By Simeon Nwakaudu
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike inherited a damaged government structure from the immediate past APC administration in the state. Former Rivers State Governor, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi deliberately weakened the Rivers State House of Assembly, polarised it and ensured that a faction sat in the dinning hall of the Government House.
It was so bad that the Rivers State House of Assembly had two speakers and two different sets of House leaders. The principle of separation of powers was relegated and the dictatorship of the former governor was upheld.
One of the priorities of Governor Wike as he took over the leadership of the state was to enthrone the principle of separation of powers to guarantee open, inclusive and accountable governance.
Therefore, Governor Wike in his New Rivers Development Blueprint planned to: “Respect the sanctity and independence of the legislature and the judiciary. We shall not interfere but work harmoniously with the State House of Assembly and the Judiciary to move the State Forward”.
Since assuming the reins of leadership in Rivers State, Governor Wike has developed a functional productive partnership with the State Assembly with the aim of setting the legal framework for the growth of the State.
His first step was to proclaim the House of Assembly and re-open the Assembly Complex closed by the immediate past administration. This step sent the right signal that the House is Independent and ahould function within the ambit of laid down rules.
The governor also implemented the financial independence of the State Assembly, creating the right environment for the House to carry out her legislative oversight functions.
In the last two and half years, the Rivers State House of Assembly has passed 17bills into law for the good governance of the state. These laws cut across different spheres of endeavour. They have strengthened the machinery of governance and placed Rivers State above her peers.
The cordial relationship between the Rivers State Governor and the State House of Assembly built on mutual respect has translated into stable leadership at the State Legislature. This means that State Assembly has remained focused on lawmaking, rather than be pre-occupied the politics of survival.
Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Mr Ikunyi-Owaji Ibani maintains that the Assembly will always put up its best in the interest of the state.
Accordingly, the members of the State House of Assembly will continue to work with the Rivers State Governor to enhance the growth of the State.
He commended the governor for his outstanding achievements, which has been complemented by the State Assembly.
Since May 29, 2015, the Rivers State House of Assembly has passed two Appropriation Laws, 2016 and 2017.
Other prominent laws passed by the Rivers State House of Assembly include: Rivers State Education (Return of Schools) Amendment Number 1 Law, Number 1 of 2017,Rivers State Honours Law Number 2 of 2017, Rivers State Reserve Fund (Repeal) Law Number 3 of 2017, Rivers State University Law Number 4 of 2017 and Rivers State University Teaching Hospital Law Number 5 of 2017.
Others are: Rivers State Kenule Beeson Saro-Wiwa Polytechnic, Bori ( Amendment) Law, 2015, Rivers State Kidnap (Prohibition) Amendment Law, 2015, Rivers State Traditional Rulers Law No.4 of 2015
, The Rivers State Local Government (amendment No.1) Law Number 5 of 2016 and the Rivers State Administration of Criminal Justice No. 7 of 2015.
Majority Leader of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Mr Martin Amaehwule , in an interview stated that the numerous projects of Governor Wike which attracted countless awards can be linked to the quality laws and resolutions of the State Legislature.
He said: “Since the beginning of the 8th Assembly we have come up with several resolutions which definitely impact so well on the running of the state. Of course, the executive arm implements most of what we do. The numerous projects are products of the Appropriation Laws passed by the Rivers State House of Assembly.
“If we don’t play our part, it might be difficult for the executive to come up with the relevant programmes and policies. So you see , we work hand in hand. The executive arm of government that led by Governor Wike is doing so much for Rivers State. It is one thing to come up with laws, but it is another thing to have a governor to implement the law. We have a performing governor who carefully implemented all laws passed by the Rivers State House of Assembly “.
Amaehwule praised the determination for his commitment to leaving worthy footprints on the sands of time in Rivers State.
He said: ” I am proud that in my own time we were able to come up with a law that set up a teaching hospital for the Rivers State University and of course the College of Medical Sciences is also there.
“In 2015, we also had the Rivers State Traditional Rulers law and that law came up with new modalities on how the Traditional Rulers Council can operate. We have the Rivers State Kidnap Prohibition Ammendement law of 2015 passed by this 8th Assembly. ”
The Majority Leader stated that the House of Assembly has passed several resolutions to ensure the good governance of the state. He also stated the screening of the governor’s nominees to different offices has helped to re-position Rivers State.
He said: “We have done screening of officials of government in line with the law and we are making sure that the constitution and the laws of state are followed. There are so many motions and resolutions passed by this House.
“The record of resolutions passed that I have here is 66. I can assure you that the 8th Assembly is committed and we are beginning to meet the expectations of the people of Rivers State.”
In an interview, Member Representing Omuma State Constituency, Rt. Hon Kelechi Nwogu said that the Rivers State House of Assembly passage of the Rivers State Kidnap (Prohibition) Amendment Law, 2015 helped to stabalise the security architecture of Rivers State and reduce the cases of kidnapping.
He said that the partnership that exists between the State Assembly and Governor Wike is such that State Lawmakers accompany the governor on project inspection, which improves their participation in the governance process.
He said: “Even though there is separation of powers, we partner with the State Executive Council ably led by the Rivers State Governor to drive development across the state “.
Through positive political engagement, members of the Rivers State House of Assembly are executing constituency projects in their respective constituencies. The positive multiplier effect of the execution of constituency projects is being felt in remote areas of the state.
For the first time since the existence of the state, the office accommodation challenges facing Assembly support staff have been addressed. The Wike administration has completed and commissioned the Assembly Service Commission Complex.
In addition to this facility, Governor Wike has undertaken to completely rehabilitate the main Assembly Complex.
From the foundation laid, Rivers State will continue to make meaningful progress in the years ahead. The partnership developed by the two arms of Government has been of immense benefit to the state.