It is Wednesday October 30th, 2019.
Welcome to a new Legislative Day at the Abia State House of Assembly.
The Sergeant-At-Arms ushered the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Chinedum Enyinnaya Orji, the Deputy Speaker, Rt Hon Ifeanyi Uchendu and other Principal Officers into the hallowed chamber of the Abia State House of Assembly.
The Member representing Umuahia East State Constituency, Hon. Chukwudi Apugo, prayed before the commencement of the House sitting at exactly 12:08pm.
OBSERVATIONS AND DOPTION OF VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS OF MONDAY, 28TH OCTOBER, 2019.
The Speaker asked the House members to check Votes and Proceedings of Monday, 28th October, 2019.
“Distinguished Colleagues, you are welcome to today’s plenary session this Monday, 29th Day of October, 2019. Before we proceed, as it is customarily, may we go through the Votes and Proceedings of Monday 28th and Tuesday 29th October,2019.
In the absence of any correction, Majority Leader of the House, Hon Solomon Akpulonu, moved a motion that the House adopts the Votes and Proceedings of Monday 28th and Tuesday, the 29th day of October, 2019, as correct and as a working document of the House; the Minority Leader, Hon. Sir Abraham Oba, seconded the Motion with the Lawmakers responding in the affirmative when the Motion was put up for vote by the Speaker.
The Votes and Proceedings of Monday the 28th and Tuesday, 29th of October, 2019, was subsequently adopted as a Working Document of the Abia State House of Assembly.
The Speaker thereafter announced the presence of past Honourable Members of the House as follows:
Hon. Obioma Ekpem, Hon Barr. Remigius Njii and Rt Hon Emeka Stanley.
MATTERS OF URGENT PUBLIC IMPORTANCE, PERSONAL EXPLANATION.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Clerk of the Abia State House of Assembly, Sir John Pedro Irokansi, read the Orders of the Day as follows:
(1) The Abia State Teaching Hospital Management Board Bill 2019. Sponsored by Hon. Chukwu Chijioke,the Lawmaker Representing Bende North State Constituency and Others.
The Leader of the House Hon.Solomon Akpulonu moved that the House do allow the Sponsor of the Bill to lead the Debate,it was Seconded by the Minority Leader with the House Members Responding in the Affirmative when the Speaker put the Motion to Vote.
Hon Chukwu Chijioke in leading the debate reminded the House that “Health is Wealth”.
“If you want to know a wealthy nation, check the Quality of their heath service.
“A centre that is supposed to provide for health services is operating without a properly constituted Management Board”, he said.
The Lawmaker recalled that the Ad Hoc Committee that investigated the School was not given any fact because of the absence of the School Management Board.
“Abia State University Teaching Hospital happens to be one of the Institution this House investigated, there is need to strengthen our institutions.
“If a Board is properly constituted and backed by Law, there is a procedure before anyone can be terminated from his Job, for example.
“While we were investigating the institution, one of the things we observed was a flagrant disobedience to the Public Procurement Act”.
The Lawmaker enumerated many other Benefits of the Bill if passed into Law.
The Speaker thanked the Member representing Bende North on the presentation of the Bill.
Leader of the House, Hon Solomon Akpulonu, in his Contribution said he was worried about the Bill as being sponsored by the Lawmaker for Bende North State Constituency.
“I don’t know if he made proper checks before presenting the Bill”, he said.
The Lawmaker representing Umunnochi, Hon Okey Igwe, asked to know how appointments can be made as proposed in the Bill.
Member representing Ikwuano State Constituency, Hon Stanley Nwabuisi, said as a co-sponsor of the Bill, that the Board will be in charge of corporate governance of the Abia State University Teaching Hospital.
Member representing Ugwunagbo state Constituency said he is supporting Hon Solomon Akpulonu over his views on the Law that established Abia State University which the institutions that the bill is talking about is part of.
“I am supporting the Leader to say let us step it down and make our findings. Going through the Bill, it may that something is somewhere and we try to take it somewhere else.
The Speaker said he may not step down a Bill being presented on the Floor of the House.
“It will not do the State amy good for us to step down the Bill”, he said.
Member representing Obingwa West State Constituency said he was supporting the Bill.
He drew the attention of the House to Section 32 of the Bill which postulated that in the commencement of the Bill, all other edicts will be repealed by the Bill if passed into Law.
The Speaker thanked the Lawmaker for that aspect of his contribution and posited that he is not a Lawyer.
“Whatever that has been existing now between ABSUTH and ABSU must be what they call an Edict”, he said.
“Based on what the Member for Obigwa West said, I believe it has taken care of the concerns by the Leader and Member for Ugwunagbo”.
On his part, Member representing Arochukwu State Constituency said:
“I believe that after the establishment of the institution, it is painful that there is no Management Board for it. As a co-sponsor of the Bill, we found out that there is no Board that is directing the affairs of the Institution.
