Rivers 8th Assembly: Two Years After

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Rt. Hon. Ikuinyi-Owaji Ibani, Speaker, RVHA.

Precisely June 1, 2015, the
8th Rivers State House of Assembly (The current Assembly) was inaugurated after April 17th and 18th, 2015 legislative elections in the state.
Representatives of the Assembly were elected from 32 constituencies of the State with members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the majority.
Shortly after the inauguration of the Assembly, the House elected it’s officers with the lawmaker representing Andoni Constituency, Ikunyi-Owaji Ibani emerging as the Speaker of the 8th Assembly.
The emergence of Rt. Hon. Ikuinyi-Owaji Ibani placed him on record as the 9th Speaker of the State House of Assembly since the inauguration of the Assembly in 1979.
Other house officers elected include Hon. Marshal S. Uwom (Abua/Odual constituency), Deputy Speaker; Hon. Martin Amawehule (Obio/Akpor Constituency 1), Leader of the House; Hon. Loolo Dinebari (Khana constituency 1), deputy leader; Hon. Evans Bipi (Ogu/Bolo), Chief whip; and Major Jack representing Akuku-Toru constituency 1, Deputy Whip of the Assembly.
The House, in the election of  its officers in 2015, skipped the position of minority leader as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had swept all the state constituencies, except Eleme Constituency that was won by Hon. Josiah Olu, a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Subsequently, the 8th Unicamera Assembly also constituted 31 committees to carryout oversight functions of the House.
However, the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Ikuinyi-Owaji Ibani, without prejudice piloted the affairs of the Assembly.
Notable among the bills passed into law under his leadership in 2015, was the 2015 supplementary budget of N104 billion, the budget he passed on the very day he stepped aside as speaker of the House.
Apart from the bills passed into law, there was over six bills pending in the Assembly when he stepped aside for undisclosed reasons.
The bills spilled over to the same 8th Assembly under the leadership of Rt. Hon. Adams Dabotorudima, who replaced Ibani on December 19, 2015.
Two days after Ibani stepped aside, the Appeal Court in Abuja sacked 13 members of the Assembly, majority of whom were of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers State.
The 8th Assembly later had 19 members to be presided over by the then new leadership of the House, Rt. Hon. Dabotorudima.
Though, two out of the 19 were sworn-in following a court order and alleged absentism.
The two lawmakers included Hon. Victoria Nyeche, representing Port Harcourt Constituency 1, and Hon. Andrew Miller, representing Opobo/Nkoro constituency whose election was later voided by the court. He was later replaced by Hon. Adonye Diri of the PDP.
Nonetheless Rt. Hon. Dabotorudima piloted the affairs of the House from December 19, 2015 to December 30, 2016, when he resigned as Speaker of the House.
Within the period of Rt. Hon. Dabotorudima leadership as Speaker, the Assembly passed several motions and over four bills into laws, resolved petitions, and also carried out over sight functions.
Notable among the laws were the Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, (Amendment No. 2 law, No. 6 law, 2016 (Executive bill), the Rivers State local government (Amendment No. 1) law No. 5 of 2016; and the “Rivers State Violence
Against Persons (prohibiting bill, 2016.
The bill was sponsored by the leader and lawmaker representing Obio/Akpor Constituency I, Hon Martin Amaewhule, and lawmaker representing Emohua Constituency Hon Samuel Ogeh in the House.
The House under the speakership of Rt Hon Dabotorudima  also passed in December, 2016, the 2017 appropriation bill of N470 billion. The bill was tagged “Golden Jubilee Budget of 2017”.
The 8th Assembly handled petitions and carried out  oversight functions to agencies, companies, and some state’s ministries.
The House, under the leadership of Rt Hon Dabatorudima, organised a 3-Day workshop for members in Uyo, Akwa-Ibom State in October, 2016.
The 8th Assembly again changed its leadership on December 30, 2016, when Rt Hon Adams Dabotorudima resigned, and Rt Hon. Ikuinji-Owaji Ibani was re-elected as the Speaker of the House.
The Assembly, on same December 30, 2016, sworn-in additional 12 elected members, whose Certificates  of Return were issued by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the winners of the last re-run legislative elections held on December 10, 2016 in the state.
Unlike the 2015 election, the APC was able to clinch six constituencies in the December 10, election, which brought the number of opposition to seven.
While the election of the speakership was smooth  the election minority leader sparked off controversy from among APC members.
Nevertheless, the lawmaker representing Asari-Toru Constituency, Hon Ferdinand Anabrabra of the APC was elected to the position.
Between December 30, 2016 and June 1, 2017, when the 8th Assembly clocked two years, the House under the second leadership of Rt Hon Ikuinji-Owaji Ibani passed 10 motions and some five bills into law. They include the Rivers State Education (Return of Schools) Amendment law No. 1 of 2017, the Rivers State Reserve Fund (Repeal) law No.3 of 2017, the Rivers State University law no 4 of 2017, the Rivers State Honours Law No 2 of 2017; and the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital Law no. 5 of 2017.
The Assembly in June, 2016 also held colloquium in commemoration of the Rivers State at 50. At the event, the majority leader of the House, Hon. Martin Amaewhule, said  the 8th Assembly has so far  passed a total of 17 laws and taken resolutions on 66 motions.
Also in June, the Assembly, through its committee on environment, held the Port Harcourt Environmental Summit in conjunction with the State Ministry of Environment and the Rivers State Waste Management Agency (RWAMA) to create awareness on the need for a sustainable environment.
Speaking with The Tide, the speaker of the 8th Assembly, Rt Hon Ikuinji-Owaji Ibani said the House embarked on the summit to have a first-hand-knowledge that could provide a frame work for a bill to preserve and sustain the state’s environment.
Apart from the summit, the Speaker said the Assembly passed legislative oriented laws and motions that have direct bearing on the Rivers’ people.
On the whole, the 8th Assembly passed a total of 17 laws, 66 motions and entertained over 35 petitions in its two years. 80 per cent of the laws are executive bills, while 20 per cent are individual’s.
The entire 17 laws have since been assented to by Governor Wike.
The Speaker has assured that the Assembly would continue to do more within its powers to enable the state Governor execute more developmental  projects and programmes in the state