OrderPaperToday – House of Representatives, Spokesman, Mr. Benjamin Kalu, has disclosed that the standing rules of the parliament will be amended to reflect COVID-19 realities and engender citizen participation in the legislative process.
Mr. Kalu made this disclosure on Monday while speaking at the OrderPaper Online Parliamentary Engagement Nigeria (OPEN) webinar. He spoke amidst concerns that the pandemic has curtailed citizen engagement and participation in governance and that the option of applying technology in the conduct of parliamentary business is hampered by regulations.
The lawmaker specifically responded to concerns raised by fellow featured guest on the programme, Mr. Frank Tietie, Executive Director of Citizens Advocacy for Social and Economic Rights (CASER), who referenced Section 60 of the 1999 constitution which empowers the parliament to regulate the conduct of its affairs.
Mr. Tietie admitted that although electronic means of conducting legislative business is not currently captured in the House rules, the legislators were at liberty to and have been empowered by the superior and supreme law of the land to amend its procedures to regulate its conduct.
In responding, Mr. Kalu, who is the chairman of the House committee on media and public affairs, acknowledged that “Section 60 of the constitution enables us to do that but you know it takes a process. Is the intention to do so, the answer is yes. Are we prioritizing on it, the answer is yes. Is it needed?
“It is needed because the gap has been created. So we need to look at the constitution as regards our rules and see how we tailor it to reflect the need of the time to serve Nigerians better.
According to the lawmaker, “the House based on COVID-19 is going to look at reviewing the house rules to be able to serve Nigerians better especially as it concerns the use of technology in providing parliamentary services.”
The OPEN webinar is the second in the monthly series designed and implemented by OrderPaper Nigeria to bridge the gap between citizens and elected representatives in parliament, especially against the background of the global coronavirus pandemic.
The episode also featured Mr. Adebowale Olorunmola, Nigeria Representative of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD), as guest speakers alongside Messrs. Kalu and Tietie.
It was convened with technology support from dotCivics and streamed live on the verified Facebook page of OrderPaper Nigeria where hundreds of viewers followed and participated in the conversation.
The inaugural OPEN held in May, 2020 and had Mr. Akin Alabi, chairman of the House committee on inter-governmental affairs, and Ms. Nimah Arigbabu, a public policy expert, as featured guests.