6th June, 2011
The former Commissioner for Finance, who was also a governorship aspirant of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Kwara state in the 2011 general election, Barrister Abdul Rasaq Atunwa has emerged as the new Speaker of the State House of Assembly.
The seventh Assembly which began its session at about 11 a.m. was presided over by the Clerk of the House, Alhaji Saka Amuda Kanike, who conducted the proceedings and the election.
Other officers elected include Prof. Muhammed Gana-Yisa, the former commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources in the immediate past administration in the state as Deputy Speaker, while both Hon Abraham Ashaolu and Fatah Salman were elected as Majority leader and Deputy Majority leader respectively.
Similarly, the House elected Hon. Iliyasu Ibrahim and Hajia Sikirat Anako as Chief Whip and Deputy Chief Whip of the house respectively.
In his acceptance speech, Atunwa promised to justify the confidence repose in him, while also pledging to discharge his duties in accordance with the norms of the House and constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
However, the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, the major opposition party, in a statement signed by its Chairman, Mr. Kayode Olawepo, dismissed as petty, unconventional, arrogant and unacceptable the hurried amendment the PDP-dominated House did to the Kwara House of Assembly Rules to the effect that unless any opposition party has up to three members in the House, the position of the House Minority leader would be non-existent.
ACN has only two members representing it in the newly inaugurated House of Assembly.
ACN said; â€œ This is dubious and undemocratic, it is not done anywhere in the world. It is the convention in any democracy all over the world, including Nigeria, that when opposition party(ies) is represented in the House of Assembly, the position of Minority Leader would be automatically given to them.â€
The ACN cited as example the immediate past 40-member Lagos House of Assembly where the PDP had only two members as against ACNâ€™s 38 and one of the two PDP members was given the position of Minority Leader with all the rights and privileges accorded him.
While rejecting the decision of the PDP dominated House of Assembly to shut the door against its members from enjoying what is their right in a democratic setting, the party demanded the immediate reversal of such undemocratic rule.
By Stephen Olufemi Oni/Ilorin