The Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) Akwa Ibom State Chapter has described the State House of Assembly as being too weak to be an arm of government in a democratic setting, alleging that the legislature has been tied to the apron-string of the Executive.
The State Chairman of CLO, Otuekong Franklyn Isong in a chat with journalists in Uyo on Thursday said the 7th Assembly lacks initiative in carrying out its oversight functions, adding that the House merely passes motions to approve loans for the Executive without monitoring the utilization of such funds.
He, however, regretted that the legislature was unable to unravel the allegation that it received N1.057 billion of constituency project as indicated in the annual report of the Accountant General of the State before it came public saying that the act of setting up a committee by the legislature to probe the report at the tail end was just a ‘crying shame.’
His words, “From the Accountant General’s report, the government claimed to have given the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly the sum of N1.057b for constituency projects.
“Now, we have not seen any of these projects on the ground, and the house waited for this to come public before reacting?
“It means that each of the 26 state constituencies may have smiled to the bank with N40.6m. Now, show us what you have been able to do with the money.
“For me, the 7th Assembly is tied to the apron string of the Executive. You only pass motions authorizing the Executive to receive loan, without monitoring how the loans were utilized. Attend their sittings, you would see that the Assembly is no longer interactive because of the quality of men there.”
The CLO also berated the Assembly over non-implementations of recommendations by members of the public during public hearing, noting that observations around the ongoing worship center which he said was not meant to be built with public funds were ignored by the Assembly.
Also, a serving member of the 7th Assembly who did not want to be mentioned said the house has lost its relevance as an arm of government.
According to him, “The 7th Assembly is now like one of the MDAs of government, it is no longer fit to be considered an arm of government. Look at the people working on a budget, they have no clear cut understanding of what they are doing. They go for oversight functions but cannot ask relevant questions. Members no longer have the boldness to query the issues they are not comfortable with, just because they do not want to be starved of funds”.
However, The Chairman, Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly Committee on Information, Barr Aniefiok Dennis has said the 7th Assembly has remained alive to its responsibilities and was not influenced by anyone.
He said it was the responsibility of the Executive to implement the budget, “but, as Legislature, we have, through our various committees remained committed in the discharge of our oversight function”. he said
On the alleged N1.057bn constituency project fund, the lawmaker who assured that a committee has been set up to look into the report promised to update members of the public as soon as the report of the committee is out.