… 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
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
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
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
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
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.