Gov. Dickson Scores Bayelsa Assembly As Best Performing Parliament In Nigeria

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… House Passes 16 Bills In 170 Days, Under Rt. Hon. Konbowei

By Piriye Kiyaramo –


[Mr. PIRIYE JONATHAN KIYARAMO is the Special Assistant on Media and

Public Affairs to the Speaker, Bayelsa State House of Assembly, Rt.

Hon. Konbowei Benson Friday.  He writes from Yenagoa.]

The thanksgiving reception of May 13, 2012 at the Glory Land Cultural

Centre for the new Speaker of the fourth Bayelsa State House of

Assembly, Rt. Hon. (Elder) Konbowei Benson Friday, where the governor

of Bayelsa State, Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson, unequivocally affirmed

that the present assembly, under the new leadership of the Southern

Ijaw born politician, was the best performing state house of assembly

in Nigeria, sets another landmark in the political history of Bayelsa

State

 

Although, casual observers of proceedings at plenary sessions of the

house sittings may have taken it with a pinch of salt, but political

pundits and socio-economic analysts, who are in tune with the workings

of the parliament around the world, were not only impressed with the

progress and camaraderie that existed between the executive and

legislature, but commended the sterling leadership qualities of the

amiable new Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. (Elder) Konbowei Benson

Friday.

 

The truth of the matter is that, no other person is more qualified to

give such a glorious pass mark and valid assessment of the members of

the assembly, but Governor Henry Seriake Dickson, a former

Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in the state, who also

served as a vibrant member of the House of Representatives.

 

It is against this background that the activities of the House, led by

Rt. Hon. (Elder) Konbowei Benson Friday, who was sworn-in as Speaker,

on February 20, 2012, is being evaluated.

 

On assumption of office as the sixth Bayelsan to mount rostrum as

Speaker of the House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. (Elder) Benson Friday, set

his agenda to improve parliamentary efficiency, which comprises

effective legislation, executive oversight and true representation.

The Speaker set out to work at once by repositioning the engine room

of the assembly for optimum performance, woven around the amiable

clerk and his staff.

 

Rt. Hon. Konbowei’s positive mien to operate the open door policy, by

allowing his colleagues and the public free access to office to

contribute meaningfully paid off after all.  Little wonder, in less

than six months, the House was able to pass a minimum of sixteen

bills, which have been signed into law by the governor, Hon. Henry

Seriake Dickson.

 

Among the bills passed into law, within the period under review are:

Bayelsa State Thanksgiving Day Bill, 2012, Bayelsa State Fiscal

Responsibility (Amendment) Bill, 2012, Bayelsa State Income and

Expenditure Transparency Bill, 2012, Bayelsa State Secret

Cults/Societies and Similar Activities (Prohibition) Bill, 2012,

Bayelsa State Agency for the Control of HIV/AIDS (Establishment) Bill

2012, the Bayelsa State Government and Local Government Compulsory

Savings Bill, 2012 and the Bayelsa State College of Arts and Science

(Re-Establishment) Bill, 2012.

 

Other bills passed within the period under review include, Bayelsa

State Appropriation Bill, 2011, Bayelsa State Salary Fraud and Related

Offences (Prohibition) Bill, 2012, Bayelsa State Universal Basic

Education Board (Amendment) Bill 2011, Bayelsa State College of

Education (Amendment) Bill, 2012, Bayelsa State Motorcycle Operation

(Prohibition) Bill, 2012, Bayelsa State Security (Electronic

Surveillance ) Bill, 2012, Bayelsa State Security Trust Fund Bill,

2012, Bayelsa State Development and Investment Corporation Bill 2012

and the Bayelsa State Flag, Coat of Arms and Anthem Bill, 2012.

 

These Laws will in no small measure contribute meaningfully to the

social, political and economic development of Bayelsa state, through

the institutions they will bring into existence, with the attendant

procedures that would be expressly put in place.

 

For the sake of posterity, It would be recalled that the first state

house of assembly, which was inaugurated on June 2, 1999, passed

thirty three (33) bills in four years, while the second assembly,

constituted on June 2, 2003, passed a maximum of thirty nine (39)

bills, equally, the third assembly, which was inaugurated on June 4,

2007, passed twenty nine (29) bills.

 

Interestingly, the fourth state house of assembly started legislative

business on June 4, 2011, with Rt. Hon. Nestor K. Binabo as its

Speaker. However, Rt. Hon. Binabo’s tenure was cut short on January

27, 2012, after he was sworn-in as acting governor, following the

termination of the Chief Timipre Sylva’s administration by the Supreme

Court judgment.

It is also on record that between June 4, 2011 and January 27, 2012,

(Eight months), when Rt. Hon. Nestor Binabo, was Speaker of the fourth

State House of Assembly, the House passed only two (2) bills; namely,

Bayelsa State Administration of Estates (Small Estates Payments

Exception) Bill, 2011 and the Bayelsa State Local Government

(Amendment No. 5) Law 2011.

