On Monday, 10th of June, 2019, members of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly were inaugurated. The seventh House of Assembly came into existence after the Clerk of the House, Mrs. Mandu Umoren, read a letter of proclamation from Governor Udom Emmanuel, in line with provisions of Section 105 (3) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
Yesterday, Wednesday, 10th June 2020, members of the seventh House of Assembly marked their one year in office. As it were, the parliament plays a pivotal role as the fulcrum of democracy in any democratic society. The parliament is the symbol of democracy. Unlike the executive and judicial arms of government, the parliament is usually proscribed in any military administration. The functions of the parliamentarians in a democratic setting cannot be overemphasised as they are the key to success and sustenance of democracy. It is on this background that the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), that played a key role in the returned to democracy in Nigeria in 1999 and whose watchdog functions include, but not limited to the protection and preservation of Nigerian democracy, and holding government and public officeholders accountable to the people, wishes to present an appraisal of the performance of the seventh Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly in the year under review (10th June, 2019 to 10th June, 2020).
CLO’s appraisal is based on the following indicators:
- Law making function:
In the year under review, the House of Assembly passed 10 Bills, 5 out of the 10 Bills were assented into Law by the State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel. The Assembly members deliberated and passed 35 Motions. CLO scores the seventh Assembly fifteen percent (15%) in the Law making function.
- Representative function:
For purposes of political administration, effective representation, fairness and equity, Akwa Ibom State is divided into 26 geo-political zones, otherwise called, ‘State Constituencies.’ Hence, the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly is made up of 26 Members from the 26 State Constituencies.
CLO observed that in the year under review, the Lawmakers did not hold regular constituency briefings with their constituents, in order to keep their constituents abreast with their (Lawmakers’) legislative activities. CLO observed that about 6 of the 26 Lawmakers met with their constituents during the 2019 Christmas season to share the moment with them. These meetings, however, commendable were not the conventional constituency briefings, but Thank you meetings with their constituents. CLO scores the seventh Assembly five percent (5%) in Representative function.
- Deliberation function:
Procedurally, assembly members are supposed to be effectively involved in the day to day debates at the plenary. CLO observed that deliberations in the plenary were not always intellectually interactive as majority of members do not usually contribute to debates to enrich the quality of Bills and Motions passed by the seventh Assembly. CLO urges members of the House of Assembly to always participate in debates and deliberations, while the Speaker, Mr. Aniekan Bassey is urged to always give equal opportunity to all members of the Assembly to contribute their quota to debates during plenary sessions. CLO scores the seventh Assembly five percent (5%) in deliberation function.
- Administrative function (Confirmation of appointments):
Section 192 (2) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) empowers the Assembly to confirm government appointees such as Commissioners, Chief Judge, Board Members, etc.
CLO observed that the Assembly while carrying out this function, did not do a thorough scrutiny of appointees forwarded to it by the State governor before they were cleared and confirmed. CLO scores the seventh Assembly five percent (5%) in Administrative function.
- Oversights Investigative Function:
Section 88 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) requires the Assembly to carry out investigations within its competence in order to prevent and expose corruption, inefficiency or waste in the execution of projects and implementation of the state budgets, as well as in the administration of laws in the State by the executive arm of government, in order to perform this function effectively, the seventh Assembly has 26 (Special and Standing) Committees.
CLO applauds the seventh Assembly in the execution of its Oversight Investigative Functions. In no particular order, CLO commends the following Committees of the House of Assembly: Works and Transport; Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs; Public Account; Industry, Commerce and Tourism; Education; Boundary and Conflict Resolution; Agriculture and Natural Resources; Appropriation and Finance; Petroleum Matters; Economic Planning and Public Utility; Labour and Productivity; Special Project, Monitoring and Implementation; Judiciary, Justice, Human Rights and Public Petitions; Security, Youth and Sports; Health; Information; and Women Affairs, for carrying out their regular oversight functions in the year under review. CLO scores the seventh Assembly twenty three percent (23%) in Oversight Investigative Functions.
- Judicial function:
The Assembly is required to regulate its proceedings through laid down procedures, including issuing of warrant to compel the attendance of any person who, after having been summoned to appear before it, fails to do so. This function was not performed by any of the 26 committees of the House of Assembly. CLO scores the seventh Assembly zero percent (0%) in this function.
- Quasi–Judicial function:
Section 143 and 188 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) empowers the assembly to impeach and remove from office any member of the Executive, the Governor and Deputy Governor inclusive, if found guilty of gross misconduct. The seventh Assembly did not exercise this function in the year under review. CLO scores the seventh Assembly zero percent (0%).
- Law making function: 15%
- Representative function: 5%
- Deliberation function: 5%
- Administrative function (Confirmation of appointments) 5%
- Oversights Investigative Function: 23%
- Judicial function: 0%
- Quasi–Judicial function: 0%.
CLO rates the performance of the seventh Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly fifty three percent (53%) in the year under review, using the indicators stated here above.
Comrade (Barr.) Godknows Njoku
Chairman, Research and Inter-Governmental Committee
Otuekong Franklyn Isong
Chairman, Akwa Ibom State CLO
DATED: Thursday, 11th June, 2020.