Distinguished colleagues, today makes it exactly 1,135 days since we took the oath of office, vowing to abide by the principles of democracy, to be loyal to the cause for the actualization of the Akwa Ibom project, and to defend the interest of the people by whose mandate we are privileged to serve this land. We must give thanks to God Almighty for His Amazing Grace which has brought us this far in our patriotic investment of time, energy and resources in the legislative business of our dear state.
Indeed the last legislative year has been an eventful one. It marked 25 years of the Akwa Ibom state Legislature, the very year that we celebrated, reassessed and took stock of the fecundity or otherwise of the lawmaking institution in our dear state. The historic joint sitting with our sister Cross River state House of Assembly and other events which marked that silver jubilee will remain a fond memory. It was also the legislative year in which we took part in a major national constitution amendment exercise, one that promises to reshape Nigeria’s democracy as we know it. And this House will be remembered for seizing the opportunity of that exercise to sit Akwa Ibom state pretty on the right side of Nigeria’s political history.
But perhaps even more telling has been our recorded strides in lawmaking during the last legislative year. The commitment and high sense of responsibility of lawmakers and legislative staff resulted in an increase in the number of life-touching laws that the 6th assembly has so far made. In specifics, this House has passed into law 15 private member bills out of 41 presented, and 11 executive bills with about 37 others currently at different legislative stages. This modest effort brings to 26 the total number of laws passed so far by the 6th assembly. We have been able to achieve this much because we have corporately committed ourselves to accelerating legislative actions on our bills and motions.
But the satisfaction for us would not be in the number of bills passed so far, but rather in the quality of the bills and in the democratization of the legislative process of the passage of the bills. In the last 3 years for instance, standing and ad hoc committees of this honourable house have conducted at least 30 public hearings on private member and executive bills, the highest so far in the history of the assembly. These events have attracted informed inputs into the bills, thereby helping us ultimately centre the laws around the actual needs of the people.
As the People’s Assembly, the laws which we have crafted are to meet the long term development goals of the state, as well as the short term ambitions of government. We have passed bills to fast-track economic development and to diffuse the dividends of democracy directly to the masses. We have passed bills to strengthen local government administration in the state; bills to hasten the dispensation of justice; bills to fortify the state’s education system particularly at the tertiary level; bills to boost the revenue base of Akwa Ibom; bills to meet the social, health, and infrastructural needs of the people; environmental protection laws; and only recently, we passed into law the bill to create and regulate job opportunities for Akwa Ibom people in corporate organizations in the state. Today, we have passed into law the Akwa Ibom State Violence Against Persons Prohibition Bill 2018.
With 35 motions and more than 120 house resolutions standing to the credit of the current assembly, this house has been steadily making interventions and defending the interest of Akwa Ibom people. We have held public hearings and openly treated petitions to the house by our constituents; we have engaged in rigorous oversight tasks with the view to oiling the wheels of government for optimal performance.
In recognition of security as a defining pillar in the development dynamics of every society, this House during this legislative year played key interventionist role to ensure the safety of lives and property in some crises areas of the state. We are for instance putting plans in place to organise the first ever legislative-security summit by this house to brace up the state’s security architecture. We are already in talks with partner security agencies in this regard.
Staff capacity building has also been a towering priority for the leadership of the 6th assembly. This informed the recent Leadership and Management retreat in Lagos. It is my belief that similar exercise in the future will impact even more positively on the productive capacity of the assembly. From the stand point of representation the house in the last 3years has undertaking various constituencies briefing Empowerment Programme
Let me use this opportunity on behalf of every honourable member to express our collective gratitude to His Excellency, Governor Udom Emmanuel for making the environment conducive enough for the collaboration of executive and legislative powers to the benefit of Akwa Ibom people. I also express my gratitude to the Honourable Justice Godwin Abraham and the judiciary arm for their corporation with this House. Without prejudice to our inalienable role of legislative oversight, this collaboration has made it possible for the exchange of ideas which in turn informs the crafting of legislations to leverage the agenda and vision of the state executive. The cordiality and maturity of the state executive is seen in the speedy execution of the resolutions and legislative directives of this honourable House. This mutual respect of both arms of government has been fundamental to the recorded achievements of this honourable house since 2015.
But while we may have given glamorous account of the assembly these past three years, the ultimate juries are the owners of the mandate we hold. We must therefore continue to push the bounds and raise the bar. The next 11 months will therefore be critical as we must be wary not to rest on our oars.
As we get set for the last remaining year of this 4-year mandate, we must be ready to double our effort. We must be ready to engage in productive partnership with institutions in order to consolidate fully on our 3–year achievements. This relationship will prove even more useful as they will help the next assembly hit the ground running. Also, we must consolidate our efforts in the key mandate area of lawmaking. There is need for the solidification of existing sound policies of government.
We will be giving legislative leverage to provably productive policies of the current administration. This will no doubt improve the functionality of those policies when they are put into full throttle in the second term of the administration. Policies within agriculture, manufacturing, as well as trade and investment subsectors will be considered for sustenance through the instrumentality of the law. Our paramount aim will be to leave a rock-solid foundation for the next assembly to build on for the benefit of our constituents.
We will not relax on our capacity building objective in the assembly. All cadres of staff will benefit from the ongoing training initiative. We are already in talks with partner agencies for the kickoff of the remaining training programmes within the next legislative year. Dear honourable colleagues, I am profoundly grateful to you for standing by me and for standing by the leadership of this assembly to see to it that Akwa Ibom House of Assembly stands out as one of the most performing in the country. I thank the management team of the House led by the Clerk, the legislative staff and the support staff whose toil have been priceless. I am grateful to the media community and to the entire Akwa Ibom people whose support has given meaning to our job in the state legislature.
I continue to solicit your prayers for the leadership of our state, while urging that you do not stop holding us accountable through engaging in constructive criticisms. To build the Akwa Ibom of our dream, we must pray and support our leaders; we must genuinely love our country and our state, praying God to hasten the realization of the Akwa Ibom project which is to build an educated, united, healthy, and prosperous state under one leadership and under one God.
I thank you.
Being a Remarks by the Speaker of the Akwa Ibom state House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. (Barr) Onofiok Luke, at the closing sitting of the 3rd Legislative Year, 6th Assembly of the Akwa Ibom state House of Assembly, today, 17th July, 2018