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House of reps: We’ll review our rules to reflect COVID-19 realities

House of reps: We’ll review our rules to reflect COVID-19 realities
July 01
17:25 2020

Benjamin Kalu, spokesman of the house of representatives, says the standing rules will be reviewed to reflect COVID-19 realities and engender citizen participation in the legislative process.

Kalu disclosed this on Monday while speaking at the OrderPaper Online Parliamentary Engagement Nigeria (OPEN) webinar.

The decision followed concerns raised about how the pandemic has curtailed citizen engagement and participation in governance, with the option of using technology to conduct parliamentary business being hampered by regulations.

Frank Tietie, executive director of citizens advocacy for social and economic rights (CASER), who was a guest speaker at the event, made reference to section 60 of the 1999 constitution which empowers the house to regulate the conduct of its affairs.

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Tietie affirmed that although electronic means of conducting legislative business is not currently captured in the house rules, the lawmakers can amend the procedures to regulate its conduct.

In response, Kalu, who is the chairman of the house committee on media and public affairs, acknowledged that section 60 of the constitution supports reviewing the procedures, but “it takes a process.”

“Is the intention to do so, the answer is yes. Are we prioritising it? The answer is yes. Is it needed? It is needed because the gap has been created. So we need to look at the constitution as regards our rules and see how we tailor it to reflect the need of the time to serve Nigerians better,” he said.

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“The house, based on COVID-19, is going to look at reviewing the house rules to be able to serve Nigerians better especially as it concerns the use of technology in providing parliamentary services.”

The OPEN webinar is the second in the monthly series designed and implemented by OrderPaper Nigeria to bridge the gap between citizens and elected representatives, especially against the background of the coronavirus pandemic.

The episode also featured Adebowale Olorunmola, country representative of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD), Nigeria, as guest speaker.

It was convened with technology support from dotCivics and streamed live on the Facebook page of OrderPaper Nigeria.

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The inaugural OPEN held in May 2020 and had Akin Alabi, chairman of the house committee on inter-governmental affairs, and Nimah Arigbabu, a public policy expert, as featured guest speakers.

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