President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan has said that the cooperation between the executive and legislature is absolutely necessary to justify the enormous resources expended on bills for the good governance of the nation.
This is as the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila has advocated for the expansion and professionalisation of the Legal Department of the National Assembly for optimal legislative performance.
Gbajabiamila, who expressed concern over the quality of legislation emanating from the Federal Legislature, said the National Assembly Legal Department must be strengthened to deliver on its mandate of ensuring clean copies of draft legislation that emanate from the federal legislature.
Senate President, Ahmad Lawan expressed optimism that the initiative of the AGF would result in a seamless, rancour-free and speedy passage of bills.
Lawan, while commending the AGF over the initiative to send draft bills to the National Assembly for their input before they are eventually transmitted officially, advised that all heads of relevant government agencies that are to be affected by certain bills be involved in the process of preparing the bills before being transmitted to the Legislature.
Speaking in turn, Gbajabiamila said the decision by the President to withhold assent to some bills passed by the National Assembly was sometimes due to mistakes in the drafting of the final clean copies of the document and allayed fears of vetoing bills rejected by the President.
According to him; “As such, it has become imperative that the department is manned by professionals and expanded for optimal performance, which would eliminate common errors.”
These were contained in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Lanre Lasisi, in which he said was during a working visit to the leadership of the National Assembly by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami on Thursday.
While agreeing with the proposal of the Attorney General on how to fast-track the passage of executive bills, the Speaker said beyond that, “Much of the responsibility of passing laws lies with the National Assembly, and going by the number of bills that emanate from here, we pass quite a number of bills. In the process of doing that, of course, we cannot rule out the possibility of which thoroughness and quality are being affected.
“That is not to say the legislators are not doing their jobs; theirs is to bring forth these ideas. Even in advanced democracies, legislative drafting is apart, it’s an art that requires deft professional approach, and legislators are not necessarily professional draftsmen.
“In every democracy, much of these works are done behind the scene by professionals. What I’m saying is that in the National Assembly, we need a more robust expanded, professional legal department.
“If you notice, a lot of these bills were sent back because the errors were almost embarrassing, sometimes grammatical errors. For instance, one punctuation error can change the meaning of a whole provision of the bill. This is one area I want us to look at in terms of the necessary funds needed for the tools of our trade,” the Speaker said.
Earlier, the Attorney General and minister of Justice expressed concerns that Nigerian laws need to comply with national interest and global realities, adding that President Muhammadu Buhari is keen on addressing key policy issues that will have significant impacts on the lives of the average Nigerians, namely the economy, anti-corruption and security.
Malami said that his visit to the National Assembly leadership was anchored on the need to explore harmonious working relationships with the legislature, adding that his ministry is proposing to eliminate bottlenecks hindering the smooth passage of Executive bills by sending draft bills to the National Assembly for the lawmakers to add their input before formal presentation to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) and subsequent transmission to the lawmakers.