Honestly, I don’t agree with the assertion that the sixth assembly is deaf and dumb. As a matter of fact, with the intense and thought provoking arguments observed at each plenary, I believe this crop of state lawmakers are enthusiastically dedicated to delivering on their mandate as the people’s representatives. Nevertheless, I believe they can deliver more by being focused and performing oversight.
After one year, it is clear that legislative business is more than unnecessary publicity stunts and making unguarded political statements. It is also clear that governance is beyond partisanship and quirky attempts to score cheap political points.
I could not help a smirk while listening to the Speaker of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. (Barr.) Onofiok Luke, struggle to convince Akwa Ibom people that the sixth assembly did not intend to have such an abysmal scorecard after 365 days.
While thoroughly enjoying his anxious endeavor, giving one excuse after another, I could clearly recall the very words Mr. Speaker reportedly used, few weeks before, to describe President Mohammed Buhari’s administration – bad government, taking a worrisome dimension.
Interestingly, Mr. Speaker has himself conceded that, “…the 6th assembly has in the last one year received 11 executive and private member bills. Two of these have been passed into law while others are at various legislative stages”, a poor result by all standards.
So even, the very active Speaker and his distinguished colleagues have performed woefully too!
After this humbling realization, the leadership of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly should learn to leave national issues to the National Assembly and concentrate on providing the legal framework for good governance in its primary constituency, Akwa Ibom state.
There are enough issues of development within the state to occupy our legislature if it was to look inwards, including unpaid pension and salary arrears of some civil servants, last botched recruitment exercise by SUBEB, questionable status of some major public projects – including Ibom Tropicana, MRO, Ibaka deep sea port, Akwa Savings and Loans loan saga and others.
The sixth assembly needs to prove it is a listening and talking legislature by focusing on speedy passage of pro-people bills, such as the bill for a law to provide for control of rent for premises, recovery of possession of premises, and for other matters connected therewith.
It goes without mention that the sixth assembly must work hard to perform oversight and ensure government meet its development targets. In the same vein, the legislature should insist that the governor releases funds budgeted for projects to relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies to function.
As another legislative year commences, one therefore expects to see the legislature truly settled in to actualize its robust plan to strengthen our internally generated revenue, make laws to support the state executive’s efforts in developing the non-oil sector, salvage the free and compulsory education policy, and revamp our derelict primary healthcare delivery system just as the Speaker has pledged. Again, the legislature must endeavour to keep the executive constantly in check.
By Ukpong UKPONG