Over the
course of the past 4 (four) years, the 8th Nigerian Senate has
outperformed all others before it. Having passed over 200 bills and counting,
it is safe to say members of the incoming 9th Assembly will have
their work cut out for them and big shoes to fill. 

however does not rest solely on the shoulders of the National Assembly,
according to Section 58(3) of the Constitution; all Bills passed by the
National Assembly are presented to the President for assent. Furthermore, the
President has 30 days to either assent to the Bill or withhold assent. Does
this mean, a Bill cannot become law without the presidential assent, the answer
is no. Sub section (5) allows a Bill to become law if two – thirds majority of
both legislative chambers pass the Bill regardless of the President’s assent. 

President Buhari communicated his decision to withhold his assent and not sign
about 15 Bills presented to him by the Senate. His reasons boarder on
legislative drafting issues which he has requested are amended, some of the
laws include the National Research and Innovation Council (Est.) Bill, 2017;
National Institute of Hospitality and Tourism (Est.) Bill, 2018; National
Agricultural Seeds Council, 2018 and Subsidiary Legislation (Legislative
Scrutiny) Bill, 2018. Others are Stamp Duties (Amendment) Bill, 2018; Chattered
Institute of Entrepreneurship (Est.) Bill, 2018; Industrial Development (Income
Tax Relief) (Amendment) Bill, 2018; Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related
Offences (Amendment) Bill, 2017 and Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety
Agency (Amendment) Bill, 2017.

Though the
President is entitled to his reasons for withholding his assent, it is my fear
that these very important Bills may be swept under the carpet and Nigerians may
be deprived of the social, economic and developmental inputs these pieces of
legislation would provide to our nation. For instance, the Electronic
Transactions Bill, passed in 2017 by the National Assembly was rejected by the
President on the grounds of drafting issues, however, it is almost the end of
2018 and the Electronic Transactions Bill is yet to become law.

Many of the
benefits these rejected laws will bring to our nation include the tax
incentives for companies of pioneer status as proposed by the Industrial
Development (Income Tax Relief) (Amendment) Bill, 2018;
the introduction of
specialized training in hospitality management and the provision of a legal
structure for the certification and training of hospitality personnel in the
country as proposed by the National Institute of Hospitality and Tourism

Other benefits include, the
facilitation of stronger cooperation between government agencies and business
entities as proposed by the Institute of Entrepreneurial Establishment Bill,
which ultimately seeks to among
other things, promote stronger collaboration between banks and entrepreneurs,
as well as empower
instructors of entrepreneurship education in both
senior secondary and tertiary institutions via specially packaged trainings,
meetings, exhibitions, industrial exposures and other platforms.

The Suppression of Piracy and other
Maritime Offences Bill (2018)
the other hand seeks to
curtail illegal activities of pirates at sea as
well as to reduce the incidence of oil theft in domestic and international
waters. While the National Agricultural Seeds Council Bill, 2018 seeks to create a robust seed
industry that is regulated and will in turn will provide farmers with high
quality seeds among other things.  

The National Research and Innovation
seeks to provide for the establishment of the National Research and
Innovation Council to among other things, set national priorities on Research,
Innovation and Development and promote the gains of the application in line
with national priorities. Another important piece of legislation is the Petroleum
Industry Governance Bill, 2018,
incorporates various legislative, regulatory, Fiscal policies,
instruments and institutions that govern the Nigerian petroleum industry.

The Advance Fee Fraud and Other
Related Offences (Amendment) Bill, 2017,
also seeks to provide adequately for our nation’s fight against
corruption, as it seeks to p
rohibit and punish offences pertaining to
Advance Fee Fraud and other fraud related offences and to repeal other Acts
related therewith.

The Stamp
Duties (Amendment) Bill
the transformation of NIPOST into a thriving revenue generating company and
last but not the least, the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill of 2018, which
seeks among other things to reform the Electoral Act in the following
ways –

Provide for the instant
transmission of election results as a replacement of the manual transmission of

Provide a platform for
online publication of voter registers;

c.      Give INEC powers to utilize biometric accreditation of voters

d.    Remove unfair qualification processes

e.     Set out a more rigorous process for the determination of candidates, as
well as creates dispute resolution mechanisms.

f.       Set the maximum expense incurable by politicians  

From the above, the expedience of passing these laws is made clearer as
their importance and effects cut across all sectors of everyday life including
security, ease of doing business, governance and administration. Therefore, I
urge the President and the National Assembly to quicken any processes that are
currently outstanding and ensure the speedy assent of these bills. More
importantly, I urge Nigerians to provide oversight on these issues to the
government to ensure these Bills become law and do not remain unsigned like the
Electronic Transactions Bill which is yet to see the light of day.

Adedunmade Onibokun is a lawyer and founder of the online legal
educational  platform, Legalnaija

First Published on Ynaija