In this report, SAM EGWU evaluates the performance of Kogi State House of Assembly from August 3, 2017 when a new leadership took over the state legislature, following Governor Yahaya Bello’s intervention, till date.
About a year ago, the Kogi State House of Assembly was in a shamble. It was reduced to an arena where honourable members and journalists were being exposed to physical attacks. The crisis that engulged the state legislature led to the resignation of then Speaker of the House, Hon Ahmed Imam, representing Lokoja 1 constituency on August 3, 2017.
To avoid the vacuum created by his resignation, the member representing Kabba Bunnu Constituency, Hon Kolawole Mathew, was nominated and elected the 12th Speaker of the Kogi State House of Assembly. Kolawole’s election came following his nomination by the member representing Ankpa, Ahmed Mohammed, and seconded by the member representing Okehi constituency, Abdulkareem Kekere.
Following Kolawole’s emergence as the Speaker about 11 Months ago, expectations were high that he would stabilise and turn around the dwindling fortune of the state’s legislative arm of government within a short time. The expectation was premised on his acceptance speech in which he promised that the lingering feud that took centre stage at the State House of Assembly right from day one of its inauguration would be a thing of the past.
In his acceptance speech, Kolawole promised to carry all aggrieved members along and ensure effective legislation and people-driven parliament.
Keen observers of happenings in the state posit that it takes just a cursory look at the Assembly eleven months after Kolawole took over the mantle of leadership to affirm that the game, both legislative and political, have changed. The thinking is that Kolawole did not let Governor Yahaya Bello and the people of the state down, as he has been able to make some remarkable changes in the House.
At a time when the prevailing adverse situation called for dispassionate stock taking as a necessity to liberate and rescue the state legislature from despair and hopelessness, the new leadership of the 6th Assembly in Kogi State that was crisis ridden brought normalcy to the House. The state governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, confirmed this at the end of third legislative session of the 6th Assembly last Friday.
He said, “Three years ago, this Assembly was sworn-in, actually a few months before my own inauguration. Within that time, these awesome gentlemen have weathered the storm of discord with maturity to overcome the constraints of inadequate funding with graciousness and consistently attended to the legislative functions with admirable resolve and hardwork. There are legislators who could interpret the principle of separation of powers to mean senseless and intractable conflicts with the executive.
“Others believe the role of the Legislature is to turn government upside down via misconceived activism without considering the adverse impact of a government in turmoil on the welfare of citizens. The Kogi State House of Assembly is not among these. Looking at legislators elsewhere who travel the extra mile to infamy by using blackmail to score an unfair percentage of available resources to themselves, even if it means holding critical governance instruments hostage, our experience in Kogi State with this Assembly has been wonderfully different.
“They have been happy to stand side-by-side with the people and with us in the sacrifices everyone has had to make as we ration resources and weather the storms of economic slowdown. We applaud the Honourable Speaker, Rt. Hon. Mathew Kolawole for his visionary leadership of this House. We also salute the extraordinary work ethic of every Honourable Member. Their legislative output in less than two and a half years is nothing short of being prodigious”.
The governor, in his remarks, acknowkedged Speaker Kolawole’s administrative skills in bridging the link between the executive and the legislature as well as bringing normalcy to the Assembly. In his assessment of the Speaker’s leadership, Engr Samson Abutu told LEADERSHIP that the expectations were not in vain as peace has returned to the Assembly legislation for purposeful development guaranteed.
He said, “History has repeatedly shown that there is hardly any successful leader without a clear cut vision. Visionary leaders know where they are going even if it is not clear to their followers from day one; they set targets for themselves. the likes of Kolawole Mathew is sufficiently equipped and prepared for leadership.
“Beyond his wealth of experience, exposure and impressive track records, he cuts the picture of a leader with clear cut strategic vision.Vision and strategy formulation are among the most important responsibilities of any genuine leader”.
Similarly, most legislative staff have attested to a good working environment. They said with Speaker Kolawole’s eleven months leadership in the House of Assembly, a lot has changed positively for the benefit of members, the electorates and the state Besides, they said it has become customary for members to embark on execution of constituency projects which has become competitive under the Kolawole-led state House of Assembly.
Attesting to this, the chairman, House committee on information, Hon Enenche said, “As Assembly we remain united and committed in the discharge of legislative business. Of course, everybody has right as a member of the Kogi State House of Assembly to aspire for any position, but that doesn’t mean that your aspiration will translate to reality. As far as we are concerned as members of the Kogi State House of Assembly, we are united and focused.
“We have our leadership under Prince Mathew Kolawole and there has not been any pressure from any where to quit him out of that office. We are not in crisis in any form again. No crisis is looming, but of course we are taken aback when rumours and information start springing up from left and right that such a thing is going on”.
At the end of session last Friday, Speaker Kolawole thanked Governor Bello and the state judiciary for making the dream of the State Assembly come true. He said, “Three years ago, the Sixth Assembly was inaugurated and the distinguished Honourable Members envisioned the dream of further entrenching democratic practices, ensuring the rule of law, and establishing order and good governance in our State.
“The Sixth Assembly has truly savoured its power to stabilize the administration of the 4th elected Governor of Kogi State in spite of various challenges; which has further strengthened democracy in conformity with Section 11(4) and (5) of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution (as amended). As a united House of Assembly, the Honourable Members have exercised nothing but their constitutional powers derived in Section 100, 128 among others to justify the mandate of our respective constituents.
“As an active part of this government, we extended our unalloyed cooperation towards the modest achievement of the Executive through prompt consideration and approval of policy instruments, requests and ensure that there existed an excellent relationship that promotes social security, order, and good governance. We have equally collaborated with the Judiciary with our continued and common belief in our shared principle of separation of power”.
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