The Senate on Wednesday began the moves to legalize lobbying in the country with a bill tagged, “an Act for the regulation and registration of lobbyists in Nigeria”.
The bill sponsored by Senator Dino Melaye (APC, Kogi West) today scaled through second reading and it has been referred to the Committee of Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters for further legislative actions.
Leading debate on the bill, Melaye said the bill seeks to make provision for registration and regulation of professional lobbyists in the Legislature.
“It makes a provision for the intending lobbyist to be duly registered under the Company and Allied / Matters Act to be able to carry out the business and as such register with the Ministry of Justice to practice as lobbyist in the Senate or House of Representatives or both Houses,” he said.
Defining lobbyist, Melaye said, “It is an activity in which special interests hire well-connected professional advocates, often lawyers, to argue for specific legislation in parliament”.
“lt is a highly controversial phenomenon, often seen in a negative light by journalists and the public. Lobbying takes place at every level of government, including Federal, State and Local Governments, “he said.
Contributing to the debate, Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio cautioned his colleagues against legislating for corruption.
“Until we see who will pay the lobbyists, it will be as if we are legislating for corruption. In view of the fact that it is going to be a profession, I hereby support it so that we can all retire to be lobbyists, “he said.
In his remarks, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki said the bill when passed to law would strengthen the country’s democracy.