By Aaron Ossai
Worried by rising cases of violent crimes across the country, issues of insecurity, electoral reform; constitution amendment among others will top the agenda of members of the House of Representatives as they resume plenary session today after the Christmas and New Year recess.
The Chairman, House Committee on Media and Publicity, Hon. Akin Rotimi jnr., in a statement issued yesterday recalled that Nigeria is currently experiencing rising security challenges in the form of kidnapping, banditry, and other criminal activities.
He said that even Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, has not been left out, and has witnessed the abduction and murder of innocent citizens explaining that with such a crisis, “expectations are rife that the People’s House will take bold steps in addressing insecurity from a legislative standpoint.”
Another area of concern for the 10th House is the issue of Constitution Amendment which he recalled that there have been increased calls from stakeholders, on the need for the National Assembly to cure the 1999 Constitution of its perceived defects.
“The efforts of previous assemblies which have resulted in five alterations to the document between 2003 and 2023, is widely considered inadequate. Agitations for amendments to key areas have intensified, including calls for the establishment of state and community-led police structures; justice sector reforms; fiscal federalism; strengthening local government administration and increased devolution of power.
“As the House resumes, Nigerians would be looking to the Hon. Benjamin Kalu-led House Committee on Constitution Review to make progress in the efforts for further amendments to the 1999 Constitution (as amended)”, he added.
On electoral reforms, he said “As preparations intensify for the off-cycle elections in some states of the federation in the second half of 2024, the calls for electoral reforms will continue to dominate conversations in the country.”
“Nigerians will be looking up to the National Assembly for key reforms of the electoral process as we promised in our legislative agenda, to, amongst other things, improve the transparency and credibility of democratic ritual of elections, provide for stiff sanctions for electoral offences, and stem the judiciary’s influence on the electoral process, and ‘over-judicialisation’ of electoral outcomes in a way that undermines public confidence, and could erode the legitimacy of political leadership.
“In line with the commitment to Anti-Corruption and Improved Legislative Oversight under its Agenda in Strengthening Good Governance, the House streamlined the mandates of committees to avoid overlap and conflicts. It also rationalised the membership of committees to enable more informed decision-making, better management of workload, and improved legislative quality.
“On resumption, the House is expected to undertake more public hearings (including investigative panels) to probe a number of issues before the various Standing Committees.
“Between June and December 2023, the House constituted 30 ad-hoc Committees to conduct investigative hearings and make recommendations on pressing national issues for necessary legislative action. With the reports of 25 already submitted and four considered, the reports of the other Committees will occupy the front burner on resumption”, the statement read.