The Civil Liberties Organization (CLO) has said that the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly has not demonstrated enough Independence and has become too weak for an arm of government in a democracy.
The CLO accused the state Legislature of being used by the Executive to merely pass motions and approve loans without monitoring the utilization of such funds.
State chairman of the organization Mr. Franklin Isong told correspondents in Uyo yesterday that the lawmakers lack initiative and have not demonstrated enough capacity in carrying out their oversight functions.
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 said it was a shame that the Legislature could not unravel such claims before it came public.
“From the Accountant General’s report, the 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 the 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.  You only pass motions authorizing the Executive to receive a loan, without monitoring how the loans were utilized. To 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 knocked the Assembly over non-implementations of recommendations by members of the public during the public hearing recalled how observations around the ongoing worship center which he said was not meant to be built with public funds 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.
 “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 the 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”.
But in reaction, the Chairman of the  Assembly Committee on Information, Barr Aniefiok Dennis said the 7th Assembly has not been under any external influence.
“It was the responsibility of the Executive to implement the budget. But, as Legislature, we have, through our various  committees remained committed to the discharge of our oversight function.” Dennis 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 the report of the committee is out.

 


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