National Assembly tackles economy, electoral reforms

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John Alechenu, Abuja

Nigeria’s dwindling economy, electoral reforms and
the need to expedite action on the passage of
critical bills would top the legislative agenda
as the
National Assembly resumes next Tuesday,
senators and the members of the House of
Representatives were inundated with complaints
about the harsh economy during various
consultative meetings with their constituents
during the break.
Apart from the economy, the issue of electoral
reforms would also receive the attention of the
lawmakers, especially those in the House of
Representatives.

The Minority Leader of the House, Leo Ogor (PDP,
Delta), who was not convinced by the reasons
adduced by the Independent National Electoral
Commission for the postponement of the Edo State
governorship election, said inconclusive elections
and issues relating to the electoral process would
feature on the agenda.
In a telephone interview with our correspondent,
on Thursday, Ogor said, “I think this (issue of
inconclusive elections) is going to be a matter that
would probably be discussed. I am not
comfortable with the shifting of elections by INEC.
The number of inconclusive elections is
worrisome.”
He described the stalemate over elections into
legislative seats in some state constituencies in
Rivers State as well as the National Assembly as
very embarrassing.
He also described the reasons given for the recent
postponement of the Edo State governorship
election as “one too many.”
Commenting on the issue, Patrick Asadu (PDP,
Enugu), said it would not be out of place for the
issue to be tabled and discussed in the interest of
democracy.
Asadu said, “When the National Assembly resumes,
we hope to bring up the matter and have a debate
on what INEC is up to and why they have not been
able to conclude one election after another.”
However, a member of the House from Edo State,
Peter Akpatanson (APC, Edo) said the House had
better things to deal with than to dabble into the
issue of the postponement of the Edo governorship
election.
He maintained that INEC had already given a
satisfactory reason for postponing the Edo election.
He also said, “Even on the matter of inconclusive
elections, INEC has held over 100 successful
elections and only a few were declared
inconclusive and if you look at the number, it is
negligible.”
Also speaking on the issue, Patrick Aisowieren
(APC, Edo) said he expects the House to tackle
issues of urgent national importance capable of
improving the lives of ordinary Nigerians.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and
Public Affairs, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, said that the Senate
would, on resumption, give priority attention to the
economy.
He said, “When we resume, we will give priority
attention to the economy. This is to tell you the
level of seriousness with which we intend to
pursue this matter.
“You know, the Senate is made up of individuals
with diverse experiences and expertise. We will
meet and brainstorm on ways to work with the
executive to solve our economic problems.”
Asked to comment on the specific nature of the
Senate’s intervention, the spokesperson said, “We
have to meet first before taking a decision. I don’t
want to preempt my colleagues.”
Speaking in a similar vein, his counterpart in the
House of Representatives, Abdulrazak Namdas,
said, “We will have to sit and agree on how to go
about it when we resume. I cannot single-handedly
say what and what we will take first.”
It will be recalled that the President of the Senate,
Bukola Saraki, had earlier in the week told
reporters that the economy, more than anything
else, will receive the attention it deserves when the
Senate resumes plenary.
He told reporters in Ilorin that, “We are going to
have a comprehensive debate on fixing the
country’s economy when we resume next week.
We understand the pains that Nigerians are feeling
and we do not take this for granted.
“Additionally, the Senate intends to invite
everybody involved in the management of the
economy to address the Nigerian people through
the parliament on the steps that are being taken to
get us out of this mess.
“We fully intend to hold all those involved in the
economic management of the country accountable.
However, we will do so in a manner that is
transparent and there will be no cover-up. We will
make tough recommendations where necessary.”

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