirty-nine Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have frowned at the decision of the National Assembly to drop off legislative activities at a time when its role is more critical than ever before, describing it as ill-timed and illogical.
The groups said prior to the ongoing vacation, the lawmakers were conducting very important investigative hearings into the mismanagement of public funds by various ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of the Federal Government as well as into the huge Chinese loans and their terms, among others.
This was contained in a statement signed by the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) and 38 other CSOs at the weekend.
It noted that citizens who were rattled by the revelations coming out of those hearings were waiting with keen interest for their logical conclusions and outcomes. Hence it was good to see these activities continue even into the vacation of the lawmakers.
“It was therefore shocking to wake up to the August 19th directive by the leadership of the House of Representatives suspending all legislative activities including those investigative hearings that had captivated the nation.
“Given the importance of the hearings and the limited time available for the National Assembly to conduct reforms in nation’s electoral laws, review the Constitution, consider the 2021 Appropriation Bill, and attend to numerous other pending legislative assignments, there was no justification or reason given for the illogical step taken by the House of Representatives to suspend committee activities.
“We dare say that even if this decision was taken with good intentions, it is ill-advised, ill-timed and unhelpful as it fuels all forms of conspiracy theories and interpretation of collusion and attempt to cover up fraud, especially given that the National Assembly is already plagued by a lack of credibility or public trust”, the statement read.
The CSOs said the National Assembly sat for only 149 days instead of the 181 days prescribed by the constitution .
It noted that the legislative year is June 2019 to July 2020; two months vacation,
56 days public holiday,6-week Yuletide vocation,42 days,7-week coronavirus break,49 days in addition to 62 days for Saturdays and Sunday this means 216 days out of 365 days in a year.
“Many had thought that owing to the intermittent closure of the parliament in the wake of the pandemic and given the critical issues requiring legislative attention, that the lawmakers could have devised means of extending its plenary sittings and meeting the constitutionally-mandated 181 sitting days in a legislative year given the disruptions of the Covid-19 pandemic”, it stated.
The CSOs posit that the NASS should join the Executive in finding solutions to the unprecedented challenges facing the country and ensure that there is no Executive overreach as emergency powers are being invoked to implement a range of measures, ostensibly to check the spread of the Coronavirus in Nigeria.
- Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD)
- Centre for Democratic Research and Training (CRDDERT)
- Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC)
- Media Rights Agenda (MRA)
- Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD)
- Socio-Economic Right and Accountability Project (SERAP)
- Zero-Corruption Coalition (ZCC)
8 Accountability Maternal New-born and Child Health in Nigeria (AMHiN)
- Partners on Electoral Reform
- Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre, PLAC
- African Centre for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL)
- National Procurement Watch Platform
- Say NO Campaign—Nigeria
- Resource Centre for Human Rights and Civil Education (CHRICED)
- Social Action
- Community Action for Popular Participation
- Borno Coalition for Democracy and Progress (BOCODEP)
- Global Rights
- Alliance for Credible Elections (ACE)
- Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth & Advancement (YIAGA)
- Tax Justice and Governance Platform
- Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth, Nigeria
- Women In Nigeria
- African Centre for Leadership, Strategy & Development (Centre LSD)
25.Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre(RULAAC)
26.Women Advocate Research And Documentation Centre
27.Community Life Project
28.Nigerian Feminist Forum
29.Alliances for Africa
- Spaces for Change
31.Nigerian Women Trust Fund
33.Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa
- BudgiT Foundation
- State of the Union (SOTU)
37.Femi Falana Chamber
38.HEDA Resource Centre
39.Conscience for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution