It is Tuesday, 12th of November, 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 Umunneochi State Constituency, Hon. Barr. Okey Igwe, prayed before the commencement of the House Plenary.
Observations and Adoption of VOTES and PROCEEDINGS of Wednesday 30th of October, 2019.
The Speaker asked the House members to check Votes and Proceedings of Wednesday, 30th of October, 2019.
“Distinguished Colleagues, you are welcome to today’s Plenary Session this Tuesday, 5th Day of October, 2019. Before we proceed, as usual, may we go through the Votes and Proceedings of Wednesday, 30th of October, 2019?
In the absence of any correction, the Majority Leader of the House, Hon.Solomon Akpulonu, moved a motion that the House adopts the Proceedings of Wednesday, the 30th Day of October, 2019, as correct and as a working document of the House. The Deputy Minority Leader, Hon. Chukwu Chijioke, seconded the Motion while the Lawmakers responded in the affirmative when the Motion was put up for vote by the Speaker, Rt Hon Chinedum Enyinnaya Orji.
The Votes and Proceedings of Wednesday, 30th of October, 2019, was subsequently adopted.
The Chairman of the Abia State House of Assembly Committee on Public Petitions, Hon. Barr. Emeka Okoroafor, brought a Petition by:
(1) Ogwahia Development Union (Nneji Autonomous Community) in collaboration with Concerned Citizens of Ogwahia Community on
ADDRESSING SETRACO and many Injustices and inhumane acts against Ogwahia Community (Nneji Autonomous Community).
Another Petition from Ubaha Community in Isialangwa North Local Government Area of the State titled SAVE OUR SOUL over the invasion of their farmlands by some suspected herdsmen.
He hinted that the Community is worried over the settlement of herders in their Area.
The Petitioners urged the House to use their Legislative Powers to stop the menace.
After Presentation of the Petitions, the Chairman of the House Committee on Public Petitions laid it on the Table.
The Speaker, Rt Hon Chinedum Enyinnaya Orji, committed the First Petition on Setraco with two weeks mandate to report back to the House, while the second one was committed to the House committee on Agriculture.
MATTER OF URGENT PUBLIC IMPORTANCE.
The Member representing Umunneochi State Constituency, Hon Okey Igwe, brought a Matter of Urgent Public Importance over the deplorable state of roads in his Umunneochi State Constituency specifically Mbala Road.
“As we Speak now, Mr Speaker, that road has broken down completely.
“Mr Speaker, that road also leads to the field where we usually hold our rallies, and if I am to invite the Governor or Mr Speaker to a rally in Umunneochi, there may be no means of arriving the venue”, he said.
That the House of Assembly pass a resolution compelling the State Ministry of Works to mobilize to the site immediately.
And that if the Ministry of Works fails to mobilize to the site this week, that they be invited to the House to tell us why the directives of the Governor is not being carried out.
The Lawmaker therefore urged his follow members to contribute positively to the Matter of Urgent Public Importance.
Commenting on the Matter, the Speaker of the Abia State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon Chinedum Enyinnaya Orji, called for contributions to the motion from Members.
The Member representing Ukwa East State Constituency, Hon Paul Tharibo, Called on the House to refer the Matter back to the House Committee on Works.
The Member representing Arochukwu State Constituency, Hon Mike Ukoha, called on other members to support the Matter and the position of the Lawmaker representing Ukwa East.
The Member Representing Isialangwa State Constituency, Hon Ginger Onwusibe, thanked the Lawmaker representing Umunneochi for bringing up the matter.
“As the Chairman of the House committee on Works, we are interfacing with the Ministry of Works.
“It is not only for the Governor to give approval, it is also important that the approval is backed up by the releasing of funds”.
The Speaker said:
“Having listened to all the submissions from the Honourable Members here especially the one by the House Committee on Works, I think our resolution should be as follows:
“That the House Committee on Works do a proper Oversight on the road in question.
