By Christiana Ekpa
Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki, has pledged the cooperation of the Senate with the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to ensure easy passage of Bills before the Upper House.
He also immediately directed that all pending and prospective bills before the Senate be made available to the NBA for their input which he said would improve the quality of such bills.
The Senate President spoke when the NBA Legislative Advocacy Committee led by Paul Erokoro (SAN) paid a courtesy visit to him at the National Assembly to solicit that the association be allowed to make its input to bills being considered by the Senate before passage.
According to a statement by the Special Assistant to the Senate President on Print Media, Chuks Okocha, Saraki said that he was in complete agreement with the NBA that their input is necessary before bills go for public hearings.
Saraki said, “l agree with you entirely as part of recommendations that we must have collaborations. I am surprised that our bills are new to you and that you don’t have free access to them. We have these bills on our website. You should be able to access them.
“Going forward, I think that instead of you waiting for us, by your experience, there are areas that require necessary input and I think we should be able to collaborate closely.
“We’ve done this in the business sector where we set up a working group with Nigeria Economic Summit Group and my office and we’ve been able to work together in some business related bills.
“Some of these bills require amendment, some are outdated, and some are not inline with today’s practice. We have been able to come out with a road map which we are following and the economic sector is enjoying the efforts in the business communities and infrastructure.
“We’ve passed the Railway Bill, Road Transport, Company and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) and Secured Transaction bills. All these are as a result of collaboration. If there are other areas that need amendment or on general issues in the society, we want the NBA to partner with us. We will be very happy to work closely with you. All we can assure you is that it is our responsibility to pass these relevant Bills.
“The society has changed drastically and the times have changed. So, as we send these Bills to you, I think there should be some initiative from your own part too and we assure you that there will be prompt attention on our part to fast-track such bills”, the Senate President.
Earlier, Mr. Erokoro, had solicited the help of the Senate President to enable the NBA make input in all pending or prospective bills before the Senate to ensure that all legalistic knots are tied before such bills are taken before public hearings.
The Chairman of the NBA Legislative Advocacy Committee also demanded for a register of all pending bills before the Senate to enable them conduct a research on the bills, stating that such partnership would enable bills passed by the National Assembly to stand the necessary legal test.
He explained that the setting up of the NBA Legislative Advocacy Committee was in fulfillment of the promise made by the National President of NBA, when he visited the Senate President earlier in the year.