“I have received numerous calls that people cannot even be assigned to do internship in the institution, a situation which is very bad.
“On that note, Mr Speaker, I support the Bill with all my heart”, he concluded.
Member representing Umuahia State Constituency in his Support for the Bill said there was a lacuna which the Bill intends to cover.
“If the Edict that guides ABSU also Guides ABSUTH, why will lecturers in The Abia State University be paid and Lecturers in ABSUTH are not?”
He called on other Lawmakers to support the Bill to scale through the Second Reading.
Speaker of the House said because of the importance of the Bill, the House will do two things:
“While we commit this Bill to the Committee of the Whole for Consideration, it is also my intention that we refer this bill to the joint committee on Education and Health”.
He therefore called on the Committees to report back to the House on the next Legislative Day.
Next Item on the Order Paper
(2) HAB 5 The Abia State Donor Agencies Trust Fund Bill 2019. Sponsor: Hon Barr Jerry Uzosike et al.(A Bill for a Law to Establish Donor Agencies Trust Fund in Abia State and for other Matters Connected therewith.
Second Reading, First Allotted Time.
The Leader moved that the House allow the Sponsor of the Bill to present it. The Minority Leader seconded the Motion with the House responding in the affirmative when the Speaker put the Motion up for Vote.
In leading the Debate, the Lawmaker representing Umuahia South State Constituency, Hon.Barr.Jerry Uzosike, recalled that before the administration of Chief Theodore Orji, Abia State was not enjoying the Donor Agencies Fund.
“This Bill, Mr Speaker is trying to say Let’s have this Fund ready so that it won’t be that we are running helter-skelter looking for money for Counterpart Funds.
“Because of our time, Mr Speaker, this is a beautiful Bill. It is a Win-Win Bill, the Governor does not need to entertain any reservations about it”.
The Speaker thanked the Lawmaker for the presentation of the Bill.
The Deputy Speaker in his contribution to the Bill Appreciated the author of the Bill.
“I want to also align myself with him that this Bill is a beautiful Bill, so Mr Speaker I rise to support it” he said.
The Majority Leader of the House Hon Solomon Akpulonu said the benefits of the Bill are enormous.
“Mr Speaker, I want to first of all commend the Governor, he has been paying all Counterpart Funds, I don’t think we are owing. Mr Speaker, I rise to support the Bill” he said.
Lawmaker representing Ugwunagbo State Constituency, Hon Munachim Alozie, called on the House to fast track the passage of the Bill.
Member representing Isuikwuato State Constituency, Hon Emeka Okoroafor, said he anchored the Bill on Goal 17 of the MDGS that talk about partnership.
“Like the Leader of the House has indicated, we are wondering how sustainable is the 10% of the State fund that will go into that Account.
“So I support The Bill”, he said.
The Lawmaker representing Umunneochi State Constituency, Hon Okey Igwe lent his full support to the Bill.
Member representing the people of Isialangwa North State Constituency, Hon Ginger Onwsuibe, said in his support that the Bill seeks to reserve fund for eventualities.
“The major aim the Bill seeks to achieve is for a reservoir if passed into Law”.
“I also want to urge our Colleagues to lend their Support to the Bill”, he said.
The Lawmaker representing Arochukwu State Constituency, Hon Mike Ukoha, in his support to the Bill thanked the Governor for providing counterpart funding to the project.
“Mr Speaker, if you look at all over the State, you can see that flood is all over the State and we have Donor Agencies who are willing to come in to assist.
“The advantage is that no matter who is at the head of affairs, the funds are there and it will continue “.
The Speaker in his comments said the House will work on the Bill and send it to the Governor for assent.
“Having listened to Honourable Colleagues, I do not think there is any other thing to do than commit this Bill to the Committee of the Whole”, he said.
“This Bill is hereby committed to the Committed of the Whole”, he said.
NEXT ITEM ON THE ORDER PAPER
(3) Special Plenary Session with National Assembly (NASS) Members of Abia Origin on Issues of Mutual Benefits.
Leader of the House moved a Motion that Senior Colleagues from the National Assembly be ushered into the Chamber of the Abia State House of Assembly; the Minority Leader seconded the Motion while the House responded in the affirmative when the Motion was put up for vote.
The Sergeant-At-Arms ushered in the following National Assembly Lawmakers into the Chamber:
(1) Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe – Minority Leader of the Senate, and
(2) Chief Mrs Nkeriuka Onyejeocha- The Deputy Whip of the House of Representatives
“Distinguished Colleagues, before us are very Distinguished Abians, ranking Legislators, the Minority Leader of the Senate, Distinguished Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, and Hon Nkeiruka Onyejeocha.
“The intention of a special Plenary Session in their honour is very clear: it is for us to give honour for the positions you occupy at the National Assembly”, the Speaker said.
