The Nigerian Senate on Wednesday began moves to legalise lobbying in Nigeria. The bill seeking for law to register and regulate lobbying as a profession has passed second reading, .
The “Bill for an Act for the Regulation and Registration of Lobbyists in Nigeria and for other matters connected therewith, 2016’’ is sponsored by Senator Dino Melaye, (APC, Kogi West).
While presenting his lead debate, Melaye argued that the National Assembly needed to recognise and approve professional lobbyists in the legislature.
Melaye said that lobbyists will need to register with Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). They would also have to register with the Ministry of Justice. These will enable them to practice as lobbyist in the Senate or House of Representatives.
What is lobbying?
Senator Dino Melaye defined lobbying as an activity in which special interests hire well-connected professional advocates, often lawyers, to argue for specific legislation in parliament.
He said that although the bill looked controversial and perceived as negative, lobbying took place at every level of government.
“The bill will create stricter registration requirement for lobbyists. It will also require lobbyists to disclose how much they make and spend on lobbying.
“The bill will ban lobbyist from paying for gifts and food as a means of inducement. It would also give oversight agencies more powers to investigate violation of ethics laws,” he said.
The Bill will offer legislators opportunity to be more informed about a bill before it comes for reading.
Lobbyists will be readily available to inform legislators of the idea behind a Bill they’re pushing.
Many senators, including Ben Bruce, Godswill Akpabio, and Mohammed Ali Ndume, who spoke, supported the Bill.
They argued that when passed, the Bill would help legislators to sponsor individual bills.
The senate referred the Bill to its Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, with a directive to report back in three weeks.