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Rivers 8th Assembly: Two Years After

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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

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Govs To Hold Virtual Meeting On Judicial, Legislative Autonomy

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The Governors of the 36 states of the federation will hold a virtual meeting today to further discuss the issue of financial autonomy to judicial and legislative arms in states.
This is contained in a statement by NGF Head of Media and Public Affairs, Mr Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo on Monday in Abuja.
Bello-Barkindo said efforts were already being made in all states to either constitute State Accounts Allocation Committees (SAAC) or inaugurate them.
This, according to him, is preparatory to the granting of full autonomy to the two arms of government at the subnational level.
The Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) and the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN) had since embarked on a nationwide strike on the issue.
He said the governors had been working day and night to establish modalities for the autonomy in conformity with the provisions of the Constitution.
He said that the governors would also be updated on the activities of the Presidential Steering Committee on Covid-19 by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta, who headed the governors’ interface with the committee.
Bello-Barkindo said that the meeting would also review the agenda of the National Executive Council (NEC), which would take place a day after.
“Other items on the agenda include the regular update on the States’ Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability for results (SFTAS) to provide states’ status on their DLI’s and upcoming deadlines.
The meeting would also receive presentation from the Director General, Bureau of Public Enterprises, regarding unlocking liquidity through sale/optimisation of state-owned redundant/sub-optimal assets,” he said.
He added that the Policy Development Facility (PDF) bridge programme would also discuss diversification and non-oil export opportunities for states in post Covid-19 era.

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2023: PDP Flexes Muscle Over C’ River

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Leading members of the main opposition PDP converged in Calabar, Cross River at the weekend to strategise on how to retain its grip on power in the state.
This is contained in a statement e-mailed to newsmen in Abuja, yesterday.
The Tide source reports that the PDP has been in power in Cross River since the return of democracy in the country 22 years ago but the defection of the current governor appears to mark a turning point.
Political pundits argue that the defection of the state Governor Ben Ayade from the PDP to the ruling APC may affect the fortunes of the PDP in the years ahead.
The governor’s departure is now seen as a major test for the PDP in what is now seen as a game of wits between the PDP and the APC.
Addressing the party’s chieftains, the National Chairman of the party, Mr Uche Secondus, declared that Cross River would “remain the stronghold of the PDP, in spite of Gov. Ayade’s defection.
“PDP will work to retain the confidence the people of Cross River State reposed in our party and retain its dominance in the state.
“Our party has governed since the return of party politics in 1999.
“Cross River will remain the stronghold of our party well after 2023,’’ said Secondus, flanked by other chieftains of the party, including Sen. Bukola Saraki and Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State.
Secondus told PDP members in the state to remain resolute to make the party retain power in the upcoming general elections.
Also speaking, a former governor of the state, Sen. Liyel Imoke, gave assurance that no other party would take the state from the PDP, “being the dominant party in the state.
“PDP is the only party known to our people. I assure the leadership of our party that we will deliver victory in 2023,’’ he stated.
Imoke governed the state from 2007 to 2015 when he handed over to Ayade now of the APC.
Other PDP chieftains, who were present at the event included former Governor Peter Obi of Anambra, former Gov. Donald Duke of Cross River and the Chairman of the party’s Caretaker Committee, Mr Efiok Cobham.
Also present were Hon. Daniel Asuquo, Hon. Etta Mbora and Hon. Essien Ayi, all serving members of the House of Representatives among other party’s chieftains.

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…Vows To Take Over Anambra

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The Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Anambra, Chief Ndubuisi Nwobu, says the party remains focused to take over the state in the upcoming governorship poll.
Nwobu said this in an interview with newsmen in Awka yesterday, adding that he would not be distracted by those trying to destabilise the party in the state.
He lauded the National Executive Committee of the party for organising successful ward congresses in the state.
He described the success of the exercise as a sure step to the party’s free, fair and credible primary election.
“We want to conduct our primary election, where party people will freely vote and produce a candidate that will be acceptable to Anambra people at the November 6 poll.
“This is not time for distractions. We are focused on taking over government from the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
“The party has shortchanged millions of Anambra people in terms of governance.
Nwobu said he remained the valid chairman of PDP in Anambra, having emerged from a valid process that was upheld by a Federal High Court in its May 24, 2018 judgment.
He said the judgment had not been reversed by any higher court and was “unfazed by any court judgment”, which purportedly removed him.
“My leadership is still subsisting, no superior court has set that judgment aside and a court of coordinate jurisdiction cannot do that.
“Our team of legal experts is taking care of that. The decision to appeal will be advised,” the PDP chairman said.
The Tide source reports that Chief Chukwudi Umeaba at the weekend announced that he had taken over the party in the state as the Acting Chairman of the Caretaker Committee.
Umeaba, who announced the suspension of the ward congresses, said his action was predicated on the judgment of an Abuja Federal High Court.
According to him, the judgment delivered on June 9, nullified the process that produced Nwobu’s leadership.

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