The emergence of the 6th House of Assembly in Abia was a big surprise to political observers and players in the state because for once, there was a near balancing in the equation of members of the ruling party and opposition.
It is not like the 5th House in which everyone was a member of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and a lot of members were unhappy because of the way things were going then. The activities of the leadership led to members protesting against during elections. This made them to cast protest votes that nearly brought the opposition into power in the state.
Today, the opposition has nine members in the Assembly, while the ruling party has 15, which is better than what obtained at the 5th House where it was PDP all the way.
In the past, particularly during the 8th year tenure of the immediate past Governor Theodore Orji, the Assembly could be described as yesmen gathering, from which only the wishes of the Governor held supreme.
The reason is that all the members belong to the same ruling party and there was nobody that was saying no to anything that runs contrary to the wishes of the people. If they were drifting into negativity, and as long as that negativity satisfied the yearnings of the authorities in power, they had no choice but to endorse it. It was believed that even when what they stood against turns out against them, they could but only swallow it hook , line and sinker. A House of Assembly member during the 5th Abia House, who ran for the House of Assembly election on the platform of the PDP and won to represent the people of Ikwuano state constituency, Prince Chukwueneka Osoagbaka , who recently shared his experience in the House alleged that his party, the PDP, is engrossed in impunity.
“When we got into the House, it was completely a different experience from business, because I am not a lawyer and I am not used to how to be making laws.
“We spent the first one year learning, but we were lucky to have about five members who were on their third term and another seven or eight members who were in their second term, so we queued to learn from them. They all encouraged us and we learnt fast and tried to serve our people to the best of our knowledge and it was an interesting experience. “Some people think that the problem of PDP in the state started today, but it didn’t. We had a party in the state that displayed one of the highest levels of nonchalance to the desires of the followers in the history of PDP in the state.
“It is a party where a few people will come out and decide that it has to serve their interest and not the interest of the people. But the current Abia State House of Assembly is not so because of the nature of its constitution”, he said.
At least there are members of other parties, which make the Assembly, what it is supposed to be in word and practice. It is possible that members can be influenced when it comes to issues of party and individual interests, Abians have for once in a very long time expressed satisfaction with the membership formation.
The ruling party in Abia State is PDP, while the opposition party is the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA.
While the ruling party can boast of majority number of membership, the opposition on its own part produced membership that can stand against or in support of any issue
Inaugurated on June 11, 2015, by the state Governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, with Rt. Hon. Martins Azubuike as the Speaker, the 6th House is carrying out its constitutional mandate, which is to make laws that will make life easy for the people of Abia.
After its inauguration, the House adopted a legislative road map which provided guidelines on the areas of concentration, especially, critical sectors of the state economy, and constituted various committees that would see to prompt and efficient oversight functions.
There are a total of 24 members in the House, with the ruling party, PDP, having 15 while the opposing party, APGA, having nine members.
Despite party differences in the House, observers believe that there is a cordial relationship between the groups, which have seen their parties as vehicles that took them to the floor of the House.
Some also believe that the members relate well with the state Governor, by seeing him as the leader of the state in spite of all party differences.
Azubuike, the Speaker, who has been severally described as a very humble and intelligent law maker is a high ranking member of the House due to the fact that he is in his third term in the House.
He is believed to have headed so many committees during his first and second tenures, and has brought his experience and expertise to the fore to enable the House perform well.
As the Deputy Chairman of Conference of Speakers of State Houses of Assembly, Azubuike enjoys the goodwill and cooperation of his colleagues in the House across party affiliations. As a result of the cooperation that exists between members of the House, the Abia State House of Assembly neither knows any jew or gentile, but ensures that they dish out good laws that will benefit the people. In its operations, the House sits from Monday through Wednesday and set aside Thursday and Friday for committee functions. Within the period under review, the House has legislated on 17 bills, out of which 11 have been passed into law and six at various stages of legislation.
The House has also entertained six motions and passed over 20 resolutions on topical state and national issues. The bills they have passed include the Abia State Public Private Partnership Investment Promotion Office Law, the State Marketing Agency Law, and the state Board of Internal Revenue Law (amendment).
Others are the Abia State Security Fund Law, (Amendment No.1), State supplementary Appropriation Bill 2015, Abia State Archives and Records Administration Bill 2015, the Abia State Sand Excavation and Quarry Sites Inspection, Registration, Loading and Maintenance Bill, 2015.
There are still the Abia State Basic Environmental law, 2004 (amendment No. 2 ) bill 2015, the Abia State Abattoir Establishment and Regulation bill 2015, the Abia State Structures for Signage and Advertisement Agency bill, 2016. The House did not waste time in passing into law the Abia State 2016 Appropriation bill for effective and responsive governance.
Some of the resolutions it adopted include motion on the need to convert Michael Okpara University to conventional university, motion on the need for tertiary and other institutions of learning in the state to reflect students genotype on students identity cards.
It also adopted a motion on the appraisal of the Bank of Industry and the need for it to relocate to Abia State. They have also passed motions on the need to have a federal secretariat complex in the state, and on an investigation on the administration of pensions in the state public service system with a view to proffering solutions among others.