House Of Reps Insist No More Creation Of New Institutions

– Says Govt Must Reform Existing Laws

The House of Representatives’ Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila has expressed concerns over the creation of new government institutions in view of the depleting revenue base of the country, insisting that the National Assembly would no longer support the establishment laws.

He called for the reforms of the existing ones and removal of those no longer useful to the economy.

The Speaker gave the disclosure in his remarks to welcome the members of the House from their 2020 Christmas and New Year holidays at Wednesday plenary.

He said: “In the 2021 legislative year, we will focus the attention of the House of Representatives on bills and motions that improve ease of doing business and unlock economic potential by stripping away restrictive regulation and ending predatory regulatory practices that deprive our young people the opportunity to conquer new frontiers. In this age of technology and innovation, of daring and enterprise, we cannot risk implementing policies that handicap our ability as a nation to participate in new markets and profit from emerging industries.”

“At this time, I will crave the House’s indulgence to raise a matter of urgent importance. It has become more difficult with each appropriation cycle for the government to meet its obligations. The exploding recurrent cost of governance demands that we be more circumspect in the priorities we pursue, particularly regarding Establishment Bills in the National Assembly.

“At a time of reduced revenue, with preexisting and worsening infrastructure deficits requiring significant investments, we cannot afford to keep establishing more institutions that impose a permanent liability on government income. I am not unmindful of the realities that often necessitate such legislation, yet we cannot ignore the facts that lie before us. Let us work together to reform and strengthen the institutions already in existence, and remove those no longer fit for purpose. I believe most sincerely that this is the pathway to a legacy that we can all be proud of.”

Speaking on the ever expanding scope of insecurity in the country, Gbajabiamila also said that killings, kidnappings of citizens amongst other social vices signalled the failure of their obligations as elected officials.

“The security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government’’. With these words, the constitution obligates all of us who swear to serve in government to do everything to protect the lives and property of all citizens and promote their well-being above all else. This obligation is central to the governing contract between the government and the citizenry. Every time a citizen going about their business is killed or kidnapped, loses their property or livelihood, we have failed in our obligation. From the abundance of these failures has emerged a culture of self-help in matters of internal security that portends grave danger for our nation’s continued existence.

“If ever there was a time for us to put aside all other considerations, especially the petty concerns of partisanship and politics, it is now. If ever there was a time to set aside our differences of tribe and religion to focus on a concerted effort to defeat the challenges of insurgency and banditry, communal violence, and the violent struggle over land, that time is now.

“The forces that threaten our lives and property, our sovereignty and nationhood, do not make any exceptions based on the God we pray to or the language of our native tongue. From every region and state, citizens of every tribe and religion have suffered and will continue to suffer the pain of death and the grief of loss until we put an end once and for all to the terrors of banditry, insurgency and malignant crime in all forms.

“Here in the National Assembly, we do not command any armies or control the police. Command and control of our nation’s security infrastructure is an exclusively executive responsibility. Yet it is to us that our constituents look to when the forces of darkness descend to disrupt their lives, often irreparably. We have to reconcile the obligations we owe to our people with the constitutional limitations under which we operate. But we will not shrink from our role as advocates for the forgotten voices, and we will continue to exercise the appropriation and oversight authority vested in us to hold to account those who bear direct responsibility for the protection of all our nation’s people”, he said, calling for all hands to be on deck in tackling the security challenges.

Gbajabiamila also gave hints on tinkering with the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), and the Trafficking In Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement And Administration Act to reflect the current realities, just as he added that the Police Service Commission Reforms Bill will also be completely processed by the House.

“Honourable colleagues, the true test of government is in our ability to protect the most vulnerable amongst us. We cannot separate the goal of economic prosperity from the ambition to ensure that all our people live in a just society free from abuse of power and protected by a justice system built on fairness and the rule of law. Therefore, we will shortly begin considering Bills to amend the Administration of Criminal Justice Act. We will follow up with a long-overdue review of the Trafficking In Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement And Administration Act and other legislation that seek to deliver a justice system that works for all.

“Last year we initiated legislative action in the House of Representatives, to build a more effective framework for policing accountability. That process is ongoing, with the Police Service Commission Reform Bill currently making the way through the legislative process. We will ensure that a Bill shortly emerges from the House of Representatives, without compromising any of the objectives that necessitated our intervention in the first instance”, Gbajabiamila said.

The Speaker also called on his colleagues to brace up for the work ahead in the new legislative year.

“Honourable colleagues, we begin this new year with a renewed commitment to legislative action that drives the course of progress and brings us closer to achieving the highest aspirations we hold for our nation. We begin with renewed determination to achieve better oversight of government spending priorities through a collaborative effort with the executive arm of government and with civil society. And we remain dedicated to the lofty, yet clear ambitions we articulated in our Legislative Agenda when we resumed in the 9th Assembly”, he speaker said.