By Ahmed Osumanu Halid
A bill is a proposed law. A bill is not a law. It is an intended law.
It is laid or brought to Parliament mostly by the Attorney General or a Minister in charge of the sector on behalf of the Government.
Before it gets to Parliament, Cabinet will consider it first since it emanates from the bosom of Cabinet or the Executive.
For instance, a sports fund bill must emanate or come from the sector Minister in charge of Sports or a housing bill should emanate from the Minister of Works and Housing to Parliament, (the house of our representatives) receives the bill.
The bill is accompanied by memorandum, that gives an idea, objective and the rationale behind the bill.
The Speaker reads the title of the Bill through a clerk at the table. After which the Speaker refers it to either a committee in charge of Youth and Sports or joint committee. Because it has a financial implication, the Finance Committee will partner with Youth and Sports Committee to consider the bill. But with the housing bill, it goes straight to the Works and Housing Committee for consideration and report to the entire body or house.
It is important to know that the main tools used by Parliament in its functions are the Constitution and the Standing Orders of the House. When it comes to an amendment, the previous law will be considered or consulted in making the current law.
The Constitution is always supreme. No law supersedes it.
The stages for converting the bill into law include first reading, second reading, consideration stage and finally the third reading.
Let me expatiate a bit on the consideration stage, it is the stage where the bill will receive what I may term clean shaving. There will be additional information to enrich the bill or deletions of information.
Parliament or the members use words like insertions or deletions. Here, the rules of debate are relaxed as a member can speak or contribute many times without he or she being limited.
The maze or the (authority) of Parliament is tilted, that gives room for the relaxation of the rules during this stage.
This is the legislative role of Parliament.
After the third reading, the bill is passed. It is still not a law until the President assents to it and it is gazetted.
The name now changes to an Act of Parliament.
So, laws passed by Parliament are called Acts.
The Acts contain sections not articles. The Constitution contains Articles.
The law will receive its name, year of passage and the number.
For example, the ADR ACT is known as the Alternative Dispute Resolution Act,2010, Act 798.
As citizens, we should do well and understand the laws that govern our activities.
We should also have interest in the work of our representatives in Parliament and how they make our laws.
Having copies of the Constitution and the various laws will help individuals in their assigned roles, understand their rights and be conversant with the current legal situation.