By Abigail Isaac
On Tuesday, June 6, 2017, the Sixth Assembly of the Akwa Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly officially ended the second session of the legislature.
It was another milestone for the present legislature which has come to sustain the standards as it afforded another opportunity to intimate the citizenry its recorded feats so far, share ideas and look ahead as the last half of the tenure enters a higher gear.
The Sixth Assembly which has been tagged the ‘peoples Assembly’ has carved a niche of excellence in its duties and functions which has been widely lauded as dynamic and strong factor in the industralization drive which the State currently thrives.
The Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly led by the Speaker, Rt. Hon. (Barr.) Onofiok Luke and 25 other members have shown excellent team work approach, greater understanding and patriotic zeal to chart a definitive course in the development of Akwa Ibom State.
At the end of the second legislative session, the House has received a total numbers of 39 sponsored bills. Out of which 6 executive bills and 10 private member bills have been passed totaling 16 out of 39 bills sponsored.
Significantly is the prominence of private member bills which cover areas like education, health, governance, youth development / empowerment, economic and revenue generation, environment, judiciary, security and social development among other areas.
Ranking top is the recent bill for a law to establish Akwa Ibom State Health Insurance Agency Scheme, passed on Tuesday, June 6, 2017 to cap up the second legislative year of the House.
Additionally, 100 resolutions have been made out of 48 motions while matters of urgent public importance and petitions including over 30 public hearings have been held.
The present set of lawmakers at the State legislature have continued to exhibit a high level of intellectual consistency with the quality of private member bills which has further ensures the quality of content of legislation that would uplift the standard of living of the people.
The commitment of the legislature has also deepened the existing relationship of trust, respect and understanding between the executive and even the Judiciary.
The Sixth Assembly has immensely contributed to the stability of the polity in the State. The Assembly through its various legislation have broaden justice with a stronger working relationship with the judiciary and have fostered cohesion even at the various committee levels to ensure effective leadership.
The Legislature, perhaps maybe the unsung hero of industralization policy of the present administration, because the Assembly has worked selflessly to ensure that proposals from the executive through appropriations have been duly passed to facilitate the development and growth of the State.
Despite the strong working relationship between the media in the State and the legislature, there have been few criticisms during some seasons of sensational reports, however, such moments of criticisms have been catalysts to ensure the depths of unity and focus of the House remain on course in the discharge of their duties.
However, the house through the speaker has frequently called for constructive criticisms from the press community with provision of remedial suggestions to further strengthen the bond and growth of the State.
This laudable approach of constructive reportage by the Peoples Assembly has futher strengthened and encouraged objective reportage of the legislature by members of the press corps and correspondents of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, when the Chairman, House Committee on Information, Rt. Hon. (Barr.) Ime Okon said; “We in the Sixth Assembly do not crave cheap publicity, but a responsible media coverage that highlights our positive contributions to the well being of our constituents. Would encourage, criticise constructively and praise graciously when necessary”
The media parley have been consistently, offering indepth analysis and preferring answers to the activities of the House. Access to information has rarely been denied and the leadership of the House and members have always offered elucidations on various issues of State and National importance even at the shortest notice.
The media management team of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly must be applauded for sustaining this bond of understanding with the media in the State and House Committee on Information and the Press Secretary have been distinguished in the discharge of their duties.
The recent approval for a 3-day retreat and capacity building workshop for members of the press corps and correspondents of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly remains another landmark chapter of the Peoples Assembly which has further sustained democracy in the State.
The passage of Appropriation Bills have been timely in line with the beginning of the fiscal year which has made effective budgetary planning of the Executive a realistic approach to development with effective oversight functions which have monitored the progress of the laudable projects being executed in line with the vision of the administration of Mr. Udom Gabriel Emmanuel.
The Sixth Assembly of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly has continued to live up to expectations as focused members with full loyalty and team work as there has not been any impeachment threats despite few media speculations which has shown that the leadership of the House has shown exemplary leadership qualities in steering the House to its present enviable position.
This is applauding when the immediate past Commissioner for Information and Communications and President, African Media Network, Mr. Aniekan Umanah inferred; “the Sixth Assembly of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly is the most feasible Assembly since the inception of democracy in 1999.”
The interests of Akwa Ibom perspective cannot be compromised as members have continued to speak with one voice in the clarion call to serve the people.
Effective representation of different members have been brought closer to their constituencies with more constituency offices being opened, empowerment programmes for constituents and other financial assistance to the people which has brought the people closer to their representatives.
The screening of nominees of the executive has continued to receive kudos as the legislature has ensured transparency in the press and the excellent discharge of the executive in the implementation of government policies and execution of projects is a further attestation of the credibility of the legislature to be active partners in the industralization drive of the State.
The strong working relationship with the Executive remained a milestone of how the different arms of Government can work together and promote good governance.
Certainly, the peaceful working relationship between the Executive and Legislature remains a model of reference in Nigeria politics which must be widely commended.
However, despite the successes of the Sixth Assembly, there is need to ensure that challenges faced in the second session will be dully addressed as the third session begins, such as the report of Ad-hoc committee on Anchor Borrowers Scheme and the recent controversial alleged fruad of Itu Transition Committee Chairman as members of the public are impatiently watching and waiting for those reports.
There is also need for more effective oversight functions which should be regular to monitor the progress of the people oriented projects in order to ensure that they meet the set deadline of completion and in line with the provisions of the budget.
However, as the Legislature charts a new course in the sustenance of democracy, the legislature must be further commended for the quality of debates on the floor of the House as it has been vibrant and intellectually fulfilling and there is the need to sustain the present peaceful atmosphere to consolidate on the democratic gains.
The legislature in essence, remains a firm pillar in Nigeira’s democracy and our representatives at the Sixth Assembly of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly have shown leadership qualities to serve the people.
The representatives have shown they have effectively discharged their duties in the interest of developing their constituencies and the State and as we enter the third legislative session, a greater efficiency is expected to sustain these gains.
In the rarities of doubt in this regards, the third session of the Sixth Assembly of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly under the able leadership of Speaker Luke, is in top gear and doubling it’s efforts in partnership with other arms of Government in delivering democratic gains to the doorsteps of the masses.
With high expectations in the third legislative year, Speaker Luke reiterated; “The last two years has been a wonderful experience with the press community. As a House, we have never had it so good with the media.”
” We have strived to develop the capacity of our house correspondence and I pray that we will continue on this path of constructive criticisms and assessment of our actions in the next two years.”
“As we begin the next legislative year when we resume, I promise the Akwa Ibom people on behalf of honourable members of this House that we shall continue to pursue participatory governance in our legislative activities and put the interest of the people ahead of our personal interest. We shall work to ensure that government meets its mandate and remains answerable to the people.”
At this juncture, as the “Peoples Assembly” has re-emphasized it’s avowed commitment to remain steadfast and harness all elements for political stability, econonomic and social growth of the State, it therefore behooves on the MDAs, NGOs, other relevant bodies and the entire public to take advantage of this laudable guesture and actively connect with the legislature through public hearing and make their imputs, aspirations and contributions during the process of lawmaking as availed by the present House, for a more rewarding, rigorous and participative session.