7th Abia State House of Assembly: One Hundred Days of Legislative Excellence (June 10, 2019 – September 18, 2019)

When on June 10, 2019, the 7th Abia State House of Assembly was inaugurated, expectations were high and the people were looking forward to something new that would further invigorate their faith and hope in the Abia Project. It was therefore not surprising that the State erupted in jubilation as Honourable Members, in a gladdening display of team spirit, unanimously elected Rt Hon Chinedum Enyinnaya Orji, a Professional Engineer and former Majority Leader, as Speaker.

If after the inauguration, Abians still nursed any uncertainty about the progressive direction of the House, such doubts were cleared after the Speaker made his inaugural speech. He made it clear, on behalf of his colleagues, that the 7th Abia State House of Assembly was going to be a “House of the people, by the people and for the people and we shall endeavour to make the people the centre-point of all our actions and decisions. We are therefore committed to the enactment of sound laws and legislation that will help in uplifting the lives and well-being of NdiAbia”.

Based on this, the Assembly immediately swung into action and began to make an impact on the lives of the people. Although they had only 36 days of the 100 to work, from June 10 – July 16, since they had to observe the conventional annual recess, the Assembly achieved within that short period what many consider gargantuan milestones. It is also noteworthy that while the recess which would end on the 23rd of September was on, the lawmakers kept working especially at the committee level knowing full well the urgency governance requires in the State. This enormous sacrifice by all the lawmakers is both a cogent and copious testimony to the fact that they are committed wholeheartedly to the welfare of NdiAbia.

Following relentless allegations of operational lapses in some government institutions leading to revenue leakages, low output, non-payment of workers’ salaries among other shortcomings, the House set up ad hoc committees to investigate the allegations with a view to acting on them in ways that would help reposition the institutions for efficiency and ensure regular payment of workers’ salaries. Contrary to the negative interpretation given to this noble action in some quarters, it was actually an indication of cooperation and collaboration between the executive and the legislature in the promotion of good governance, excellent service delivery to the people and a fulfillment of the Assembly’s collective Mission as spelt out in Mr Speaker’s inaugural speech wherein he stated that “…the era of the non-implementation of the directives and visions of the Executive headed by our Governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, is now over”.

Other issues of urgent importance which the House also set committees for were the ones to investigate the recurring border clashes between the people of Umunneochi and their neighbours from Ebonyi State at the Lokpanta Quarry site, the border crisis between the people of Isu clan in Arochukwu and their neighbours from Cross River State with both border crises having recorded loss of lives and displacement of many. The House in its resolution called on the federal government through the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the state government and the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) to provide immediate relief materials to the victims.

Shortly after that resolution was passed, NEMA and SEMA visited Isu clan even as the state government also graciously provided relief materials to them.

Furthermore, the Assembly has shown unflinching commitment to tackle the challenges of waste management in the State. This is one area they are determined to continue to deal with once they resume from their current recess. Apart from the reforms it already embarked on, AbiaPoly, as one of the institutions being investigated by the Assembly, will conduct its first convocation ceremony for the first time in 10 years in October. Other parastatals also being investigated by the Assembly have shown commitment to improving while others have actually shown some level of improvement in their operations and service to the people through necessary reformative steps.

Concerned by the issue of recurrent flooding in Aba, the Assembly mandated another committee to look into the challenge with a view to making practical recommendations that would set the commercial city free from the shackles of the menace once and for all.

Despite misgivings in some quarters about these investigations, the results today have shown that, indeed, it is a fruitful and worthy exercise.

Recently, the news of a snake creeping out from the chamber of a House of Assembly in another State caused a big embarrassment to the government and people of the State as images from there showed that the Assembly had been in decrepit conditions for a long time and had become a home to termites leading to their ceilings caving in. In Abia, the Honourable Members under the leadership of Mr Speaker have ensured the Assembly wears an exotic ambience to boost their productivity levels and that of the staff. The newly renovated Abia House of Assembly is one every Abian can be proud of and is already being touted as one of the best in the country. This will surely be followed by even more quality and people-oriented legislation from the House.

Also, for the first time in the entire history of the State, once the Assembly resumes from its recess, its Plenary sessions would be streamed live on social media and other platforms. That is another historic and unprecedented innovation. Abians, and, indeed, the world, can now follow proceedings of the Assembly live in the comfort of their homes and offices.

The cherry on the cake is the passage of the Abia State House of Assembly Service Commission Bill (HAB1 2019) into Law, bringing the State at par with what is obtainable at the national level, and one of only few states that have had the courage to pass the Bill which has the singular capacity to deepen our democracy. To have done this within this short period of time is an enormous demonstration of political will and dedication to duty by Members of the 7th Assembly.

With the inauguration of 25 standing committees covering diverse needs of the State and her people, the 7th Assembly under the leadership of Rt Hon Chinedum Enyinnaya Orji, within their first 100 days in office today, have shown the direction they want to go: to support and cooperate with the Executive Governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, and his team members, in the joint quest to continue to deliver democracy dividends to Abians without compromising their own independence.

From the foregoing, and with the unceasing cooperation of Abians, the people can rest assured that the days ahead will continue to witness quality, responsible and responsive legislative output from this great team of Honourable Members with maximum impact on the people.

God bless Abia State!

Jude Chijioke Ndukwe

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