NASS is open to informed criticisms – Lawan

…Says We II’ continue to review Covid pandemic measures

By Ignatius Okorocha

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan said on Wednesday that the National Assembly is open to informed criticisms as long as they will add value to  law making process.

Lawan said the Federal lawmakers would readily welcome constructive criticisms and valuable contributions that would enhance better legislation for the governance of the country.

The Senate President spoke in Abuja at the unveiling of a publication titled: A Political Economy of Pandemics and Consequences of COVID-19 for Nigeria, which was produced by the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies(NILDS).

Lawan was excited at the presence at the occasion of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi and thanked him and his other colleague traditional rulers for their support and understanding.

“Your Majesty, let me commend you and the body of our traditional rulers across the country. You have shown understanding and total support and commitment to the National Assembly.

“Every one of our functions, that you are invited, you and the Sultan, you will always be there. This is what we expect from Nigerians.

“We want to have valuable contributions that will make the National Assembly legislate better for the governance of this country.

“We also want to open up the opportunity for Nigerians and all stakeholders really, to have the opportunity and the basis for informed criticisms on what we do because that benefits us. It makes us do better and Your Majesty, I believe that you are setting a very good example of what we expect citizens to do.

“The National Assembly is the National Assembly of Nigerians. We are only there to represent Nigerians.

“Anytime we do things that Nigerians are not happy with, show us the right thing to do. We are here to take our mistakes and correct everything that we feel are justified.

“And of course, legislation is not for members of the National Assembly to do alone. Legislation is for stakeholders, key stakeholders particularly, to contribute,” Lawan said. 

Commenting on COVID-19 pandemic and the Nigeria’s situation, Lawan said the National Assembly would continue to undertake a thorough review of all the emergency measures, including relevant legislations, to determine their effectiveness and prepare the government for future emergencies.

“We will equally maintain oversight of government interventions to ensure comprehensive reporting on how funds and other resources were utilised by relevant government agencies during the pandemic,” Lawan said.

The Senate President said the National Assembly is also in regular contact with these agencies to ensure due diligence in the procurement and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Lawan commended the Governing Council of the Institute for approving the worthy project and making critical suggestions that enriched the content of the book.

He also applauded NILDS and it’s Director-General, Prof. Abubakar Sulaiman for the laudable effort as well as for repositioning and strengthening the Institute to deliver on its mandate of providing technical and expert advice to the National Assembly and other institutions of democracy in Nigeria.

Lawan however challenged the Institute to do more in the area of specialised research, providing technical inputs and capacity building for legislators and staff at the national, sub-national and regional levels.

Earlier in address, National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies Director-General, Prof. Abubakar Sulaiman  said in its attempt to harmonize Fiscal Measures for COVID-19 Response in Nigeria, “the Institute equally analysed critical legislations that pertain to the declaration and management of emergencies including the Quarantine Act and the National Health Act, developed motions for presentation on the floor of the two Chambers, drafted legislations aimed at strengthening and reforming the health sector and proposed legislative strategies not only for protecting the economy but also the economic rights, particularly of the vulnerable. 

“Steps were also taken by the Institute to strengthen the oversight role of the legislature over COVID-19 funds and spending. This was done through a series of oversight questions developed by the Institute and submitted to Leadership.”

According to him,”At its meeting of 15th December, 2020, the Institute’s Governing Council approved the book project and made useful observations about its contents. 

“A key recommendation of the Council was the need to include the issue of vaccine development and nationalism, which at the time were forming part of the international discourse on the pandemic. The final draft was again submitted to Council in March, 2021 having gone through additional review, proofing, language editing and layout.”

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