The Speaker of the House, Rt.Hon Chinedum Enyinnaya Orji, thereafter went ahead to read his welcome address.
In his address, the Speaker urged the Members of the National Assembly to put Abia first in order to ensure that Abia benefits from the position they occupy at the National Assembly.
“We want to thank Members of the National Assembly in their doggedness in urging the Federal Government to turn Abia State Polytechnic to a Federal Polytechnic irrespective of party divide.
“I also want to use this opportunity to thank my Colleagues who also brought the idea for us to synergize with Members of the National Assembly from Abia State”, he said.
The Speaker extended his appreciation to the Governor of Abia State for maintaining a mutual relationship with Members of the National Assembly.
“This Special Plenary is in tandem with the Blue Print of the 7th Abia State House of Assembly which seeks to synergize with Members of the National Assembly of Abia origin”, he emphasized.
He also called on the federal Lawmakers to help ensure that the federal government pay urgent attention to the following federal roads and others like them in the State:
(1) Aba – Ikot Ekpene Road
(2) Owerri – Aba Road
(3) Umuahia – Ikot Ekpene Road
(4) Umuahia – Bende and Arochukwu Road.
The Speaker also called for the presence of a Conventional Federal University and upgrade of the Secretariat.
“We want the University at Umudike to be made a conventional Federal University so that it can offer more courses and our people can have greater access to higher learning.
“We also want it that henceforth only good news will be coming out from Abia State; we do not want our state to be synonymous with negative news”, he said.
In conclusion, the Speaker said if the Michael Okpara University is made a conventional university, it will help to get the Federal Medical Center, Umuahia to be converted to a Teaching Hospital.
While thanking them for their efforts and achievements so far, the Speaker called on all Members of the National Assembly to continue to maintain a mutual working relationship with one another irrespective of party affiliation.
“Once again Sir and Madam, this 7th Assembly want to thank you and your other Colleagues at the National Assembly” the Speaker Said.
The Deputy Whip of the House of Representatives, Hon Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, in her speech thanked the Speaker for extending the invitation to them irrespective of party affiliations.
“I want to appreciate you for this opportunity and also congratulate you on your emergence as Speaker of the Abia State House of Assembly.
“I want to say that on behalf of the Members of the House of Representatives from Abia that we are loyal people and have Abia first in our heart”, she said.
She promised the Speaker that Members of the House of Representatives from the state will ensure the attraction of projects to Abia.
Continuing, she said, “I also know that we have infrastructure issues in Abia State; we have a Leader who also knows what to do. I will be able to work with him to make sure that all places you have mentioned are handled”.
The Lawmaker also announced that there is already a process on the issue of a Federal University in Abia State.
“Even as APC members, we are not going to antagonise the Government of Abia State, and even when we are criticize as the need arises,we will do that constructively” she said.
“I pledge that as your daughter (of the State), I will not let you down”, she concluded.
The Speaker then invited the Minority leader of the Senate, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, to address the Abia State House of Assembly.
In his Speech, the Minority Leader appreciated the Speaker and Members of the 7th Abia State House of Assembly and recalled that although the Abia State House of Assembly has many firsts among other Assemblies in Nigeria part of which was the attempt to impeach a Deputy Governor which happened to be him.
By that attempt, the Senator said the Abia State House of Assembly has helped the country on the judicial interpretation of the Powers of the House of Assembly since the attempted impeachment was tested in court unlike what is happening in Kogi State where the House Impeached the Deputy Governor even when the Panel found him not to be guilty.
He called on the Speaker to be guided by Section 121,122 and 128 of the 1999 Constitution. He also promised to work with his Colleagues at the national level on the requests made by the Speaker even though efforts are already on in that regard.
In his response, the Speaker, Rt.Hon Chinedum Enyinnaya Orji, appreciated the Senate Minority Leader and said that history has placed the Lawmakers in vantage positions to bring development to Abia.
“For us here, we are not engaged in destructive criticism. We didn’t come here to witch-hunt anybody. We are here to perform our legislative and oversight functions as spelt out by the Law”, the Speaker said.
He then thanked them for honouring the invitation of the Abia State House of Assembly.
NEXT ITEM ON THE ORDER PAPER
The Majority Leader of the House of Assembly, Hon. Solomon Akpulonu, moved the Motion that the House adjourn Plenary to reconvene on Monday, 4th November, 2019. The Minority Leader, Hon Abraham Oba, seconded the Motion and the House responded in the affirmative when the Speaker put the Motion up for Vote.
Plenary of the Abia State House of Assembly was subsequently adjourned at exactly 2:23pm to Monday, 4th November, 2019.
(N/B: We Sincerely Apologize for bringing the Report this Morning instead of Yesterday, it was all in a bid to ensure there was no mistake due to the activities of Yesterday)
Courtesy: Media Unit, Office of the Rt.Honourable Speaker, Abia State House of Assembly.