The Nigerian National Assembly has been known for law making. Such laws regulate the activities of government in the country. It is an arm of government that saddles with the responsibility of controlling state’s finances.
The national assembly in Nigeria has over the years plays a vital role in check mating the actions of government: Ministries, Departments and Agencies.
What Is Nigerian National Assembly?
The Federal Republic of Nigeria National Assembly is that of bicameral legislature, that is, a legislature consisting of two chambers, the Senate and the House of Representative, which as established under section 4 of the the Federal Republic of Nigeria Constitution. The Senate is comprises of 109 members, while the House of Representative comprises of 360 members.
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The Role of the Nigerian National Assembly
The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has empowered the National Assembly with the responsibility of making laws that will ensure societal order, peaceful coexistence of Nigerian people, and good governance of the Federation.
The role of the National Assembly include a broad oversight functions, and it is also vested with the powers to constitute committees of its members for the purpose of examining the bills brought to the National Assembly and scrutinizing the conduct and activities of government institutions and officials.
The Federal Republic of Nigeria Constitution has confers on the National Assembly with exclusive powers to scrutinize appointments of the Executive and confirm appointments of the executive. It must confirm such major appointment of the Exective otherwise, such government appointee cannot be given oath of office or alloted a portfolio.
Such appointment of the Executive include, Ministers, and Special Advisers, and Ambassadors, and top Judicial Officers, who might head some specified levels of courts, and the Auditor-General of the Federation, and the Chairmen, as well as, Members of the important National Commissions.
Functions Of Nigerian National Assembly
In this article, I will be explaining some vital functions of the Nigerian National Assembly. Below are some of them.
1. National Assembly Makes Laws
The Nigerian National Assembly is saddling with the responsibility of law making. Laws may come in form of Bills. A Bill, so far such bill is not a money Bill, it can be presented as a private Bill. Such Bill may relate to public funds, say, the Consolidated Fund or Taxation. For such Bill, presented before the Nigerian National Assembly to become a law, first, it must be passed by the National Assembly.
Once such Bill is passed by the National Assembly, it cannot become a law, not until the Bill is submitted to the Executive arm of the government, and has received the assent of the Executive, in this case, the assent of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Bill cannot become a law.
The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria cannot and is not expected to withhold assent to a Bill meant for the amendment of the Constitution particularly, when such Bill is certified by the President of the Senate or the Speaker of the House of Representative and/or both as having complied with the provisions of the Constitution which ordered for certain amendments, at the voting by not less than three quarters of the Senators, in the case of the Senate or Representatives, in the case of the House of Representative, and/or both of all the Members of the Legislature, or of two thirds of all the legislators, as the case may be.
Moreso, in a similar situation, the Executive cannot withhold assent to Bills as specified in section 54 of the Nigerian Constitution. However, the President may decide to withhold assent to any bill, in such case, he may wish to return such bill to the National Assembly for a reconsideration, and this can happen within 21 days, after the bill might have submitted to him for assent. Once the bill is reconsidered by the National Assembly and then passed, whether or not there is amendment, the bill is again submitted to the Executive arm of government for it to signify its assent. Once the Bill is assented to by the President, the next thing would be to publish the bill in the government gazette, after that is done, the bill will have the force of law. In other words it will become a law.
Inherent in the power of the National Assembly is to make laws, amend laws or repeal laws. It can even suspend its operation and as well, give it what I may described as ‘retrospective effect’ and in most cases, delegate the law-making powers to the executive, as the case may be.
2. National Assembly Control Finance
The power of law making, as well as, the power to raise government’s revenue resides with the National Assembly. It can also authorise expenditure of those revenue. Revenue cannot be raised, be it a tax, custom dues, and/or other charges like the imposition of license fees, without the authority of the National Assembly. The National Assembly equally authorised expenditure.
That is why the National Assembly will pass Appropriation laws in order to enable withdrawals from the Consolidated Fund. In subsequent, the Minister of Finance may present the Budget Speech, by way of reviewing Nigeria’s economic performance of the past year and as well, announce the nation’s economic proposals for the year ahead. This will however, called for debate and there after, a vote will be taken on the Appropriation Bill.
3. National Assembly’s Critical Role
Here, a special session would be held, allowing Ministers of different Ministries to defense their individual ministry’s budget. In most cases such sitting can last up to say, three hour, and then Ministers would be fielding questions from members of the National Assembly in respect to their individual Ministry and in line with their respective responsibilities.
Members of the National Assembly will put their questions, as well as, the supplementary questions to all the ministers during this session on practically every aspect of their individual administration.
And through these questions by the members of the National Assembly and their motions, the National Assembly can make the government account for its actions and programs. By so doing, members of the public are allowed to listen to some of these views and opinions during parliamentary debates hence, can decipher how government’s decisions affecting their welfare are made.
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4. National Assembly’s Representative Role
The Nigerian National Assembly is made up of individuals, who represent the people or the electorates who voted them into the National Assembly during the general election. Therefore, it is incumbent on these members of the Parliament to represent the interest of these people at the National Assembly by way of making the needs of these persons or constituents a prority, while engaging in their respective legislative activities. It is their duties too, to make the concerns of their individual constituents heard in the National Assembly.
The Nigerian National Assembly is bicameral legislature vested with powers to make laws for good governance of the federation
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