OGUN ASSEMBLY PROMOTING GOOD GOVERNANCE THROUGH LEGISLATIVE/ EXECUTIVE INTERDEPENDENCE - THE NEW DAWN ONLINE

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Saturday, June 06, 2020

OGUN ASSEMBLY PROMOTING GOOD GOVERNANCE THROUGH LEGISLATIVE/ EXECUTIVE INTERDEPENDENCE


By: Lawal, Jamiu A

Those who designed democratic practice and insisted that it is anchored on a tripod of distinctive but mutually interdependent arms of the Legislature, Executive and Judiciary knew that such collaboration could only result in the delivery of better service to the governed. The fact that such partnership remains constant, in spite of the clearly defined role of each arm in collaboration with one another, aids check and balances of each of the three arms of government in any democratic system.

Thus, an introspective look at the results of such legislative/executive collaboration in the last one year of the current Members of the Ogun State House of Assembly indicated that the Ninth Legislature under the leadership of the Rt. Hon. Speaker, Olakunle Oluomo has passed a total of 17 bills. This is just as the House of Assembly has also passed a total of 21 motions into resolutions which had assisted government in taking an immediate action on certain issues relating to the advancement of socio-economic well-being of the people of the State.
 
Given the successes so far recorded by the current administration in the State, it is evident that all the bills and resolutions so far passed by the lawmakers have immediate and direct positive impacts on the lives of the people of the State, one of such bills was the 2020 Appropriation Bill titled: "a Bill for a Law to Authorize the Issuance and Appropriation of the sum of Four Hundred and Forty Nine Billion, Nine Hundred and Seventy-Three Million, Six Hundered and Ninety Thousand, Two Hundred and Seventy-Five Naira, Seventy-Nine Kobo Only for the Services of Ogun State Government of Nigeria, for the Financial Year ending, Thirty-First Day of December, Two  Thousand and Twenty". 

For the first time in the history of the State Legislature, the Assembly,  in partnership with the executive arm held a retreat, where those responsible for budget preparation and implementation, including budget development experts from the private sector had an interface with the Lawmakers  on the components of the budget and how it would be effectively implemented before the Assembly began the consideration and eventual passage of the 2020 appropriation bill.

Another bill that underwent an immediate passage upon assumption of office by the current administration was a bill titled: "HB No 01/OG/2019: a bill for a law to amend the Moshood Abiola University of Science and Technology, Law 2017", which helped to break the entanglement between MAUSTECH and the then Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, thereby resolving the lock jam created as a result of the creation of MAUSTECH. It sought to revalidate the Moshood Abiola Polytechnic Law, by ensuring the return of smooth academic activities to the institution with all property of the institution hitherto transferred to MAUSTECH now returned to MAPOLY.  The passage became imperative as MAPOLY that was reputed for academic excellence with a record of efficiency and effectiveness running close to achieving self- sustainability was hindered by disruption of academic activities occasioned by the untidy arrangement created by the entanglement of the two institutions in the old bill creating MAUSTECH. This, almost lead to the close of operations by MAPOLY in the course of the logjam, because it no longer had property of its own, until the amendment law was passed by the Oluomo led- House of Assembly and assented to by the State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun.      

In the same vein, the ninth Assembly also passed the State Security Trust Fund (Amendment) Law, 2019 and the State Road Management Agency (Amendment) Law, 2019 by the end of August last year. These two very important and people-centered bills are also critical to the day to day living of the people as issues of security were being addressed headlong through the creation of pool of resources to procure security equipment and other infrastructure. 

On the other hand, the State Road Management Agency (Amendment) Law, 2019 titled: "HB No 03/OG/2019- A Bill to Amend the Ogun State Road Management Law, 2006 and the amendment thereto of 2007", would see to promoting indigenization of professionalism as more professionals in the built sector and from the public service would man the six hubs spread across the State to carry out maintenance of public infrastructure in all parts of the State. This had ensured smooth operations of the newly created State Public Works Agency, thereby  aiding  maintenance of roads and other infrastructure to ease human and vehicular activities thereby attracting investors and boosting investment.

