-By Unwana Assam, Eket
I could remember when I was less knowledgeable or let’s say, less concerned about leadership and good governance years back. At that time, the likes of Barr. Bassey Essien, (1999-2002), Rt. Hon. Ignatius Kevin Edet (2007-2011) and subsequently Rt. Hon. Onofiok Luke (2015-2019) who happened to be the last before the incumbent Speaker of the State House of Assembly, were the talks of the town who were exponentially popular for their positive impacts in the state.
Their names made waves everywhere and one could easily testify to the effective representation of the assembly members then due to how independently powerful and active they were.
Then, the duties of members of the state assembly were well spelled out and both the executive, legislature, and judiciary knew their duties, functions, and boundaries as well as how to draw a line. Each functioned independently and according to their ascribed responsibilities without unnecessary interference.
It is quite sad to note that such cannot be said of the present state house of assembly led by Hon. Aniekan Bassey, where the majority of its members have performed below average/expectations.
What triggered this article is that part in the functions of the legislature which clearly states their powers extend to “ratifying treaties, investigating the executive branch, impeaching and removing from office members of the executive and judiciary, and redressing constituents’ grievances”.
Looking at the critical functions of the Members of Parliament, one would agree with this article that, the 7th assembly led by Hon. Aniekan Bassey and deputies by Hon. Felicia Bassey has not done her best.
It beats one’s consciousness that, one of the major tiers of government such as the Akwa Ibom state 7th legislative assembly as clearly recognized in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria could serve as “taa taa or handbag” to the executive without any tangible impacts by its members to their constituents or the state at large.
Contrary to how it used to be where Legislature was the icon of respect and impactful responsibility to the executive and the people but in the current state assembly, it is a shamble or simply put garbage in garbage out. Indeed, there is a need for this set of State Assembly members to wake up from slumber.
For some years now, the members of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly have been on a complaint spree of “there is no money. The executive has not released money to the members of the assembly” hence the low impact of representation by them.
What the people used to see and understand as constituency briefing where the members used to buy some items and present to their constituents is no longer there. One may be tempted to ask; Are there no longer constituency allowances that are usually allotted to the members every year for constituency projects or have the executive also subverted it to enrich its members?
Members of AKHA are complaining that there is no money in the current government and that, the executive is stiff in releasing funds, yet, they are alleged to build mansions and buy expensive cars everywhere in Uyo. Does it mean there is money to service themselves and their families but there is no money to do anything tangible in their constituency except their usual crumbs?
It is worthy to note that, “a good leader is remembered by how many lives he has touched and not by how many properties he has acquired”.
Comrade Unwana Assam is a media practitioner and good governance advocate.