The Nigerian National Assembly is bicameral legislature vested with powers to make laws for good governance of the federation. The functions of the National Assembly include the making of laws, the controlling of the finances of the State and also a critical role to check the actions of government and the Ministries.
The Constitution has vested in the National Assembly the power to make laws for the peace, order and good governance of the Federation. The Assembly also has broad oversight functions and is therefore empowered to establish committees of its members to scrutinize bills and the conduct of government institutions and officials.
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The power to make laws is exercisable by Bills. All Bills, other than a Private Bill or a Private Member’s Bill, must be presented by a Minister. A Bill may be presented as a private Bill, provided it is not a Money Bill, that is, a Bill related to taxation, the Consolidated Fund or any other public fund. Every Bill which is presented must be passed by the National Assembly for it to become an Act.
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Inherent in the power to make laws is the power to amend or repeal it or to suspend its operation or even to give it retrospective effect and to delegate the law-making powers to the executive.
The power to make laws includes the power to raise revenue and authorise expenditure. No revenue can be raised by way of a tax or the imposition of license fees, customs dues and other charges without the authorisation of Parliament. Expenditure must equally be authorised by Parliament. Appropriation laws are accordingly passed to enable withdrawals from the Consolidated Fund.
Here, a special session would be held, allowing Ministers of different Ministries to defend their individual ministry’s budget.
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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.
Members of Parliament represent the people who had voted for them in the general election. As such, they are responsible to look into the needs of their constituents and to make their concerns heard in Parliament.
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