Sunday, 7 September 2014

Article: Prospects And Expectations Of Imo State House Of Assembly's Last Legislative Year

Speaker Benjamin Uwajimogu

By Emeka Ahaneku

Come 9th September, 2014, the Imo State Assembly would open the doors for a new legislative year. Full legislative activities are expected to kick-start at the floor of the chambers of the Imo State House of Assembly. In the past two months or so, the House has been on recess.  After what one could call a productive third legislative year, during which important bills and motions were passed. During this vacation, there is no doubt that each and every lawmaker had an intense question and answer session by friends and of course, with their constituents.
From this intra and inter personal interactions,  I can assure Imolites, that a lot has been gained by our representatives in the last three years in terms of experience and expertise needed for legislative business. Therefore, as they begin sitting in earnest for the new session, they will focus more on issues and areas that are of utmost concern to their constituents. Also, issues that concern the generality of the State and most importantly, the sustenance of its achievements in the past three years.

It has been said and equally acknowledged that the executive and legislative cooperation according to the principals of separation of powers these three years has yielded positive dividends. We saw motions and bills that touched the masses of the State given quick passage and assent. The implementation of such laws have also been proceeding at tremendous pace and recording verifiable tangibility that have added value to the lives of Imolites. The people themselves have been responding positively too. Across the State, the general sentiment is that the State has never had it so good. Other positive expressions of gratitude equally abound.

Rt. Hon Benjamin Chukwuemeka Uwajumogu, sees this resurgent sentiment as sign of restoration of people’s confidence in government and I personally agree. The people are seeing things being done with their money as have never happened before. So, to them it’s a new dawn and therefore, the beginning of a new way of looking at government. So, as the IMHA walks into the last legislative year with its head high, because of the historic achievements made so far, honorable members will quickly sit-down, adjust and extend its legislative hand of fellowship to the masses for the speeding up of its landmark laws and motions that has transformed into laudable policies, programmes and projects that have firmly restored the confidence of the people in government. No matter how you look at it, this attainment did not come just overnight and for those concerned, the belief is that they are aware of this and should therefore, not indulge in acts that could make a mess of the reputation. After all, our people say a good name is worth more than gold.

 It is true that the State Assembly, led by Rt. Hon  Benjamin Uwajumogu,  in the last years had continued to set the pace for their colleagues in other states to follow, through the robust and effective representation which have impacted positively in the lives of the citizens of the state.

  The sacrifices and   people-oriented bills and motions passed by the House in the last three years had ensured the smooth and timely provision of democracy dividends which is currently scattered in every nook and cranny of the state, a feat that   earned the House great reputations and enviable laurels, even as it recently won the most productive Assembly in the South East zone and second in the country, as well as remained on the part of peace, unity and corresponding success.

Against this sunny backdrop, every hand must be on deck from September 2014 as lawmakers will reach back into their reservoir of knowledge garnered from various trainings they undertook. Some years back, the Speaker Hon. Uwajumogu and Members were in Namibia for the Common Wealth Inter-parliamentary Association Conference. Sometime ago too in the course of its recess, lawmakers have also been to South Africa for capacity building. With all these experiences in their kitty and knowing the burning zeal in the Speaker and indeed, all lawmakers, one can say with every degree of certitude that this legislative year would be far better than the last one.

So, Imo people should expect laws that will target the enhancement of what has been put on ground so far. If you look around the State, the road revolution is fully on course. Roads by their nature and function are the arteries of economic activities. With good roads every society can boast of having laid foundations of economic development. Certainly, the Rescue Administration in the State is doing exactly this going by the massive road work on-going in the State. But, with roads, in place it must be noted that other issues must come into the mix for the government objective to become a reality.

Prominent in this regard is the coming of investors into the State to take advantage of the improved economic and business environment. Like we know the investor brings the needed capital which he/she ploughs back into an economy for various reasons which is profit making. Now, everybody knows quite alright that no investor would want to lose his hard earned capital in the name of investing in an economy. Therefore, they are always seriously concerned about legislation or laws that give protection to investment.

And, when you talk of the laws, our gaze naturally shifts to the IMHA. In this legislative year therefore, our legislators will look for ways to deepen the State government’s investment drive by enacting laws that encourage investors to invest in the State. Whether we like it or not, expediency demands so because it has become glaring that government alone lacks the capacity to tackle all societal problems. Take the bursting issue of unemployment for instance. Imo, our dear State before now boasts of one of the largest army of unemployed graduates. Even with best of intentions and policies, government alone can’t employ them. There are no resources to take care of them even as the openings that exist are too meager. To come out of this quagmire, only one route is available and that is involvement of private investors. These investors are like hot cakes as they are being wooed by virtually every government. Given this competitive environment they always prefer environments that meet all their requirements. Given this scenario, it has become imperative even, crucial, that IMHA takes this issue with every seriousness so that the twin social problems of youth employment/empowerment could be tackled.

In its absence, we all know what transpires; crimes and criminalities. Of course, this cycle is always deleterious to the society for the fact that it slows the engines of growth. At this critical stage of the Rescue Administration all that is needed is consolidation and sustenance in this area so that in the end, actors of the government can beat their chest and say they invested in the future.

We expect our legislators to represent. We expect members to bring into the legislative process the views, needs and interests of their constituents; we expect the legislature as an institution to provide a forum where the interests and demands of all segments of the society are expressed. But, while we want the legislative arm of government to be a forum where the full range of views is expressed, we also want our elected representatives to make decisions to pass laws. Obviously, not just any law will do. In characterizing what sort of laws the House of Assembly is expected to pass, two criteria are frequently mentioned and often conflated. The Assembly as it enters its last lap will concentrate on laws that reflect the will of the people; that is, Uwajumogu led house will continue to be responsive to popular majorities. They will pass laws that deal promptly and effectively with pressing state problems.

As a federation with consisting units, our constitution no doubt assigned them roles and responsibilities. Sometimes these roles coincide and at other times are separate. Given this position, the Rt. Hon. Speaker has always wondered the possibility of a law that can control tenancy agreements for the benefit of the masses.

This being the case, I think the time has come for the State legislature to perfect the tenancy bill and other bills waiting to be enacted into law.

Fresh from their well spent recess, brimming with fresh ideas and rearing to go like combat-ready soldiers, these and many other areas of public interest deserve immediate look-in from our lawmakers. Certainly, they know the enormity of the task ahead of them

Surely, the Hon. Uwajumogu led House is aware that the clock is ticking, after all they wear watches. By implication, they do not have all the time in the world. So, within the purview of this new legislative year, our honorable members will give us all things to cheer about. They will confine partisan and personal interests to the back seat while the collective interest of the State and its citizenry will be given desirable prominence.

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