 

Rt. Hon. Konbowei Benson Friday, has performed creditably well within

this short period in office, as the sixth Bayelsan on the saddle as

Speaker, due to his pragmatic efforts to improve parliamentary

transparency, with a view to providing free access to parliamentary

proceedings for the citizenry and to ensure that Members participate

effectively in parliamentary sessions and make qualitative inputs to

debates on the floor of the House.

 

Consequently, punctuality of legislators, which is vital to assembly

sittings, has greatly improved under the new leadership, just as time

spent by Members in session has drastically increased within the last

six months under review.

 

Members of the House have participated in different forms of

parliamentary interventions within the period, leading to the passage

of several resolutions, including the invitation of chairmen of the

original eight local government areas of the state, culminating in the

eventual sack of five of the council chairmen that were indicted at

the end of the assembly probe.

 

Notable resolutions of the fourth assembly, under Rt. Hon. Benson

Friday, include, that on the Chevron Gas Explosion at North Apoi

Platform in Bayelsa State, Withdrawal of the 2012 Budget Estimates,

Invitation of State Representative of Niger Delta Development

Commission (NDDC), Extra–Judicial killing and Destruction of

Properties in Communities in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area,

Restructuring of the Bayelsa State Rural Development Authorities,

Curbing the Indiscriminate Dumping of Sands and Chippings on Roads in

the Yenagoa Metropolis and other matters, Call on Gitto Construction

Company to Order and the resolution on the Deplorable State of the

Sampou/Kaiama Axis of the East/West Road.

 

However, while a strong and assertive legislature remains an essential

ingredient in achieving the restoration agenda of Governor Henry

Seriake Dickson, reforms should have to be implemented in accordance

with the rules of procedures in the conduct of business that governs

the legislature at all times, in enhancing the role of parliamentary

standing committees to encourage transparency, participation and

attendance of legislators.

 

To achieve this objective, the Speaker proposed capacity building

training on fundamental responsibilities of parliamentarians and the

staff in a bid to enhance service delivery, including workshops,

seminars and conferences.

 

This is informed by the need for parliamentarians to be trained on

basic parliamentary procedures, particularly those that are commonly

misused, such as points of order, among others.

 

Rt. Hon. Konbowei, who is concerned about late submission of budgetary

proposals from the executive arm of government, is poised to enhance

the standing committees for optimal performance, with a view to

effectively scrutinize ministries’ and extra-ministerial budgets.

 

In keeping with the idea of increased transparency, the speaker

intends to reposition the fourth assembly to maintain a ‘public

record’ of high capacity delivery of parliamentary business, thus

enabling the various constituents being represented to stay informed

on the performance of their representatives, through live media

coverage of major events of the House. The recent probe into the

original eight local government councils is a case in point.

 

The House under the leadership of Rt. Benson Friday is favourably

disposed to guiding the present administration in pursuing the path of

good governance that would lead to the attainment of the governor’s

restoration agenda. The restoration plan of Governor Seriake Dickson

envisages achieving better quality of life for all Bayelsans and the

Ijaw nation at large.

 

The Speaker and his well respected colleagues in the House share in

the vision of the state’s chief executive, just as Members of the

House are united in pursuing those values and ideals that would

engender peace, tranquility, national unity, good governance, probity

and an educated society, imbued with an ambition to develop and build

an economy which would be competitive with sustained growth for the

benefit of all Bayelsans and the Ijaw nation at large.

 

Rt. Hon. Konbowei Benson Friday, started his political career as

Councillor in Southern Ijaw Legislative Assembly, where he was elected

as deputy minority leader. He later became Chairman of Southern Ijaw

Local Government Council. He contested the Southern Ijaw constituency

IV Seat in the Bayelsa State House of Assembly in 1997 and won. Rt.

Hon. Benson Friday was until his elevation to the position of Speaker

of the House, as the Chief Whip of the House. He was Chairman, House

Committee on Environment, Oil and Gas. He hails from Korokorosei

Community in Apoi-Olodiama Development Area in Southern Ijaw Local

Government Area. Rt. Hon. Benson Friday, hold an Ordinary National

Diploma (OND), from University of Calabar, Higher National Diploma

from Akwa Ibom Polytechnic, Post Graduate Diploma from the Institute

of Administration, Lagos and a Masters degree from the Delta State

University, Abraka, all in Public Administration. He is married with

children.

Mr. PIRIYE JONATHAN KIYARAMO is the Special Assistant on Media and

Public Affairs to the Speaker, Bayelsa State House of Assembly, Rt.

Hon. Konbowei Benson Friday.  He writes from Yenagoa.

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