By Haruna Salami
Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, has said that presiding officers of both chambers of the National Assembly are not in any position to determine the outcome of the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill under consideration.
Lawan made this known against the backdrop of insinuations and misgivings by some Nigerians that the leadership of the National Assembly was bent on accommodating contentious clauses in the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill presently before it, that would stop the transmission of election results electronically.
Speaking at the inauguration and swearing-in ceremony of the Chief Commissioner and Commissioners of the Public Complaints Commission in Abuja, the Senate President disclosed that the upper chamber would consider the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill within the next two weeks upon presentation of a report by the Committee on INEC.
Lawan therefore advised Nigerians to engage their representatives in both chambers of the National Assembly on whatever issues they feel strongly about in the bill.
“The National Assembly is embarking on the amendment of the Electoral Act, probably by next week or within the next two weeks.
“It is very important that those who feel very strongly about any amendment that they think should be effected in the Electoral Act should contact or talk to their members of the House of Representatives as well as Distinguished Senators.
“I want to state categorically here that presiding officers are not the ones to determine what is carried or what is not.
“So, it is very important that in the same way, the Public Complaints Commission is utilized properly by the general public.”
The Senate President further charged the newly sworn-in Commissioners of the Public Complaints Commission to shun acts that would stifle fairness, transparency and accountability in the discharge of their duties.
Lawan reminded them that the Commission is a machinery for the control of administrative excesses, non-compliance or non-adherence to administrative procedures or abuse of power.
“It is principally an organ of government setup to redress complaints lodged by aggrieved citizens or residents of Nigeria against administrative injustice”, he said.
The Senate President assured the Commission of the support of the National Assembly in the area of funding and amending the Public Complaints Commission Act 1975, which has not been amended in the last forty-five years since its enactment.
“We are not unaware of some challenges confronting the Commission, the a National Assembly is making efforts to overcoming the challenges facing the Commission, and that is largely funding.
“The Ombudsman institution is acclaimed worldwide as the machinery for the control of administrative excesses and providing the due reliefs and redress to citizens and foreigners residing in Nigeria”, Lawan added.
Earlier, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, said the Public Complaints Commission was conceived to, amongst other things, address issues of Human Rights abuses.
“It is clear that the Public Complaints Commission is a product of necessity due to Human Rights abuses, societal victimization, high-handedness and other forms of practices of maladministration.
“Such ugly practices had long been noticed in Nigeria of all places, and promoted the birth of the Commission in 1975, and its metamorphosis into a statutory vehicle in 2004”, Gbajabiamila said