The House of Representatives Ad Hoc Committee on COVID-19, which was set up by the legislative chamber to oversee the activities of the Federal Government against the pandemic, laid its report on Thursday.
Chairman of the House Committee on COVID–19, Haruna Mshelia, laid the report on the pandemic over three years after the panel was set up for the task.
While the committee was constituted on April 28, 2020, Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, had on March 19, 2020, inaugurated the committee, with a mandate to coordinate the activities of the House on the disease.
Gbajabiamila, while inaugurating the House committee, had said the panel was set up as part of the resolve by the parliament to constantly work for the best interests of the Nigerians.
The Speaker said, “The 18-man committee we have come to inaugurate reflects the intention of the House of Representatives to engage the executive arm of government in a partnership that serves the best interests of the Nigerian people, as we join hands to confront and conquer the most severe challenge of our lives.”
Gbajabiamila had directed the committee to ensure that the operations of the PTF are conducted to meet international best practices.
Meanwhile, the House passed no fewer than eight bills for third reading at its sitting on Thursday.
They include legislation titled, ‘A Bill for an Act to Repeal the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission Act, Cap. R7 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and Enact the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission Bill to Grant the Commission Enforcement Powers in the Monitoring of Accruals to and Disbursement of Revenue from the Federation Account and to bring the Act in conformity with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and for Related Matters.’
When the bill becomes law, RMAFC would be empowered to prosecute illegal salaries and allowances in ministries, departments and agencies of the federal and state governments as well as the arms of the governments, including the National Assembly.
The House passed the bill in concurrence with the Senate which earlier passed it.
Another harmonised legislation passed was titled, ‘A Bill for an Act to Establish the Real Estate Regulatory Agency of the Federal Capital Territory to Provide Globally Acceptable Standard of Service and Transparent Administration of the Business of Real Estate Development, and Prescribed Minimum Standards for the Conduct of the Business of Real Estate Development in the Federal Capital Territory and for Related Matters.’
The House also reviewed and passed ‘A Bill for an Act to Repeal the Explosives Act, 1964 and Enact the Explosives Bill, to Regulate the Manufacture, Storage, Possession, Use, Distribution, Purchase, Sale, Transportation, Importation and Exportation of Explosives and for Related Matters.’
The bill is one of the three that failed to get presidential assent and was sent back to the National Assembly by the outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari.
Fulata recalled that the bills – the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons (Establishment) Bill, 2023 (HB.1596); National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Act (Amendment) Bill, 2023 (HB.2195); and the Chartered Institute of Digital Forensics of Nigeria (Establishment) Bill, 2023 (HB.1491) – were passed by the National Assembly and transmitted to the President.
He said, “Some fundamental issues which require fresh legislative action emerged after critical analysis of the bills in the Presidency,” praying the House to “rescind its decision on the bills as passed and commit the same to the Committee of the Whole for reconsideration.”
Following the adoption of the motion, the House reviewed the bills.
Another legislation, ‘A Bill for an Act to Amend the National Assembly Library Trust Fund (Establishment) Act, No. 11 of 2022 provides for an Additional Source of Funds for the Management of the Library to enhance the capacity of Legislators and National Assembly staff and for Related Matters (HB.2223),’ passed the third reading.
The House had approved that the sum of N255m appropriated for the National Assembly e-Library in the Appropriation Act 2022/2023 is vired to the recurrent account of the National Assembly Library Trust Fund as part of the initial take-off grant.
The House also approved that N118m appropriated for the National Assembly Dashboard in the Federal Government budget should also be vired to the recurrent account of the NASS Library Trust Fund.
The approval was sequel to the unanimous adoption of a motion of urgent public importance moved by a member of the House, Jonathan Gbefwi, at the plenary on Tuesday.
There was also ‘A Bill to Repeal the National Fertilizer Quality Control Act, No 23, 2019 and Enact the National Fertilizer and Agricultural Pesticide Control Bill to provide an Improved Regulatory Framework for the Manufacture, Importation, Sale and Distribution of Fertilizer and Agricultural Pesticides in Nigeria; and for Related Matters (HB.2224).’
The House also passed ‘A Bill for an Act to Amend the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Act, Cap. N30, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 to strengthen the operations of the Agency, empower the Agency to Establish Laboratories, update the list of Dangerous Drugs, review the penalty provisions, enhance the power of the Agency to Prosecute Drug-Related Offences and issue Subsidiary Legislation; and for Related Matters (HB.2195).’
Another passed legislation was titled ‘A Bill for an Act to Repeal the National Examinations Council (NECO) Act, Cap. N37, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and Enact the National Examinations Council Bill to Provide for making NECO National Common Entrance Examination (NCEE), the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BSCE) and the Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (Internal) (SSCE) (1) Compulsory for Every Nigerian Child and Provide for the Removal of Clause ‘Without Prejudice to the Existing Powers and Function of the West African Examinations Council (WAEC)’ from the Act and to Design the Scope of the Power and Functions of the Governing Board of the Council and for Related Matters (HB.2206).’
There was also ‘A Bill for an Act to Amend National Business and Technical Examinations Board Act, Cap. N12, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 to improve the Scope of the Board, to Undertake Contemporary Business and Technical Examinations in Line with the National Policy on Education, Provide the General Purpose of the Results, Certificates and Awards Issued by the Board; and for Related Matters (HB.1492).’