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Plenary proceedings of the Abia State House of Assembly for Monday, 28th October, 2019

It is Monday, October 28th, 2019.

Welcome to a new Legislative Day at the Abia State House of Assembly.

The Sergeant-At-Arms ushered the Speaker, Rt Hon Chinedum Enyinnaya Orji, the Deputy Speaker, Rt Hon Ifeanyi Uchendu and other Principal Officers to the hallowed chambers of the Abia State House of Assembly.

The Member representing Umuahia South State Constituency, Hon. Jerry Uzosike, prayed before the commencement of the House sitting at exactly 12:32pm.

Observations and Adoption of VOTES and PROCEEDINGS of Tuesday, 15th October, 2019.

The Speaker asked the House members to check Votes and Proceedings of Tuesday, 15th of October, 2019.

“Distinguished Colleagues, you are welcome to today’s Plenary session of Monday, the 28th Day of October, 2019. Before we proceed, as usual, may we go through the Votes and Proceedings of Tuesday, 15th of October,2019.

In the absence of any correction, the Majority Leader of the House, Hon. Solomon Akpulonu, moved a motion that the House adopts the Proceedings of Tuesday the 15th day of October, 2019, as correct and as a working document of the House; the Minority Leader, Hon. Sir Abraham Oba, seconded the motion with the Lawmakers responding in the affirmative when the motion was put into vote by the Speaker, Rt Hon Chinedum Enyinnaya Orji.

The Votes and Proceedings of Tuesday, 15th October was subsequently adopted.

The Speaker announced a letter from the Auditor General of Abia State for Local Government urging the Local Governments to submit their audited reports.

The Speaker committed it to the House Committee on Local Government Areas.

The Speaker announced the presence of pupils from Deeper Life High School, Aba, and Unique State International Secondary School, Okigwe, who came to observe the Plenary proceedings of the State House of Assembly.

MATTERS OF URGENT PUBLIC IMPORTANCE, PERSONAL EXPLANATION

PETITION.

Hon Jerry Uzosike presented a petition by Coalition of Abia Indigenes and Residents over the inability of Setraco Construction Company to execute quality work as follows:

Hon Barry Jerry Uzosike the Member Of the Abia State House of Assembly Committee on Public Petitions brought a Petition by the Coalition of Aba Indigenes and Residents (CAIR) signed by its President Dr John Okeahialam Titled ” SABOTAGE AND FRAUD: POOR QUALITY OF WORKS AND ABANDONMENT OF CONSTRUCTION SITES IN ABA BY SETRACO,CHINA ZHONGHO NIGERIA LIMITED, TRACK CARE and Other Construction Companies Doing Work In and Around Aba in Abia State.

The Petition Reads in Parts”

Aba Metropolis which includes Part of Osisioma,Obingwa and Ugwunagbo has over time experienced serious infrastructural decay and dilapidation.it is very worrisome when we imagine and think about the huge amount of Internally generated Revenue that the state realizes in Aba. It became more worrisome that now that it appears that the present Government set out to salvage Aba City by approving funding and mobilising contracts of Construction and rehabilitation of the Public Infrastructure, particularly Roads,that the Contractors and/or Construction Companies will SABOTAGE such Government efforts and become the nightmare to be suffered by the Aba People.

Top on the List of these Contractors/Construction Companies is SETRACO that wants to show by their gesture that there is no one in charge of Abia State Administration and that not even the oversight functions of the Abia State House of Assembly can call them to Order.

SETRACO was awarded the contract of reconstruction of 4.8km Faulks Road,rehabilitation and expansion of Ifeobara Pond at a Mind Blowing whooping sum of N6.9B out of which N4.5b has been advanced to SETRACO.

When as an Interested group tried to meet with SETRACO Company so we could know what the problem was,they were recalcitrant and evasive and asked us on whose fiat we have come to querry them. The worst still was when confronted the Company that we would report them to the Abia State House of Assembly and the Company’s Position was that Abia State House of Assembly never gave them any Job and so they do not owe explanation to them.

Would SETRACO receive and hold such amount of N4.5b in other states like Rivers,Lagos ,Anambra and walk away without doing the Job?

Other Companies that have diligently and dutifully failed in their contracts as awarded with our tax moneys and who are sabotaging the efforts of the state Government and also defrauding the State are:

CHINA ZHONGHO NIGERIA LIMITED which was awarded the contract of building/constructing the flyover at Osisioma Junction. That Flyover has infact brought ridicule and mockery to Aba and even the Abia State Government. We the Coalition of Aba Indigenes and Residents are reliable informed that up to 80% of the contract sum of building the flyover bridge has been paid to the Chinese Company.

