The eighth Assembly kick-started in earnest in 2017 after the re-run elections of December 2016. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) recorded massive victory as 26 out the 32-member Assembly returned.
As the year wore on, intrigues started with the choosing of a Minority Leader which further divided the ranks of the opposition in the House.
Member representing Eleme Constituency, Hon Josiah Olu had engaged in a long battle with member representing Akuku-Toru 2, Hon. Benibo Anabraba who finally won.
The issue of who selects a Minority leader took a legal dimension when a high court sitting in Port Harcourt upheld the position of Hon Benibo Anabraba as minority leader of the Rivers State House of Assembly.
Justice C.D. Green of High Court 20 in his ruling that lasted over 30minutes ruled that the election of Hon. Anabraba who represents Akuku-Toru Constituency 2 was constitutional and in line with the standing orders of the Rivers State House of Assembly.
Arguments arose whether it was an exclusive pressure of the opposition or a joint House decision. This controversy may have led both the opposition and majority party members to partake as Anabraba carried the day.
But before the election of a Minority Leader, the House Speakership had reverted to its usual zone. Former Speaker who took the mantle during the period of the massive tribunal rulings that removed most of the legislators, only about six members seat from the PDP were spared.
Rt. Hon. Adams Dabotorudima, 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.
However, 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 elections were 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 some oversight functions.
In order not to allow a leadership vacuum, the House evolved an expedient measure as the former Speaker, Ikuinyi-Owaji Ibani was affected. Adams Daboturodima from Okrika took over as Speaker.
He however relinquished the position early last year when Rt. Hon Ibani won his seat and returned to the House after the r-run elections. The smooth handover of the House speakership set the tone for the various landmarks witnessed in the legislative chambers this past year.
Many bills were passed and debated upon during the year under review.
But key five bills were signed into law while order bills are still under various stages of deliberations and passage. Among those signed into law are the Rivers State Education (Return of Schools) Amendment Law number 1, Rivers State Honours law number 2 of 2017,Rivers State Reserve Fund Law Repeal number 3, Rivers State University law number 4 and Rivers State Teaching Hospital law number 5 of 2017, and the Ken Saro Wiwa Polytechnic bill 2017.
Also within the year, the House raised alarm over what it described as “deliberate marginalisation of the state”, following failure of the federal authorities to give relief materials to the state over flooding. Majority Leader of the House, Martins Amaewhule also picked holes in the neglect of federal roads in the state. He cited the example of the East West Road leading to Eleme and the Aba/Port Harcourt Express Road both of which are in a state of disrepair.
As part of its legislative functions to screen commissioner nominees and Special Advisers, the House in June approved fresh list of Commissioners and Special Advisers. But before the screening of the Commissioners, the legislative chambers had equally screened about five sets of Caretaker Committee Chairmen for the local government councils.
Some oversight functions conducted by the House in compliance to its mandate include the Committee on Environment visit over the soot, the House Committee on Works and the House Committee on Finance. However, it was that of the House Committee on Finance that featured prominently.
The committee had threatened to sanction any ministry, parastatal or board that fails to appear before it. The Committee on Finance conducted several accountability fora that covered Ignatius Ajuru University, Rivers State Microfiance Agency, Rivers State Hospital Management Board, Rivers State Pilgrims Board and Post Primary Schools Board.
As the year drew to a close, activities in the House equally took a dive with fewer sittings and proceedings.
Before then, member representing Ikwerre Constituency in the Rivers State House of Assembly, Azubuike Wanjoku, was suspended by the House over alleged denigrating comments made against the hallowed chamber.
The House said Wanjoku’s suspension took immediate effect until he explained the reasons for his actions against the assembly where he currently serves.
Leader of the House, Martins Amaewhule, who raised the complaint, said the decision of the House was based on comments made by Wanjoku and published on a national daily.
Amaewhule said Wanjoku, who is one of the few members representing the All Progressives Congress in the House, violated sections of the rules of the assembly.
In his ruling, Speaker of the House, Ikuinyi-Owaji Ibani said actions and comments of Azubuike Wanjoku were capable of putting the Rivers State House of Assembly in disrepute.
“Honourable Azubuike Chikere Wanjoku is hereby suspended as a member of the Rivers state House of Assembly. You cannot belong to this House and disparage our image.
“He is banned from participating in any activity of the Assembly until he appears before the House Committee on Ethics and Privileges.
“We will not tolerate any act of indiscipline from any member of the Assembly.
Also, there was an august visit by the governor, Chief Nyesom Wike who commissioned in November and unveiled the State Assembly Service Commission Complex initiated and built by his administration to address accommodation challenges.
The governor also announced that the State Government will undertake the total rehabilitation of the State Assembly Complex.
Speaking during the commissioning programme, Governor Wike commended the management of the commission for the proper implementation of the project.
He said: “This is the executive intervening in the rehabilitation of the Rivers State House of Assembly Complex. I will always do what is right for the state.
“I will personally supervise the rehabilitation. The level of degeneration of this complex is not acceptable”.
He said that despite the economic downturn, the state government was executing projects because of prudent management of scarce resources.
