LAGOS HERALD – Submitting a memo to the National Assembly on a draft legislation can seem like a big deal and we often get tempted to write it like a Ph.D. thesis.
However, the key thing is to keep it simple and to be able to make your arguments count.
Here are 10 simple rules that you must follow in writing a memo to Nigeria’s National Assembly:
Avoid Name-Calling and Biases/Sentiments
Name-calling is not a strategy.
Irrespective of what you know about the sponsor, promoter, or supporters of the bill, you must stick to the issues and not be seen as attacking other people’s personalities.
Your writing must be as objective as possible, devoid of ethnic, religious, or other biases.
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Support Your Argument with Recommendations
On each clause or sub-clause you speak to in your memo, you must recommend either an amendment to it or that the clause/sub-clause be expunged totally.
If you speak on a clause, for example, you must recommend either of the following;
i. Alternative wording
ii. Revised texts or
iii. That the texts be totally deleted.
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In your last paragraph, you must make a general recommendation on the entire bill. Your recommendation can be any of the following;
- That the bill be thrown out in its entirety
- That the bill be revised with the recommendations you have proposed in each of your arguments in the body of the memo or
iii. That the bill be adopted as it is.
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Make sure to include your contact information. The committee may elect to reach out to you to clarify what they deem ambiguous in your submissions.
Also, the committee often stores such contact information in their database and ensures you/your organisation gets invited to submit a memo/attend a public hearing on subsequent related issues to the one for which you are submitting a memo.
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Some Technical Details
If you reference any authority or an academic work, do not forget to add a footnote and reference accordingly. Note that the word ‘section’ applies to laws that have been duly passed by the National Assembly and assented to by the President.
The contents of a bill are called ‘clauses.’ Also, check for the actual name of the bill you are writing a memo on.
Bills usually have short and long titles and assigned numbers (e.g SB132, HB98 i.e Senate Bill 132, House Bill 98).
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For example, the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill, 2019 (HB98) is the short title for ‘A Bill For An Act To Provide For The Protection Of Human Rights Online, To Protect Internet Users In Nigeria From Infringement Of Their Fundamental Freedoms And To Guarantee Application Of Human Rights For Users Of Digital Platforms And/Digital Media And For Related Matters, 2019.’
Phrases such as ‘Digital Rights Bill,’ ‘Social Media Bill’ are deployed to simplify the nomenclature and make it relatable to the public.
Always check for the proper name for each draft legislation on the National Assembly’s website or through LAGOS HERALD.ng
Read the first part to this piece here: 10 Things to note when submitting a memo to the National Assembly (1)
Monday Meme is a special public programme by LAGOS HERALD designed to break down esoteric terminologies, processes, and procedures of the legislature.