Emmanuel Ugwu in Umuahia
The sixth Abia State House of Assembly has in the past one year of its life passed into law 10 bills out of the 16 that were considered within the period under review, while the remaining six were still at “various advanced stages” of legislative process.
Deputy Speaker of the House, Hon. Cosmos Ndukwe, who is also chairman of House committee on information, media and publicity, made this known while presenting the score card of the legislature in the last one year at the monthly press briefing on the activities of the House.
He said most of the bills passed into law were targeted at improvement of the economy and security of the state, citing the Abia State Security Fund Law (Amendment) which seeks to provide a framework for improved security across the state.
“The importance of this bill meant that we didn’t record one dissenting voice as the debate concerning it raged in the house,” the House spokesperson said, adding that the essence of such law was crystal clear considering that “our country is experiencing the most agonising threat to security of lives and property”.
The Deputy Speaker took time to debunk the insinuations that the lawmakers were interested in “money bills only”, saying that those criticizing the House had lost sight of the fact that bills created to improve the economy of the state impact positively on the welfare of the people.
According to him, the Abia State Board of Internal Revenue Law (Amendment) was in response to public outcry regarding the burden of double taxation, which the organised private sector as well as traders had been complaining about over the years.
“While the bill sought to establish more integrated tax system, it had the people in mind when it also closed some tax windows considered to have appeared more than once. It’s more of the people’s bill than government’s bill,” he said.
The chairman of the House committee on information, media and publicity assured that the Abia legislature would continue to be responsive on issues pertaining to the welfare of the people as the lawmakers are not oblivious of the present economic hardships in the land.
On the loss of homogeneity in the composition of the House after the 2015 general election which saw the opposition registering a strong presence in the legislature, Ndukwe said it was a positive development as the progress made so far was as a result of hearing “the other side”. Presently the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) has 15 lawmakers while the opposition All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) snatched nine seats in the 24-member legislature.
He pointed out that in performing their legislative duties the 24 lawmakers see themselves first as Abians and not just partisan politicians hence “we are held together by a common interest which cardinal objective is to develop Abia and Abians in all spheres of human life”.
“We have it at the back of our mind that rancor, mutual distrust, fanning the embers of disunity and legislative rascality can only be counterproductive. We are working harmoniously as one happy family,” the Deputy Speaker said.