The speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Onofiok Luke, has defended the assembly’s record of passing only two bills out of 11 it received, into law in the last one year.
The two bills are the 2016 appropriation bill and the amendment of the 2007 local government administration law, which paved the way for the constitution of caretaker committees to run the 31 local government areas in the state.
Mr. Luke, who was addressing the House of Assembly, Wednesday, during the end of its first legislative year, regretted that the assembly was not able to pass “some very important bills” in the last one year because, according to him, many of the legislators were distracted by “time-sapping” cases in the election tribunal and at the Court of Appeal, Abuja.
Mr. Luke said some the committee heads in the House made frequent trips to Abuja for court cases about their elections.
He listed the bills pending before the house to include, A Bill for a law to protect the physically challenged persons against discriminations and provide for equal opportunities for all; Akwa Ibom State Revenue Administration Bill; Bill For A Law For The Classification, Registration, And Licensing Of Hotels And Other Tourism Establishments In Akwa Ibom State; Bill For A Law To Provide For Control Of Rent For Premises, Recovery Of Possession Of Premises, And For Other Matters Connected Therewith.
“We had court judgements which led to unfortunate rerun elections and a brief disruption of the House leadership,” said Mr. Luke who became speaker on December, 2015, after his predecessor, Aniekan Uko (member, representing Ibesikpo-Asutan State Constituency) was sacked by the Court of Appeal.
Mr. Uko later returned to the assembly after winning a rerun.
The speaker admitted that the assembly had not “measured up to expectations in the last one year” because the legislators failed to hold constituency briefing for their constituents.
The problem here has to do with lack of finance, Mr. Luke said.
“We also do know that constituency briefings in our clime usually come with empowerment programmes. We often embark on those financial empowerment initiatives from savings made from our entitlements and emoluments as lawmakers.
“There is no provision made in the assembly’s budget for economic empowerment programmes such as those which come with constituency briefings,” he said.
Mr. Luke said despite the setbacks, “the last one year was a productive one in which we prevailed against the odds”.
He mentioned the approvals given to loan requests by Governor Udom Emmanuel as an evidence that the House was committed to the development of the state, and promised that the house will do better in the next legislative year.