OrderPaperToday – No doubt the 9th Assembly has shown superiority in the number of bills sponsored within its first quarter compared with previous assemblies.

Even though the House of Representatives from June 2019 to June 2020 sponsored a total of 853 bills, only 200 of these have progressed beyond the stage of introduction at plenary.

In a previous analysis, OrderPaper Nigeria outlined the performance of members of the House with respect to the number of bills sponsored. This piece takes the performance appraisal further by examining the progression of the bills. A similar analysis has been previously published on the 9th Senate.

The Productivity index…

The productivity index looks at progression of bills that have scaled the second reading stage and beyond. This article ranks members of the House according to the number of bills that meet this threshold. This bills productivity index is imperative due to the fact that some members have sponsored several bills which have not gone beyond the first reading. For instance, while Mr. Tajudeen Abbas (APC, Kaduna) tops the chart with 59 bills sponsored, it is interesting to note that only 4 of these have gone through 2nd reading in the House. So, performance is not all about the number of bills sponsored but how far have the drafts progressed in parliament.

The chart below lists all members of the House who have had their bills progressed beyond mere mention:

Stages of bill progression…

A bill typically goes through several stages before becoming law. Firstly, is First Reading which is just the introduction of the bill in plenary. Secondly, is the Second Reading stage where a debate on the general principles of the bill is held and vote taken whether or not it should adopted by the House and referred to a committee. Thirdly, is the Public Hearing stage whereby the committee seized with the responsibility of the bill receives public inputs and makes a report to plenary. Fourthly, is the Clause-by-Clause consideration of the bill by the entire house after it is finally through Third Reading.

Leadership factor and other intervening variables…

Although this bills progression analysis of members of the House correctly reflects productivity in terms of bills, it is imperative to mention some intervening factors that may have affected the pace of activities during the period under review.

It is unclear if being a principal officer in the House has a role to play in the bills progression chart but it is instructive that out of the 6 members captured in this report, 3 of them – Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila; Chief Whip, Muhammed Monguno; and Minority Whip, Gideon Gwani – are principal officers.

The outbreak of COVID-19 has significantly slowed the activities of the National Assembly, as the legislators were at a time forced to sit once a week instead of the usual three times.

There were also possible bottlenecks in the process of listing bills. For instance, shortly before the House embarked on its annual recess, Mr. Waive Ejirogene (APC, Delta) raised a point of order to complain that the Committee on Rules and Business had not been consistent in scheduling bills according to time of presentation. The Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, while ruling on the point of order promised that the House will develop a model for easy listing of bills.

The performance chart…

Of the 853 bills sponsored within the first year of the 9th House of Representatives, only 200 have passed 2nd reading stages and beyond. And interestingly, only 76 members out of the total 360 members of the House are captured in this productivity index which translates to 21.1%.

A further breakdown shows that 37 members have only one bill each while 16 members have 2 bills each captured and 8 members have 3 bills each. Here are the top 5 members on this productivity index:

  1. Muhammed Tahir Monguno (APC, Borno) – 21 bills

The Chief Whip of the House tops the chart in our productivity index as 21 out of his 41 bills sponsored have progressed beyond first reading. In fact, 7 of his bills have been passed by the House.

The lawmaker representing Monguno/Martel/Nganzai Federal Constituency is unarguably the most productive lawmaker in the first one year.

  1. Femi Gbajabiamila (APC, Lagos) – 12 bills

In the second position on the productivity index is the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, who has a total of 12 bills that meet this threshold.

The Speaker sponsored a total of 17 bills 6 out of which- such as Electric Power Sector Reform Act (Amendment) Bill, 2019; Physically Challenged (Empowerment) Bill, 2019; Presidential (Transition) Bill, 2019; Labour Act (Amendment) Bill, 2019; Students Loan (Access to Higher Education) Bill, 2019; and the Emergency Economic Stimulus Bill, 2020-  have been passed by the House.

  1. Uzoma Abonta (PDP, Abia) – 10 bills

The lawmaker from Abia state is also one of the most productive members both in quantity and progression as he sponsored 30 bills 10 of which have progressed beyond 1st reading.

5 of Abonta’s bills are already passed by the House. They include: Animal Health and Husbandry Technologists (Registration, etc.) Bill, 2019; Federal Capital Territory Health Insurance Agency (Establishment) Bill, 2019; Raw Materials Research and Development Council (Repeal and Re-Enactment) Bill; Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan Bill, 2019; and National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism Bill, 2019.

With 10 bills, Abonta is 3rd on the productivity index in the 1st year of the House.

  1. Ossai Nicholas Ossai (PDP, Delta) – 8 bills

The chairman, committee on treaties, protocol and agreement, has 8 bills out of his total tally of 30 that are captured under this threshold.

Two of Ossai’s bills- Federal Polytechnic Kwale, (Establishment) Bill, 2019; and National Roads Fund Bill, 2019- have been passed by the House.

  1. Dachung Bagos (PDP, Plateau) & Gideon Gwani (PDP, Kaduna) – 7 bills apiece

Both Bagos and Gwani are joined on the 5th position with 7 bills each gone beyond the first reading stage.

27 bills were sponsored by Bagos while Gwani had 15 to his name.

None of the bills sponsored by Bagos has been passed by the House but Gwani, who is the Minority Whip of the House, appears to be more successful as 4 of his bills have been passed. Gwani’s bills that have been passed include: Federal Roads Bill; Chartered Institute of Public Administration of Nigeria (Establishment) Bill, 2019; Health Records Officers (Registration ETC) Act (Repeal and Re-Enactment) Bill, 2019; and Environmental Health Officers Act (Amendment) Bill, 2019.

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