He said the immediate past administration in the state despite the funds available to it, failed to execute key projects and sold state assets to her cronies.
The governor assured the workers of the Assembly that his administration would take care of their welfare issues.
Earlier, Chairman of the Rivers State Assembly Service Commission, Mr Chidi Amadi said for the first time after more than 10 years, a major project had been initiated and commissioned at the Assembly.
He said that the complex had resolved the accommodation challenges of workers of the commission.
Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon Ikunyi-Owaji Ibani praised the governor for his development projects.
The special valedictory sitting in honour of its former member representing Opobo/Nkoro Constituency dampened the atmosphere in the Assembly. Fortunately, no current member died but rather some recorded positive milestones, such as Hon. Sam Ogeh of Emohua who was called to the Nigerian Bar, as a lawyer.
NGO Tasks NASS On Fiscal Responsibility Law Amendment
The Growth Initiative for Fiscal Transparency (GIFT) Nigeria says there is an urgent need for the national assembly to pass the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA) amendment bill into law.
The executive director, Order Paper, Oke Epia,said this on Saturday at a media briefing in Abuja.
The Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007 is primarily designed to checkmate wastage and corruption.
Epia said the financial crisis faced by the country is as a result of corruption in the oil sector, which could be resolved through the passage of the amendment of the Act.
“Nigeria is in a fiscal crisis because certain things are not being done right, especially in the petroleum sector which accounts for over 60 percent of revenue earnings and over 90 percent of foreign exchange due to the country,” he said.
“It is the mainstay of the economy and that is where you have the poster child of corruption in this country.”
He said the slow amendment of the fiscal responsibility act gives room for the non-remittance of revenue by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) and other ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).
“On the side of public finance management, that is what we want to alert your consciousness to, so that we can mount pressure on the national assembly to pass this fiscal responsibility amendment bill, so it will help get monies that are due to government paid to the government without much ado,” he added.
Alleged 2019 Guber Poll Rigging: Ogun APC To Probe Amosun
The state leadership of All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ogun State may likely quiz the immediate past Governor of the state, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, over his claim that the 2019 governorship election in the state was rigged in favour of the incumbent Governor, Dapo Abiodun.
There were indications that the party’s leadership may take a hard step on the Senator’s claim when the party’s leaders from the 20 local government areas of the state had a closed-door meeting in Abeokuta on Saturday and expressed their displeasure over the allegation.
The state Chairman of the party, Yemi Sanusi, who berated Amosun over his claim, described such outburst as un-senatorial and unbecoming of a supposed statesman.
It was learnt that after the meeting, the party’s leaders called for disciplinary measures against such anti-party acts, which they likened to the ex-governor’s support for All Progressives Movement’s governorship candidate in 2019, resulting in his suspension.
Sanusi declared that, being the acting chairman of the party in 2019, he observed that the election that produced the incumbent governor was the most credible in the history of the state.
He said the electorate trooped out and overwhelmingly voted for Governor Abiodun and protected their votes from being overturned by riggers.
Sanusi, therefore, called on the party’s leaders and members to reciprocate the kind gesture of Governor Abiodun by working hard to ensure his re-election in 2023.
Meanwhile, in preparation for the general election, Governor Abiodun donated a bus to the party’s state executive council with a view to enhancing their operations ahead of the 2023 poll and in appreciation of their contributions towards the growth of democracy in the state.
He described the party’s state executive as a partner in progress, commending them for their sterling leadership which made it possible for them to keep the party united.
The governor, therefore, promised support for the party to sustain its membership drive, emphasising that all hands mist be on deck as the party gets prepared for the forthcoming general elections.
APC’s Case Challenging My Victory, Waste Of Time – Adeleke
The Governor- elect of Osun State, Senator Ademola Adeleke, on Saturday disclosed that the case filed by the All Progressives Congress APC, challenging his victory in the July 16 election is dead on arrival and a mere waste of time.
According to Adeleke, the people of Osun state have spoken and no amount of court cases can overturn his election as governor.
Adeleke, speaking at Ijebu-Jesa, headquarters of Oriade local government, where a former commissioner for finance under the administration of Aregbesola, Dr Wale Bolorunduro officially decamped to the PDP, said his major focus is how to move Osun forward, promising a massive impact in his first 100 days in office.
“The whole world knew that the election was free and fair. APC are just wasting there time. They have the right to go to court but I can tell you, it is dead on arrival.
“Osun people who have voted massively for us should keep calm and not worry. This time around, the people of Osun have spoken and it is the will of God.
“The only thing I’m concerned with now is how to make Osun great and I’m promising that in my first 100 days in office , Osun State will witness a massive change,” he said.
Speaking on why he defected, Bolorunduro said he left APC because the party is full of deceit and lack ethos of Obafemi Awolowo.
His words: “I and my followers are decamping today to PDP because it is the party for the progressive. It is a party that is transparent and not deceitful as the former party I was.
“I left APC because my glory was being covered and my contributions trampled upon. APC is full of deceit. There is nothing called progressivesm in that party.
“The party lack fairness, justice, transparency and the ethos of our avatar, Obafemi Awolowo. I had no choice than to leave APC and come to the party of light”.
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