Another Construction Contractor is Track Care that is awared6and has been highly mobilized /funded for the expansion and Rehabilitation of 13Km Ururuka Road from Obikabia Junction to Umuobikwa.A Visit to the site will show that the Contractors are sabotaging the efforts of the state Government. It appears that they are only interested on getting Funds.

We believe that there is Conspiracy somewhere, and of there is none,we therefore hereby Petition the Abia State House of Assembly and pray as Follows:

(1) To Investigate the contracts and review especially SETRACO and 4.8km Faulks Road awarded them at a mind Blowing sum of 6.9b,with a view to directing the review of the Contract sum.

(2) To Direct a refund part of the sum N4.5b already paid or advanced as N4.5b is more than enough to do the entire Roads in Aba City as the average standard cost of Building Roads per Wordbank Benchmark is N238m per kilom6.

(3) That the Abia State House of Assembly invitation and Investigation should not be limited to SETRACO, CHINA ZHONGHO and TRACK CARE

(4) Ask and order all the Contractors both the ones listed herein and others who are not listed herein, to move back to the site and finish the work so Contracted.

Hon Jerry Uzosike proceeded to lay the petition after presentation.

The Speaker committed the petition to the House Committee on Public Petition for further legislative action.

The Member representing Umuahia South State Constituency, Hon. Jerry Uzosike, brought a personal explanation on the appreciation of the twelve new members of the House of Assembly on the smooth relationship that have existed in the current 7th Abia State House of Assembly between the returning and new Members.

“Mr Speaker, I wish to appreciate you on behalf of the old and new Members and pray that we will be continuously carried along”, he said.

The Speaker, Rt. Hon. Chinedum Enyinnaya Orji in his comments appreciated Hon. Jerry Uzosike for his remarks.

NOTICE OF PRESENTATION OF BILL.

(1) The Clerk announced a Motion : The Abia State Donor Agency Fund 2019.

The Leader moved that the House allow HAB5, the Abia State Donor Agency Fund, undergo First Reading. The motion was seconded by the Minority Leader, Hon. Abraham Oba, while the House responded in the affirmative when the Speaker put the Motion up for Vote.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

The Clerk of the Abia State House of Assembly, Sir John Pedro Irokansi, read the Orders of the Day as follows:

(1) Presentation of the report on Revenue Leakages and Non Payment of Salaries by the management of Abia State University and Abia State Technical.

The Leader moved that other items on the Order Paper be referred to another Legislative Day for the House to consider Item Number 9 and for the House to dissolve into the Committee of the Whole for consideration of item Number 9,10 and 11. The Minority Leader seconded the Motion while the House responded in the affirmative when the Speaker put the Motion up for Vote.

The House subsequently dissolved to the Committee of the Whole.

The Speaker announced that the House would start by considerating.

(1) That Downsizing of the staff and management is not only needful but also inevitable, however, disengaged staff should be paid their salaries.

(2) That AbiaPoly ICT Contractor, Lloydant, is not sincere with its services.

(3) That Lloydant should be made to pay Tax from 2017 till date.

(4 ) That EFCC should be invited to investigate all the withdrawals by Lloydant.

(5) That Lloydant’s contract should be terminated on account of the above.

(6) That the Rector should be given three months to renovate the Lodge.

(7) That Management should be advised accordingly

(8) That Management should take the issue of the harassment of students seriously.

(9) That there should be active Examination Board

The Leader urged the House to allow the Committee to explain recommendation Number 9.

In his response, the Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee, Hon. Barr Jerry Uzosike, said the Committee from her findings discovered the best way to ensure that what students receive in an examination is what is due to them.

“The recommendation is for there to be a reviewing Board after an Examination” he said.

The Leader, Hon. Solomon Akpulonu, said the recommendation Number 9 is not obtainable in higher institutions.

“If you set up an Examination Board to examine another lecturer, it means that there is an issue, Sir!

“It means that those lecturers are not being real. I will advise that we leave this particular recommendation”, he said.

The Speaker asked if there was no Examination Board in Abia State Polytechnic, the Chairman called on Hon. Emeka Okoroafor, who has been a lecturer, to make more input into the matter.

The Lawmaker representing Isuikwuato, Hon. Emeka Okoroafor, in his submission advised that the House jettison recommendation Number 9.

The Speaker put it up for Vote for the recommendation to be stepped down.

It was subsequently stepped down.

(10) That WiFi fees be completely removed from students’ fees as every student now has INTERNET on their phones and that the Acceptance Fee be reduced to N15000.

