The House is surely a waste pipe, a drain on the economy of the State. Recently media Report reveals that the Cross River State House of Assembly may have expended well over N546m from the total of N1.7b that was appropriated for the State Legislature in the 2012 Appropriation Law on the salaries and emoluments of its twenty five members within the last legislative session. The House within the same period passed only seven bills into law and fifty six resolutions.
The Cross River State House of Assembly is created by Section 7 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999. The primary responsibility of the House of Assembly is to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the State or any part thereof with respect to the following matters, that is to say- (a) any matter not included in the Exclusive Legislative List set out in Part I of the Second Schedule to this Constitution; (b) any matter included in the Concurrent Legislative List set out in the first column of Part II of the Second Schedule to this Constitution to the extent prescribed in the second column opposite thereto; and (c) any other matter with respect to which it is empowered to make laws in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.
The House of Assembly of Cross River State is one of the worst in the Country. The quality of debate is poor, half-hearted and indeed appalling. A lot of the so called Honorable members have no business being in the house. If not for the efficient and ruthless rigging machinery of the Peoples Democracy Party coupled with the docility and greed of the electorate in the State, most of the members would be walking the streets of Calabar today jobless. You imagine how many bills the house has passed into law and the amount of money coughed out by tax payers.
It goes without saying that the House is totally and completely under the thumb of the executive branch of government, so much so that no bill passed under the outgoing legislative session was initiated by any member. All the bills passed into law were executive bills initiated by the executive. There is no gainsaying that the House is a rubber stamp, a debating society! This is a dismal record.
It is on record that the House of Assembly enjoys self-imposed dependency on the executive branch of Government. The House made history when it outrageously and misguidedly voted against the proposal for self financial independence made during the last exercise for the amendment of the Constitution in 2011!
It has been proven beyond a shadow of doubt that majority of the members decidedly lack the capacity or know how to be members of the House. Even in oversight functions which is one of the ways through which the House can check the excesses of the executive the performance of the house is nothing to home about.
The oversight jurisdiction of the House of Assembly is conferred by Section 128 subsections 1 & 2 of the Constitution which provides that Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, a House of Assembly shall have power by resolution published in its journal or in the official Gazette of the Government of the State to direct or cause to be directed an inquiry or investigation into- (a) any matter or thing with respect to which it has power to make laws; and (b) the conduct of affairs of any person, authority, Ministry or government department charged, or intended to be charged, with the duty of or responsibility for- (i) executing or administering laws enacted by that House of Assembly; and (ii) disbursing or administering moneys appropriated or to be appropriated by such House. (2) The powers conferred on a House of Assembly under the provisions of this section are exercisable only for the purpose of enabling the House to- (a) make laws with respect to any matter within its legislative competence and correct any defects in existing laws; and (b) expose corruption, inefficiency or waste in the execution or administration of laws within its legislative competence and in the disbursement or administration of funds appropriated by it.
The House seldom carries out its oversight functions. When it does members abuse it by and twisting members of the executive branch of government to bribe them. In one instance of dabbling into areas the House is not constitutionally empowered to go into, a member of the House used his clout and influence to stop the inauguration by the Chief Judge of the Cross River State of Nigeria of membership of the District Courts in Yakurr Local Government Area because his father desire to be President in the District Court in Ugep went awry when he failed the examination set for applicants for appointments as members of the Customary Courts.
The result of the meddlesome of this Member of the House is that the District Courts in Ugep and Ekori respectively in Yakurr Local Government Area has not sat for the past three years! You can imagine the revenue that the State has lost because of the insensitivity and selfishness of this Member! You can also imagine what his obviously callous action has done to the administration of justice at the local level.
All what preoccupy members of the House is how to pander to the executive to get crumbs such as contract awards and other favors.
Why has the House maintained a studied silence on the huge debt profile of Tinapa Business Resort which has taken a drain on the lean resources of the State? Why has the House refused to launch an inquiry in regard to the huge debt profile of the State arising from the reckless borrowing embarked on the by last administration in under Donald Duke the State under the guise of the development of Tinapa ?
Imagine if the colossal amount of money wasted in the House was invested in education, health, infrastructure and social services how much the fortunes of the State would have been enhanced.
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