Other bills passed including: " HB. No 005/OG/2019- A Bill for a Law to make Provision for the House of Assembly Legislative Fund Management and other matters connected therewith", " HB. No 020/ OG/ 2019- a Bill for a Law to Establish the Ogun State Investment Promotion and Facilitation Agency and for matters connected therewith". "HB. No. 023/ OG/2019- A Bill for a Law to amend the Magistrates' Court Law, 2016” and “HB. No. 24/ OG/ 2019- A Bill for a Law to amend the Customary Courts Law, 2006" are also required for the promotion of democratic ideals, boosting investment, and enhancing justice dispensation.
In addition, the Magistrates Court (amendment) Law, 2019 and the Customary Courts (amendment) Law, 2019 were also passed to reduce the burden of cases in High Courts and Magistrates Courts, as the amendments to the two bills had helped to create room for the Customary Courts to entertain cases with financial cost up to N500,000 (five hundred thousand naira only). This, the State lawmakers unanimously concluded would fast track justice dispensation through access to justice, especially on cases to be handled by customary courts, which did not require appearance of lawyers.

Others are bills on the establishment of the State Sports Commission and that of the establishment of Sports Trust Fund for the overall development of sporting activities, talent discovery and enhancement of infrastructure to further engage the youth, who are the critical segment of the populace. The need to ensure the encouragement of the private sector in driving infrastructural development in the State also saw to the passage of the bill on Public Private Partnerships, Promote the Development of Infrastructure and Service Delivery. On the other hand, the establishment of the State Security Network Agency and Amotekun Corps, an initiative of the State Governors in the Southwest would assist in complementing the existing security agencies in the maintenance of law and order in the State amongst others. 

It important to add that, bills titled: “H.B. No 014/OG/2019- Ogun State Official Order of Precedence of Public Officers and other persons Law, 2019- A Bill for a law to establish the official order of precedence of officers and other persons in the Public service of Ogun State and other matters connected therewith”; as well as “H.B. No 019/OG/2019- Ogun State Technical and Vocational Education Board (Amendment) Law, 2019 – A Bill for a law to amend the Ogun State Technical and Vocational Education Board and for connected purpose law, 2012”, were also passed recently by the lawmakers. The essence was to give direction to public officials in the State on the need to strictly follow the nationally recognized official order of precedence in all government's official engagements and the need to further strengthen technical and vocational education to aid development of technology in the State.

Similarly, the commitment of the current administration in the State towards improving the housing sector, safeguard health well-being of the people through efficient health insurance for all categories of people including workers, as well as the enforcement of rules and regulations by the relevant authority culminated in the passages of bills on “ H.B. No. 17/OG/2019- The Ogun State Mortgages and Foreclosure Law, 2019- A Bill for a law to establish the Ogun State Mortgages and Foreclosure Authority, to Regulate Mortgage and “H.B. No. 37/OG/2020- Ogun State Health Insurance Scheme (Amendment) Law, 2020- A Bill for a law to Amend the Ogun State Health Insurance Scheme Law, 2019 as well as H.B. No. 39/OG/2020 -Ogun State Regulations Approval Law, 2020- A Bill for a law to prescribe approval of regulation by resolution of the Ogun State House of Assembly and for connected purposes.

Aside those people oriented bills passed, the Assembly equally passed a total of 21 motions into resolutions, urging the State government and relevant security agencies to take urgent steps in addressing some key challenges to ensure the sustenance of peace, security, progress and development of the State. One of the resolutions was passed barely two days after its inauguration, when the House moved swiftly to pass a resolution urging the State Commissioner of Police, Bashir Makama to step up more measures at checkmating the activities of road transport unions as well as curb illegal activities of some unscrupulous elements including land grabbers and cultists in some parts of the State. The House therefore enjoined the police authority to implement the law on  prohibition of “forcible entry and occupation of landed properties, violent and fraudulent conducts in relation to landed properties, armed robbery, kidnapping, cultism and for other matters incidental thereto and connected therewith”.

The lawmakers also went a step further to have a one-day interactive session with the hierarchy of the Nigeria Police including the Commissioner of Police, the Area Commanders, DPOs and other senior officers in the Force, on the need to strengthen security networks in the State.  