The Leader in his submission said that the House should step down the issue of Acceptance Fee but completely remove the issue of WiFi Fee.

The Lawmaker representing Umunneochi State Constituency, Hon. Okey Igwe, advised that the House should not eliminate the issue of WiFi.

“We should leave that Issue to the internal administration of the School pending when a new person is appointed to replace Lloydant” he said.

The Lawmaker representing Ugwunagbo State Constituency, Hon. Munachim Alozie, said the polytechnic be encouraged to provide the WiFi.

“The only thing here is that they were abusing it, money would be paid but they wouldn’t account for it”.

The Lawmaker representing Isialangwa North State Constituency, Hon.Ginger Onwusibe, said all over the world, students are not usually charged for WiFi.

“The Polytechnic is supposed to provide social services; even on Acceptance Fee, you don’t need to play much to accept an admission.

The Deputy Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Uchendu, in his contribution said that House should allow Abia State Polytechnic to fix their Acceptance Fee.

The Minority Leader, Hon. Abraham Oba, asked to know how much AbiaPoly was paying before the move to reduce it.

The Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee, Hon. Jerry Uzosike, in his answer said the committee considered the issue of enrollment in the institution and other issues before recommending Number 10.

“We considered what students in private universities pay; some of them pay N10,000 to accept admission, so we say let’s reduce it from N25,000 to N15,000”, he said.

On the WiFi Fee he said students pay but they don’t receive the WiFi service which prompted the committee to move for its removal.

“In higher institutions all over the world, WiFi is provided free, you don’t pay for it”, he said.

The Member representing Isuikwuato State Constituency, Hon. Emeka Okoroafor, said although the details of the WiFi payment was provided but he urged the House not to compare the State owned Polytechnic with some substandard Private Polytechnics.

“I think N25,00 still remains OK. On the Issue of WiFi, I think we should call for its suspension”, he said.

The Lawmaker representing Arochukwu State Constituency, Hon. Mike Ukoha, urged the House to leave recommendation number 10, because according to him, education is expensive all over the world.

“Mr Chairman, I urge that we leave recommendation number 10 and look for a credible WiFi consultant”, he said.

Leader of the House, Hon. Solomon Akpulonu, moved that the House separate the issue of Acceptance Fee from the WiFi Fee.

The Speaker, in his comments reminded the House why they intervened in the case of ABSU.

“Let me remind this Honourable House that the only reason why this House of Assembly have to intervene in the case of ABSU is that all those concerned were carried along.

“I do not believe that as a Parliament we have rights to start fixing Acceptance Fee for the institutions. I don’t want to be misquoted, some people want to go to school for absolutely free. It is not possible”.

“We should allow this institutions to regulate themselves, but they should carry those stakeholders including students along, once that is done, we don’t have any right to go into those issues.

“It’s ridiculous for them to be charging WiFi fee; it should be part of the contract that any other decent Internet contractor should provide”.

The Speaker said the House will not go into the issue of reduction of the Acceptance Fee.

The Leader said the House should separate the issue of WiFi from Acceptance Fee.

The Speaker put it up for vote and the House affirmed the expulsion of WiFi fee from Abia State Polytechnic.

(11) That the long existing culture of releasing money to the Rector for diesel for his official residence which he doesn’t live in be stopped forthwith.

The Leader Of the House, Hon. Solomon Akpulonu, said the Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee be allowed to explain Recommendation Number 11.

The Speaker interjected and asked the Leader if the House can investigate the Speaker for collecting diesel money for the Speaker’s Lodge.

The Lawmaker representing Bende North State Constituency, Hon. Chukwu Chijioke, urged the House to step down that particular recommendation.

“I Support that we suspend that recommendation”, he said.

The Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee, Hon Jerry Uzosike, said the recommendation was sequel to the fact that when the Committee carried out its investigation, the Rector was not living in the Rector’s Lodge in Aba.

Member representing Umunneochi State Constituency, Hon Okey Igwe aligned himself with the submission of the Lawmaker representing Bende North who urged the House to step down that particular recommendation.

He called for the caution of the Leader of the House who he said was dragging the House back .

The Speaker said the House should Vote on that particular recommendation.

The House voted that the House step down the recommendation.

(12) That Mrs Ihedioha J K should be returned to the Center and also that Mrs Gloria be returned back to serve out her tenure.

(13) Lady Ugochukwu Amuta’s dismissal should be converted to compulsory retirement and not sacked.

(14) That the position of HOD Sports should be unbundled.

(15) That all Union Leaders be recalled forthwith.

