THE LEGISLATIVE BLUEPRINT OF THE 7TH ABIA STATE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY
The 7th Abia State House of Assembly (2019-2023) kicks off against the backdrop of high expectations from Abians on how to improve the process of governance in order to meet their yearnings for good governance. To satisfy these yearnings, the Abia State House of Assembly has evolved this Legislative Blueprint which if diligently implemented will enhance the introduction of legislations and reforms aimed at improving the lives of our people.
This Blueprint draws inspiration from the experiences of the 6th House and seeks to uphold the fundamental role of the Legislature in ensuring the delivery of the dividends of democracy to the people. Hence, the 7th House will assert its role to promote probity, transparency and accountability at all levels of government. More so, as a People oriented Parliament, it will be proactive and responsive to public opinion. It will also enhance citizenship participation in governance and better constituency representation thereby building public confidence and trust. In that regards, necessary legislations to reform and reposition the State economy, tackle unemployment and revenue leakages as well as track-down corruption will be promoted.
- BLUEPRINT ON POLICY THRUST AND MODUS OPERANDI OF THE 7TH HOUSE:
The Policy Thrust and Modus Operandi of the 7th Abia State House of Assembly shall be to:
(i) Build a House with integrity and the capacity to effectively and efficiently deliver on its constitutional and legislative mandate.
(ii) Operate a House of Assembly that responds to citizens demands for greater transparency and accountability
(iii) Develop and implement effective internal and external communication system for the House of Assembly.
(iv) Identify areas of priority legislation for the State.
(v) Promote regular and collaborative engagement with all arms of government especially the Executive in order to enhance effective legislations for Abians.
(vi) Give priority to legislative relationship and collaboration with constituents, civic groups, professional bodies, International Development Partners and various stake holders.
(vii) Promote the efficiency and effectiveness of the Local Government System.
- BLUEPRINT ON INTERNAL OPERATIONS AND PROCESSES OF THE HOUSE:
The 7th House of Assembly of Abia State will work to improve its internal operations and processes with the aim of enhancing legislative business.
(a) Committees of the House:
It is a common knowledge that the House Committees constitute the engine rooms of legislative business. Hence, they shall be strengthened and re-engineered to promote efficiency, effectiveness and quality service delivery.
- The 7th House shall be committed to proper funding, improved staffing and more efficient running of the Committees. The appointment of the leadership and membership of the Committees reflect experience, professionalism and capacity of Members. There shall be strict adherence to time limits for delivery of Reports referred to Committees. Where necessary, a Committee that fails to deliver its Report on time would be divested of jurisdiction on the matter.
The House shall be committed to implementing the use of templates and standardized formats for Committee activities in Reporting, Oversight activities, Minutes of meeting, Public Hearing and Quarterly/Annual Reports. The House shall ensure regular supervision of Committee activities in order to achieve optimum performance. More so, the leadership shall conduct regular meetings with Chairmen of Committees to review performance and ensure that legislative activities of the Committees are consistent with the Legislative Blueprint of the House.
(b) Capacity Building of Members and Staff:
To promote efficiency and better service delivery, the House shall, given the circumstances of her funding ensure regular training and retraining of Members and Staff for increased capacity building. Retreats and Seminars for Members and Staff would also be encouraged and given utmost priority to enhance efficiency.
(c) Oversight and Investigative Hearing:
The oversight and investigative powers of the House leverages on Sections 128 and 129 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended). The essence of oversight and investigative hearing is to ensure that government programmes and policies including Laws passed by the House are implemented as well as to expose corruption, inefficiency and waste in the conduct of government business.
The 7th House has the necessary political will and capacity to undertake vigorous oversight as this will promote accountability and probity. Proactive steps of monitoring and evaluation of projects shall be employed with the involvement of NGOs, COSs and the media. The House in carrying out its Oversight and Investigative Hearing activities, shall ensure that its powers are not misused or abused by either Members or Committees. On the other hand, the House shall sanction those who refuse to cooperate with its oversight activities and/or implement legislative Resolutions.
(d) Robust Code of Conduct for Members:
The House shall be committed to maintaining the highest ethical standards in the discharge of her constitutional mandate and ensure zero-tolerance for corruption or misuse and abuse of legislative powers. To this end, utmost care was exercised in choosing the leadership and membership of the Ethics and Privileges Committee to reflect Members adjudged to have ethical standards.