Also, the House passed a resolution for the enforcement and compliance to road traffic rules and regulations with a view to curbing overloading, riding against traffic and the need to encourage the use of helmet by motorcycle riders, stoppage of unlawful redesigning of cycle handles by riders amongst others sponsored by a member representing Abeokuta I State Constituency, Hon. Yusuf Adejojo.    

To allow for more gender balancing in governance, the lawmakers also passed another resolution titled: "HR NO. 031/ OG/ 2019- Need for the Adoption of 35% women representation in all political appointments, 10% for youth, as well as special consideration for people with special needs in Ogun State", which was sponsored by Hon. Lateefat Ajayi.

 The Assembly equally passed a resolution titled: "HR No. 029/2019- Approval for Ogun State Anchor Borrowers' Programmes", authorizing the State Government to participate in the N1.5bn CBN credit facility to finance the Anchor Borrowers Programme at a single digit interest rate for land clearing, other logistics requirements and support.

Committed to allowing for a thorough legislative process before the approval of  the N1.5bn Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, the Assembly’s Speaker had earlier invited some stakeholders including the Chief Economic Adviser to the Governor, Dapo Okubadejo, State Accountant General, Idowu Micheal and Permanent Secretary of the State Ministry of Agriculture, Mrs Abosede Ogunleye, the Chairman of the Anchor Borrowers Programme, Prof. Bola Okuneye on the financial capacity of the State to accommodate the new financial facility, the desirability of the programme as well as the operationalization of the scheme upon the approval of the fund. The officials affirmed that the present financial base of the State could accommodate the proposed N1.5 Billion concessionary loan offered by the Central Bank of Nigeria to finance the Anchor Borrowers' Programme aimed at boosting food security, providing job opportunities for the teeming youth and capacity building for participants, particularly farmers.

They stressed that the State Government major responsibility upon accessing the credit facility, was to ensure land clearing and provision of certain infrastructure and capacity building programmes, adding that the State only needed to provide an Irrevocable Standing Payment Order (ISPO) which would serve as guarantee for the financial facility payable within five years, with a clarification that the facility was to be serviced for a moratorium of five years at an average monthly deduction of N25m from the State's allocation from the Federation Account, at a single digit interest rate. 

To further boost employment opportunity for the teeming populace in the State, the Assembly equally passed a resolution titled: “H.R. No. /032/ OG/2020- Need for employment of indigenes of host communities into all categories of human resources in companies and organizations situated in Ogun State”, which was to  compel all companies and corporate organizations situated or operating in Ogun State, to effect Thirty percent (30%) local content in all categories of their staff composition (Junior, Senior and Management) among others from the qualified members of the host communities.  

Other resolutions passed by the Ninth Assembly are those granting approval to the Governor for the appointments of Commissioners, Special Advisers, members of the Board of Corporation and Parastatals as well as the that of the request for the approval to restructure and refinance facilities in the debt stock of the State which were incurred by the last administration in the State.

It is therefore worthy of note that the Governor Abiodun had not only signed the bills into laws, the Governor had commenced their implementations for the benefit of the people.  For instance, the Ogun State Public Works Agency is now in operation, with a General Manager for the agency and immediate work had begun in all parts of the State; while the Governor had also handed over 100 operational vehicles and 200 motorcycles to the police recently to strengthen security networks in the State.

To boost human capacity for quality lawmaking, the Assembly organised different training programmes including an international leadership training in lawmaking, which was first of its kind, for the State lawmakers alongside the members of the management and some senior staff of the Assembly which saw them through different programmes at the British Parliament, Hackney London Borough County both in the United Kingdom and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. 

Also, Speaker Oluomo, within the period under review, ensured massive provision office equipment and infrastructure to aid workers’ productivity. He also fulfilled his promise on the creation of a Mini Mart to allow members of staff buy goods at an affordable price, alongside the provision of Credit Facility Unit at the Assembly Complex, to allow the workers obtain soft loan repayable in ten months installments with zero interest rate.

Consequently, the first year of the State lawmakers was a reflection of hard work and dedication to the promotion of democratic ideals and a show of commitment to the common good of the people through the enactment of people oriented legislations, which had resulted in the passage of enabling legislations for the overall socio-economic advancement of the State.

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