*we are committed to our responsibilities- 7th Assembly
By; PATRICK TITUS, Uyo
The Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) in Akwa Ibom has blamed the dwindling fortunes in the state to alleged lack of initiatives by the current State House of Assembly in carrying out its oversight functions.
Mr. Franklin Isong, the State, Chairman of the CLO, during an interaction with newsmen in Uyo on Thursday, alleged that the current House which is the 7th Assembly is too weak for an arm of government in a democracy.
Isong who accused the state Legislature of being tied to the apron-string of the Executive, said the House merely passes motions to approve loans for the Executive without monitoring the utilization of such funds.
Reacting to the recent committee set up by the Assembly to probe the alleged N1.057billion constituency project as indicated in the annual report of the Accountant General of the state, Isong declared it a crying shame that the Legislature could not unravel such claims before it came public.
“From the Accountant General’s report, government claimed to have given the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly the sum of N1.057b for constituency projects. Now we have not seen any of these projects on ground, and the house waited for this to come public before reacting?
“”It means that each of the 26 state constituencies may have smiled to the bank with N40.6m. Now, show us what you have been able to do with the money.
“For me, the 7th Assembly is tied to the apron string of the Executive. They only pass motions authorizing the Executive to receive loan, without monitoring how the loans were utilized. Attend their sittings, you would see that the Assembly is no longer interactive because of the quality of men there”, he said
Isong who further berated the Assembly over non-implementations of recommendations by members of the public during public hearing, recalled how the recommendations and observations were ignored by the Assembly.
Corroborating the CLO’s position, a serving member of the 7th Assembly who craved anonymity said the house has lost its relevance as an arm of government.
His words “The 7th Assembly is now like one of the MDAs of government, it is no longer fit to be considered an arm of government. Look at the people working on budget, they have no clear cut understanding of what they are doing. They go for oversight functions but cannot ask relevant questions. Members no longer have the boldness to query the issues they are not comfortable with, just because they do not want to be starved of funds”.
Reacting to the concerns raised, the Chairman, Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly Committee on Information, Barr Aniefiok Dennis said the 7th Assembly has remained alive to its responsibilities and was not influenced by anyone.
“it was the responsibility of the Executive to implement the budget. But, as Legislature, we have, through our various committees remained committed in the discharge of our oversight function”, he said
On the alleged N1.057b constituency project fund, the lawmaker who assured that a committee has been set up to look into the report, promised to update members of the public as soon as report of the committee is out.