- BLUEPRINT ON ASSEMBLY COMMUNICATIONS AND RELATIONS:
The 7th House is committed to improving its internal and external communications and relations. It should be noted that improved communications and relations with the Executive and the public will change the negative perception of the public with respect to workings of the Legislature and enhance co-operation with the Executive, thereby strengthening the nascent democracy and democratic structures.
(a) Internal House Communications and Relations:
With the understanding that effective communication is the springboard to progress and success, the House will enhance information dissemination and synergy among Members.
Also, relationship and communication between Members and Staff, especially the Legislative and Committee Staff will be of utmost priority for improved efficiency, productivity and service delivery. Moreso, the House shall establish and equip an Information Centre and a standard Assembly Library where vital information and documents will be made available.
(b) Interfacing with the Executive:
- The House shall strive to maintain a healthy and robust relationship with the Executive even as it recognizes and protects its autonomy. Consequently the House will be in constant liaison with the Office of the Special Adviser to the Governor on Assembly Matters to harmonize and foster synergy between the two Arms of Government in order to reduce friction and enhance efficient and effective legislative service delivery.
(c) Interfacing with the Public:
The 7th House shall develop and improve the platform for the sensitization of the public as well as ensure that the Assembly policy thrust and proceedings are made readily available for public scrutiny and consumption.
In the light of the above, the House would collaborate with the media, both print and electronic to embark on advocacy and awareness programmes on important decisions of the House. The technique of media briefing, public hearing and town hall meeting shall be explored. Moreso, the public, individuals and organizations shall be allowed the privilege of the gallery of the Hallowed Chambers to observe the House in Plenary.
(d) Interfacing with the National and States Assembly:
The 7th House shall of a necessity synergize with the National Assembly through our Senators and Representatives on issues of national importance as it affects our dear State. Our communication machinery with the National Assembly shall be strengthened to achieve effective implementation of the Financial Autonomy for States Assembly and other constitutional amendment matters. The House will also collaborate with the National and States Assembly in the area of capacity building and continuing legislative studies and workshops for Members and Staff.
(e) Interfacing with Federal MDAs in the State:
Our dear State is one of the federating units of the Nation. As it is a common parlance “no one is an island”. Consequently, our Assembly shall network with the Federal MDAs in the State with a view to identifying what is due to Abia and ensure that the same are pursued vigorously and brought to the benefits of the citizenry using the appropriate State machinery.
BLUEPRINT ON THE STATE BUDGETARY PROCESS:
The House shall introduce and adopt measures aimed at supporting, improving and implementing a proper budgetary process that engenders a strong and robust economy. Greater emphasis will be laid on the following:
(a) Collaborating with the Executive to institute an all inclusive budgetary process.
(b) Cooperating with the Executive for the adoption and implementation of an effective Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF).
(c) Interfacing with the Executive on the implementation of already assented Fiscal
Responsibility and Public Procurement Laws.
(d) Ensuring that budgetary expenditure is in tandem with the Approved Budget.
(e) Ensuring the implementation of capital projects and the effective monitoring and evaluation of expenditure and achievements.
(g) Constant nudging of the Executive to submit the Budget Estimates timeously to enable the House scrutinize it in the most desirable fashion and to pass same expeditiously.
- BLUEPRINT ON STATE ECONOMY AND DEVELOPMENT
- The House shall synergize with the Executive to institute an economic roadmap for the State and provide the necessary legal framework for the implementation of same when developed. It shall
also adopt legislative approaches aimed at promoting rapid economic growth and development. Priority attention will be given to the following:-
(a) Non-remittance of Internally Generated Revenue and Leakages:
The House intends to review holistically the enabling Laws on revenue generating MDAs with a view to evolving relevant amendments aimed at blocking loopholes that lead to revenue leakages. The House shall ensure that monies generated by MDAs are remitted timely and to appropriate government coffers. Expenditures must also follow due process of appropriation. Moreso, the use of revenue agents for the collection of non-flying revenue will be discouraged in order to eliminate corruption.
(b) Legislative Blueprint on the Application of Donor Funds:
The 7th House shall endeavour to map out strategies to ensure efficient application of funds and monies given by Donors to MDAs for development projects. The House frowns at the practice of duplication of funding from both government and Donor Agencies for the execution of same projects.