(16) That attention should be given to the Institution’s bakery to increase the institution’s IGR

(17 That the State Government should be encouraged to maintain a regular subvention to the Institution.

The Leader of the House said while he was perusing the report of the Committee, he discovered that Abia State Polytechnic Staff earn more than majority of other Polytechnics in the country. He therefore urged that the House look into the findings.

Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Jerry Uzosike, told the Committee that the institution has already submitted a Memo to the State Government for the issue to be handled.

The Member Representing Ugwunagbo State Constituency, Hon. Munachim Alozie, said the House needed to know the action from the move made by the Abia State Polytechnic over the amount each staff of Abia State Polytechnic receives.

“It will be proper for the Chairman to tell us their findings”.

The Leader said the House should add another recommendation for the reduction of the amount received by each staff.

The House added a recommendation that the Salary Structure of the Teaching and non Teaching Staff be reviewed in line with the Salary Structures of State-owned Polytechnics in Nigeria.

The Speaker added that the essence of the last recommendation by the House was to help Abia State Polytechnic find out Salary Structure of other State Polytechnics.

The Member Representing Isialangwa North State Constituency urged the House to recommend that those affected by the downsizing should be accommodated in other State establishments.

The Speaker said the House must restrict itself based on the Information provided by the management of Abia Poly.

“We were told that those that are being downsized are those who didn’t meet up the requirements for employment in the first place in that Institution.

“That Polytechnic preempted this House of Assembly by going into restructuring”, he said.

“We can’t do the job of the Executive, there is no way we would do the Job of the Executive here”, the Speaker said.

He advised those affected to seek other means of assistance

SECOND COMMITEE.

(2) Report on the Abia State University OVER Increased Acceptance Fee.

(1) That the Management of ABSU review the fee paid by Students of ABSU.

The Speaker said the Vice Chancellor of The Abia State University did not carry the Stakeholders along while increasing the fees.

(2) That the State Government should ensure that funds appropriated for ABSU be released as and when Due.

“It has become imperative that this House invite in Camera the Commissioner for Finance to explain to the House whether or not the subvention for ABSU will be paid as and when due.

The Lawmaker Representing Isialangwa North, Hon. Ginger Onwusibe, informed the House that the Committee on Legislative compliance do work to ensure that all recommendations of the House are complied with.

The Speaker reminded the lawmaker that role of the Committee Chairman is to ensure compliance.

Third REPORT on Revenue Leakages by Health Sciences, Aba.

(1) That the House mandate the Governor to set up a Visitation Panel to conduct a certificate verification exercise in the institution and urged to audit the accounts of the School using External Auditors.

(2) That there should be a Procurement Committee for diesel purchase and usage.

The Member For Umunneochi State Constituency, Hon Okey Igwe, moved that one of the recommendations be expunged.

It was subsequently expunged from the recommendations.

(3) That the State Government take steps to reconstitute the Governing Board.

Before putting it up for vote, the Speaker said it was an eyesore that a School would allow shops spring up all around it in order to collect money from people.

“We cannot as a State move forward under lawlessness; we are part of this Government. Over 60% of the State resources is being expended in Aba but at the end what do we see?”

The House adopted a recommendation urging the State Government in conjunction with relevant stakeholders to demolish all shops in front of the Abia State Health Science and Management Technology, Aba, and also the ones on drainages.

(4) That the School should adhere to the Procurement Act of the State.

(5) That the Management should engage Contractors who comply with approved Procedures.

(6) That there is a need to adhere to the Financial Regulations.

(7) That Lloydant Business Services should be relieved of their Services to the Institution.

(9) That the N10million Monthly Subvention to the college be made regularly.

(10) That all the accruing revenue to the Institution be paid to the College.

The Leader of the House, Hon. Solomon Akpulonu moved that the House revert back to full Plenary for the Speaker to take back his seat as Speaker for the purposes of reporting progress from the Committee of the Whole. The Minority Leader seconded the Motion while the House responded in the affirmative when the Speaker put it up for Vote.

The Clerk of the House Reads the Next Item on the Paper.

ADJOURNMENT.

The Speaker announced that the Abia State House of Assembly will be hosting Members of the National Assembly from Abia State in a special session on Wednesday, 30th of October, 2019.

The Majority Leader of the House moved that the House adjourn Plenary to Tuesday 29th, October 2019. The Minority Leader seconded the motion with the House Members responding in the affirmative when the Speaker put the Motion up for Vote.

The Abia State House of Assembly subsequently adjourned at 3:31 pm till Tuesday, 29th of October, 2019

Courtesy: Media Unit, Office of the Rt.Hon. Speaker of the Abia State House of Assembly.

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