By Sunday Iduh
Expression of opinion or will of a legislative body is known as resolution. The practice of submitting and voting on matters of importance is typically part of legislative business in both State and National Assemblies.
Legislators use resolutions for two purposes. First, resolutions express their consensus on matters of public importance – lawmakers usually deliberate, criticise or support on broad range of social issues, legal rights, opinions, and on decisions by the executive arm.
The second aspect is that they pass resolutions for internal and administrative purposes. Resolutions are not laws; they differ fundamentally in their purpose. However, under certain circumstances, resolutions can have the effect of law.
In all legislative bodies, the process leading to a resolution begins with a lawmaker making a formal proposal called a motion. The rules of the legislative body determine how much support must be given to the motion before it can be put to a general vote. The rules also specify what number of votes the resolution must attract to be passed. If successful, it becomes the official position of the legislative body.
As a conscious expression of opinion, a resolution is expected to be timely and to have a temporary effect. Typically, resolutions are used when passage of a law is unnecessary or unfeasible.
Resolution asserts an opinion that lawmakers want to emphasize in the interest of the public. Somehow, political frustration sometimes spurs lawmakers to declare their opposition to laws that they cannot change. Additionally, resolutions are common in times of emergency. War commonly brings resolutions in support of the nation’s armed forces and the President or Governor who, at other times, can be the subject of critical resolutions.
When resolutions are expressions of opinion, they differ fundamentally from laws. In essence, laws are intended to permanently direct and control matters applying to persons or issues in general; moreover, they are enforceable. By contrast, resolutions expressing the views of lawmakers are limited to a specific issue or event. They are usually intended to bring immediate solution to a particular problem . They are nonetheless indicative of the ideas and values of elected representatives and, as such, commonly mirror the outlook of voters.
In addition to making statements for public consumption, resolutions also play an important role in the administration of legislatures. Lawmakers pass resolutions to control internal rules on matters such as voting and conduct. Legislators also use them to conduct housekeeping: resolutions can thank a member for service to the legislature or criticize him or her for disservice. The latter form of resolution is known as censure, a rarely used formal process by which the legislature as a whole votes on whether to denounce a member for misdeeds.
Either House of a legislature can issue its own resolutions. When both Houses adopt the same motion, it is called a joint resolution. Besides carrying the greater force of unanimity, the joint resolution also has a specific legal value in state and federal government. When such a resolution has been approved by the president or a chief executive-or passed with the president’s approval-it has the effect of law. In some countries, a joint resolution is treated as a bill. It can become a law if it is properly passed and signed by the chief executive officer. In Congress, a related form of action is the concurrent resolution: it is passed in the form of a resolution of one House with the other House in agreement. Unlike a joint resolution, a concurrent resolution does not require the approval of the president.
Those who have been conversant with the proceedings of popular assemblies; who have seen how difficult it often is, where there is no exterior pressure of circumstances, to bring them to harmonious resolutions on important points, will readily conceive how impossible it must be to induce a number of such assemblies, deliberating at a distance from each other, at different times, and under different impressions, long to co-operate in the same views and pursuits.
The important thing is that the House of Assembly should always ensure that their resolutions are implemented by the relevant authorities.
This can be achieved through lobbying. It is not enough to adopt a resolution and communicate to the relevant authority without putting in place mechanism for implementation. The House can take a step further by setting up a special committee to ensure the implementation of its resolutions.