It is no longer news that campaigns for the Presidential and National Assembly elections commenced on Sunday, November 18, 2019.

Consequently, senators seeking reelection have since abandoned their legislative duties in Abuja and rushed back to their respective constituencies to campaign for votes, ahead of next year's election.

What is, however, news is that at least 17 critical bills are currently stalled in the Senate, as senators formally commence their reelection campaigns.

According to documents released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), over 60 senators are seeking reelection in the February 16, 2019 National Assembly election, while the others either lost their return tickets or voluntarily stepped down.

Findings by Bounce News revealed that the development could lead to technical shutdown of the National Assembly, as it would be difficult to form a quorum for legislative sittings.

Section 54 (1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) provides that "The quorum of the Senate shall be one-third of all the members of the legislative house". This implies that 36 senators are needed for the Upper Legislative Chamber to commence plenary.

With politics occupying centre stage from now till June 2019, some of the critical bills that are currently stalled in the Senate as senators begin their reelection campaigns include: the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB), Petroleum Industry Fiscal Bill, Petroleum Industry Administration Bill, Petroleum Host Community Bill and Gas Flaring Prohibition Bill.

Others are: Food Security Bill, Police Reform Bill, National Research and Innovation Council Bill, Public Procurement Act (Amendment) Bill, Stamp Duties (Amendment) Bill, Industrial Development (Income Tax Relief) (Amendment) Bill and National Agricultural Seeds Council Bill.

Also stalled are: State Police Bill, Chattered Institute of Entrepreneurship (Est.) Bill, Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences (Amendment) Bill, Subsidiary Legislation (Legislative Scrutiny) Bill and Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (Amendment) Bill.

Most of the proposed legislations are currently at the Committee level.

Experts say the development could also hamper quick consideration and passage of the 2019 budget, which President Muhammadu Buhari is expected to present to a joint session of the National Assembly once the 2019 - 2021 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF)/Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) is approved by the apex lawmaking body.

Speaking on the matter, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi (representing Kebbi North) argued that it was possible for the budget to be passed within one month if the National Assembly is committed.

He atrributed the delay in passing previous budgets to what he called 'clash of interest'.

“Having worked here as a Senator in the last three years, I know it is possible for us to put our heads together and pass the budget in one month. 

“But because of the way people want to include their interest, it often take this long," he said.