7th ASSEMBLY: A DEPARTURE FROM THE STATUS QUO!
By Franklyn ISONG
In the past two months of its existence, I have keenly observed the activities of the 7th Akwa Ibom House of Assembly. As a journalist, it is my self-imposed duty to offer regular checks and oversight on the parliament and our lawmakers. I am of the school of thought that if our parliamentarians are not oversighted, offered the necessary checks, they might not be getting the appropriate feedback from the people and may not also know how the people they lead respond to their legislative activities.
I know, most Nigerians believe that election can serve as a means to assess our political officeholders, but I think otherwise, not with the kind of electoral system in Nigeria.
Though coming too early in the life of the 7th Assembly, I would not be wrong, if I say that I am satisfied with the activities of the Assembly under the leadership of Mr Aniekan Bassey.
I have seven indicators of assessment of the parliament (legislature), namely; Law Making function, Representative Function, Deliberative Function, Administrative Function (Confirmation of Appointments), Oversight Investigative Function, Judicial Function, and Quasi-Judicial Function.
So far, in my opinion, the 7th Assembly has discharged and is discharging these functions, particularly, the function of oversight. I stand corrected! The various standing House committees are carrying out their oversight duties without any hindrance. This is an indication that the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Aniekan Bassey understands the need to allow these committees to perform their oversight on the executive. This is a big thumbs-up for him and his colleagues.
Any Assembly whose members (committees) fail to carry out oversight functions on the executive is as good as a “rubber stamp” or “iron seal” (apologies to the past Speakers of the Assembly). I am happy that the 7th Assembly has disappointed me and other assembly watchers by not towing the path of a “Yes Sir” Assembly. So far, they have made me proud to be associated with them.
This piece is not a scorecard, because it would have been too early for that, but some words of encouragement that if the lawmakers continue with this tempo, Akwa Ibom state and her people will be better off and democratic dividends would be served the masses.
This is truly the much expected “Peoples Assembly.” It is a clear departure from the past assembly, where its members specialised on OVERLOOKING the executive instead of OVERSIGHTING activities of the executive. This assembly has departed from the status quo. It is doing things the way they ought to be done as a parliament.
Nigeria is practicing a representative democracy. I can say, I am well represented by the 26-member House of Assembly. I can attest to them having a good start. We are impressed at their activities since coming on board. Hopes are high in the state. Akwa Ibom people expect more pragmatic and proactive legislative acumen from our lawmakers in the days ahead.
Moving forward, suffice it to say, and it should be noted that, should the 7th Assembly shy away and overlook any of its legislative functions, trust me, I will be here to draw their attention to such dereliction. But for now, they deserve my ovation and they have it!
Franklyn Isong is a public affairs commentator and conscience of the society