2nd September, 2011
â€œMy election has come at a time when the legislature has been battered by those who are supposed to protect it. This has, therefore, placed on me a huge responsibility to work in tandem with all stakeholders to redeem the image of the legislature.â€
These were the words of the Ogun State House of Assembly Speaker, Prince Surajudeen Adekunbi representing Yewa North 1 Constituency during the inauguration of the seventh legislature on 6 June 2011.
Adekunbi, a first timer in public office assured that the new members of the Assembly, â€œare set to make good laws that will make governance a huge success,â€ stressing further that it was the resolved of the House â€œto carry our legislative functions without fear or favour and we shall strive to live up to the expectation of the electorate.â€
In achieving the goal, the Speaker urged the Assembly members to “regularly visit your constituents to feel their pulse. Together, let us promote the covenant between the government and the people. In the same vein, I implore members of the public to open their minds and freely relate with the honourable members representing them each time they come.â€
The Speaker in an interview with our correspondent affirms that it has been promise made and promise kept. He explained that the promise to carry out state legislative duties without fear or favour started â€œwhen the names of the commissioner nominees were sent to the House by the state governor, Sen. Ibikunle Amosun in July.
â€œSome of you who were present during the session perhaps noted the thoroughness and industry we deplored in the screening of the nominees.
“Questions were asked without hindrance on their knowledge and capability in working for the state.â€
Adekunbi said the screening showed that the present crop of legislators â€œwill not be a stooge of the executive as it was during the tail end of the last legislature which brought about what I will call the unprogressive and stooge elements in the House. The commissioners were drilled and seriously assessed and at the end of the day, we were convinced that they are worthy of their appointments.â€
The Speaker who could best be described as a green horn said that on studying the budget proposal, the amendment made was also an indication that the present crop lawmakers will not succumb to the whim and caprices of the executive. â€œIn fact, upon the first reading of the Budget proposal, it was sent to the House committee on Appropriation.
And to show that we mean business, the amendment made shows that not everything presented will follow the line of the Executive.
The N105.5 billion budget proposed almost divided the House because there was growing contention among the lawmakers that the new Appropriation Bill, coming seven months into the current financial year, was grossly against the tenets of the nationâ€™s Constitution.
However, this was immediately resolved as it was changed to a supplementary budget rather than a fresh appropriation law.
Governor Amosun had forwarded the Appropriation Bill to the Assembly, comprising N42.8 billion for recurrent expenditure, N48.6 billion for capital expenditure and N14.1 billion estimated for consolidated revenue.
Amosun, in a letter attached to the bill, asked the lawmakers to nullify the N105,552,466,284.04 appropriation bill passed by the Assembly on 1 March,2011 during the tenure of the administration of Otunba Gbenga Daniel.
The governor, who maintained that his new estimates superceded the one earlier passed by the G-11 lawmakers in the outgone sixth legislature, described the process of passing the earlier bill as controversial.
A lawmaker, Hon. Adijat Motunrayo Adeleye-Oladapo, representing Ifo 2 State Constituency, had observed that the budget violated certain sections of the nationâ€™s constitution. She explained that the governor ought to have presented the budget before the end of June to satisfy the provisions of the constitution concerning Appropriation Bill.
Her words: â€œWhen I went through the bill, I discovered it was in violation of Sections 121 and 122 of the constitution. Section 121 (1) says: â€˜the governor shall cause to be prepared and lay before the House of Assembly at any time before the commencement of each financial year, estimate of the revenues and expenditure of the state for the next following financial year.â€™
â€œSo, it means the governor needs to present the budget before the House sometime before the financial year heâ€™s presenting. He must present it before the House; that is, the governor shall cause to be prepared and laid before the House of Assembly at any time before the commencement of any financial year,estimate of the revenues and expenditure of the state for the next financial year. That is to tell you that it cannot be during that same financial year that you present the budget; it must be before the financial year of the budget you are presenting, she said.
On any challenge of any bill so far, Adekunbi was of the opinion that such may not happen as the experience of the governor in legislation would guide him to avoid such contentious bill. â€œI think we can not have that here. The governor, you know is an experienced legislator, having served creditably in the Senate. I’m sure he will be very careful in presenting any bill which will be challenged.â€
He cited the Bill on State and Local Government Joint project sharing as example of such bill. According to him, â€œit was unambiguous and clear to us. We all realise the importance of having such a bill in the state and after a stakeholdersâ€™ meeting, the process of passing the bill is at an advanced stage.â€
On oversight functions, Adekunbi said members, to the best of his knowledge having been doing that also with the support of the people and government concerned. â€œIn fact, as I am talking to you now, the Committee on Special Duties is meeting with the Special Duties Ministry team to know what and what projects or programmes on their table. It is a collective responsibility which we all have to ensure its success.â€
The last general election was a clear indication that virtually all the elective posts in Ogun State, were won by the wish of the masses, whose desire for a change manifested with the overwhelming results posted by the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) candidates.
â€”Abiodun Onafuye, Abeokuta