Therefore, to ensure transparency and accountability in the use of such monies, the 7th House shall beam its searchlight on the application of Donor Funds, grants and loans obtained by the State. This mechanism leads to the inclusion of Donor Funds in the appropriation process.
(c) Legislative Blueprint on Infrastructural Development:
The 7th House shall evolve Laws aimed at rapid infrastructural development of our dear State. Necessary legal framework shall be provided for the building and rebuilding of urban roads and drainages, public transportation, housing, public utilities(such as pipe-borne water) and general infrastructure. The House will support and encourage the continuous expansion of already existing cities in the State as well as the transformation of rural dwellings into semi-urban areas equipped with modern infrastructure in conformity with 21st century standards.
(d) Legislative Blueprint on Employment and Job Creation:
There is no gainsaying the fact that government alone cannot absorb the teeming army of unemployed in our State. To address this tough challenge, the House will hold regular sessions with critical stakeholders and the private sector to articulate appropriate legislative interventions to tackle the menace of unemployment in our dear State. To this end, the 7th House will promulgate Laws aimed at creating the enabling environment for private businesses to thrive and flourish.
(e) Legislative Blueprint on Security:
Measures aimed at securing the lives and property of Abians shall occupy the front burner of legislative activities of the 7th House. The House will give legislative backing by way of appropriation provision of such funds meant for the procurement and use of ICT and relevant technology in tackling crime and criminality in the State. Efforts will be intensified by the House to ensure that terrorism, insurgency, kidnapping and other violent crimes do not occur or thrive in our State. The operational content of Abia State Vigilante Service shall be looked into by the House with a view to strengthening their capacity in line with extant Laws.
(f) Legislative Blueprint on Economic Diversification:
4 Special measures to promote the diversification of the economic base of the State will be accorded priority attention. The House shall discourage over-dependence on Federal Allocation to fund government programmes and projects by initiating and supporting legislations aimed at diversifying our economy and boosting our Internally Generated Revenue.
Enabling legal framework and legislations will be perfected to create the desired conducive environment for Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to flourish in the State. It is expected also that businesses will take advantage of potentials inherent in economies of scale and comparative advantage to maximize their profits.
The House shall support commercial agricultural transformation programme of the government in an effort at making it attractive to the youths and active members of our State, in other to generate wealth and employment.
(g) Legislative Blueprint on the Capital City & Aba:
The need for facelift for Umuahia as the Capital City and the seat of government is quite obvious. To this end, the House shall provide necessary legislative framework to upgrade the capital city and ensure the relocation of the “Isi Gate Market” as well as the implementation of the Illegal Market and Street Trading (Prohibition) Law.
Also, the potentials of Aba as the commercial nerve center of the State cannot be over emphasized. The House shall support the creation of a special status for the city in terms of structures of government and funding.
Furthermore, the House shall provide legislative interventions that will make for a better management of waste in order to provide for a cleaner environment and improve the aesthetics of Umuahia, Aba and other major upcoming cities in the State.
- BLUEPRINT ON AREAS OF PRIORITY LEGISLATION
(a) Legislative Priorities of the House:
The 7th House will accord priority legislative attention to some critical areas geared towards better living condition of Abians. Our focus will be on poverty reduction, hunger eradication, job creation and improved life expectancy. Critical sectors such as health, education, agriculture, women and youth empowerment, tourism and general infrastructural development will be given a boost.
(b) Sectoral Debates:
The 7th House shall introduce debates and special Plenary Sessions which will center on diverse aspects of the State’s economy as part of its initiative to address public matters. It is expected that these debates will generate ideas that will lead to the promulgation of new Laws and amendment of extant Laws to address such specific problems as may be identified.
(c) Review of Abia State Laws:
The House intends to vigorously update, publish and make accessible to the citizenry Laws enacted by the State House of Assembly. This line of action is necessitated by the obvious fact that Abia Laws were last published into volumes in year 2005.
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The 7th House in the pursuit of its Legislative mandate shall allow its activities from 2019-2023, to be guided by this Legislative Blueprint. The House will partner and collaborate with other Arms of Government, Civil Society Organizations, Development Partners, professional bodies and the general public to ensure the efficient and effective implementation of this Blueprint. It is expected that when the Blueprint is adopted by the House as a working document, a copy shall be transmitted to the Governor.