By Shuaib Abdulkadri
As the 8th Legislature in Kwara State formally ended its legislative activities on Friday, 7th June, 2019, which automatically paves the way for the incoming 9th Assembly, it couldn’t but be said that the Lawmakers came, saw and proved to the world that the state can perfectly rival other states in terms of making good laws that would have direct and positive impact on the lives of the people. In the anal history of lawmaking in the state, the 8th Legislature would not be forgotten so soon.
Interestingly, the outgoing lawmakers majorly came into the House as rookies except for the six of the 24 members who were returnees members as they served in the 7th Legislature, they knew little or nothing about lawmaking or legislative processes, however, today they could beat their chests as one of the best sets of Lawmakers to have been produced in the state. In terms of Motions and Bills passed, the 8th Assembly Members stand tall among their contemporaries in the whole country.
The feat could be attributed to their level of engagements and deliberations on the floor of the House on varying issues as well as the quality and importance of Bills enacted to improve socio-economic activities of the state with positive impact on the lives of the citizenry. Unarguably, the 8th Assembly has the highest private member Bills in the history of lawmaking in Kwara State.
Of the 46 Bills passed, 14 were sponsored by the members and have become operational laws in the state with 120 impactful Motions, a clear departure from the norms where the members only wait for the Executive to send Bills for consideration.
Furthermore, the House was fortunate to have had Principal Officers that were highly experienced in legislative processes and were able to steer the ship perfectly with blend of young, virile, versatile-active lawmakers who work tirelessly to ensure that the four year opportunity was not wasted. Indeed, it paid off as posterity would judge them right. Though, the achievement recorded not without challenges but as a unit the legislators forged ahead knowing full well that their days were numbered.
It should be noted that all the 24 members resumed as party All Progressives Congress members before defecting to the Peoples Democratic Party en route 2015 general elections, with the exception of the member who represented Balogun/Ojomu constituency who chose to stay put in the APC. Before this time though, despite the fact that they belonged to the same political party under Saraki dynasty, this never at any point in time deter them from having robust engagements and deliberations. At some point the lawmakers were tagged ‘’anti’’ as if they were working for the opposition against the former governor Abdulfatah Ahmed’s administration.
As a matter of fact, the ex-governor made a confessional statement last year while making a speech at a programme organised by the Kwara State Internal Revenue Service to mark his birthday, saying that on several occasions, he had been called that the lawmakers ably led by Rt. Hon. Dr. Ali Ahmad were working against him but chose to look the other way and tell them they were only doing their work as expected of them. This justifies the confidence reposed in them by their various Constituents.
The 8th Assembly had on several occasions kicked against some moves and actions of the immediate past governor whenever they deemed it would have negative effect on the masses. Several loans approval were rejected by the House while the members didn’t shy away from inviting any government appointees who might be failing in his or her duties to ask questions and put them on their toes, several probing was conducted to make clarifications on government dealings while recommendations were submitted for necessary action by the Executive.
Some of the moments that define the 8th Assembly were probing of the Harmony Holdings which manages the state’s property both within and outside the state. It’s dreaded officials who to some extent had formed cabal were summoned for questioning while the report of the committee’s findings were read on the floor of the House against all odds. This was done out of the members commitment, will and zeal to work for the betterment of the state against various threat in some quarters while the recommendations was read for necessary Executive action.
Also, the 8th Legislature took a bold step by opposing the Executive action when some parts of the land belonging to Government Secondary School, Ilorin were allocated for building and construction of offices it organised a public hearing and made the people’s views count even though the then administration went ahead with the project.
The Ali Ahmad led 8th House waded into the serious crisis that emanated between the former governor Abdulfatah Ahmed’s administration and the students of Kwara State Polytechnic when the school fees were increased without the students knowledge. It caused lots of crises that the House had to summon every stakeholders involved to several meetings before the matter was resolved to the students’ favour.
Equally, Kwara 8th Legislature recorded another feat with the legislation of Kwara State Prohibition of Dealing with Human Parts Law and Prohibition against the Manufacture, Sale and Consumption of Liquor in Certain Areas Law. The public hearings and law drew wide applause from both old and young, Christians, Muslims as well as indigenes and settlers in the state. The 8th Assembly would forever be remembered for taking the bold step in passing the law against all forms of opposition and threats.
The 8th Assembly through its handling of matters that were very important to Kwarans restored people’s confidence and trust in the legislature. Massive attendance was recorded at public hearings conducted by various committees throughout the four years. Professionals from various fields felt free to share their views and expertise at the public hearings for the benefit of the state. This was due to the fact that their submissions were put to use by the House as it always reflected in various reports recommendations.
Undoubtedly, the 8th Legislature have raised lawmaking bar in Kwara State with distinct achievements and as well provided a platform for successive legislators in the state to thrive, be independent, work in accordance with the law establishing the legislative arm of government which stressed their autonomy and not subjective of the Executive arm under any guise. The outgoing members have indeed proven beyond reasonable doubt that truly they are people’s representatives.
To further achieve this, the 1999 Constitution has been amended for the state assemblies to enjoy autonomy and resist Executive interference on their legislative activities; this would keep reflecting on the nation’s nascent democracy as it evolves while the Constituents continue to reap the dividends of democracy.
Therefore, the challenges for the incoming 9th Assembly is how to carry on from where the 8th Legislature stops in terms of important Motions and Bills passed. Regardless that all the 24 members belonged to the same political party, the onus is on the legislators to ensure that they work in the ways and manner of the outgoing lawmakers. This can be done through jettisoning of their political party while at the floor of the House, party’s and individual interests must also be set aside should they stand any chance of reciprocating the achievements of the 8th Assembly.
More so, it would be beneficial to the 9th Assembly members to put aside their individual differences by supporting whosoever emerge as the speaker as well as those who would constitute the principal officers of the House. The cordial working relationship enjoyed by the 8th Assembly members is one of their driving force, therefore the incoming members must strive to build on that and move on to the next level.
Abdulkadir, is the Special Assistant (Media) to the outgoing Speaker, Kwara State House of Assembly and can be reached via: firstname.lastname@example.org