“And to interface with the Ministry of Works to find out why the Governor’s directives on the road have not been carried out”.
The House subsequently resolved as announced by the Speaker.
Notice of Presentation of Bill:
H.A.B.7: Abia State Specialist And Diagnostic Centre, Umuahia, Bill 2019, sponsored by the Speaker and others.
A Bill for a Law to Establish Abia State Specialist Hospital and Diagnostic Centre, Umuahia, and for other matters connected therewith. (Presentation and First Reading)
The Majority Leader moved that the House do allow HAB7 to undergo First Reading; the Deputy Minority Leader seconded the Motion while the House responded in the affirmative when the Speaker put the Motion up for Vote.
The Bill Passed First Reading.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
The Clerk of the Abia State House of Assembly, Sir JohnPedro Irokansi, read the Orders of the Day as follows:
Presentation by the House Committee on Public Accounts, Anti- Corruption and Due Process on the 2018 Audit Report of the Accounts of Abia State.
The Majority Leader moved a Motion that the Chairman of the House Committee on Public Accounts be allowed to present his Report. The Deputy Minority Leader Seconded the Motion with the House responding in the affirmative when the Speaker put the Motion up for vote.
Presenting the Report, the Chairman of the Committee, Hon Chukwudi Apugo, said the Committee observed the following:
That the Board of the Internal Revenue did not fully utilize the Revenue Window in the State.
That the BIR engaged the services of a contractor to perform their duties.
That the Abia State Board of Internal Revenue did not utilize the workforce of the Board.
That the State does not implement the Procurement Law in awarding contracts in the State.
DISCREPANCIES OF RECORDS between Office of the Accountant General and MDA’s in the State.
That there is lack of synergy between the Office of the Accountant General of Abia State and some Ministries, Departments and Agencies in the State.
That the Accountant General, as a matter of urgency, develop a synergy between his office and MDA’s.
That the House review the BIR Law with a view to unbundling the revenue collection in the State.
That the Public Procurement Law in the state be adhered to in awarding contracts.
The Committee urged the House to pass and clear the 2018 audit Report of Abia State.
The Chairman of the Committee thanked the Speaker and the Members for the opportunity given them to serve.
The Speaker thanked the Chairman of the House Committee on Public Accounts for his detailed report.
The House Leader moved a Motion that the House adopts the Report as a Working Document of the House. The Deputy Minority Leader seconded the Motion while the House responded in the affirmative when the Speaker put the Motion up for Vote.
The Speaker subsequently committed the Report to the House Committee of the Whole for further legislative actions.
(2) Presentation of the Report on the menace of revenue leakages and non payment of salaries by the management of Abia State University.
The Leader of the House, Hon Solomon Akpulonu, moved that the House do allow the Ad Hoc Commitee Chairman to present its report. The Deputy Minority Leader seconded the Motion with the House responding in the affirmative when the Speaker put the Motion up for vote.
Presenting the Report, Hon Paul Tharibo, who stood in for the Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee, Rt Hon Bishop Kennedy Njoku, said the Committee swung into action by inviting the Vice Chancellor of ABSU, the Registrar among others.
(1) Sequel to ongoing investigations, the management of ABSU paid some months’ arrears to its staff.
(2) That retired staff of ABSU are being owed areas of five years.
(3) That the management of ABSU should reconcile the deductions in their books
(4) That ABSU does not receive subventions from the State Government as and when due.
(5) That the management of ABSU is owing its Staff School situated at Aba.
(6) That the Former Abia State Commissioner For Finance ordered Abia State University to engage the services of Lloydant Business Services
() That Lloydant Business Services does not pay tax to the Abia State Government.
(8) That the House should summon the former Commissioner for Finance, Mr Obinna Oriaku, to offer explanation on why he ordered ABSU to engage Lloydant Business Services.
(9) That the Management of Abia State University should release the deductions made from Staff
(10) That the management of ABSU should release to BIR the deductions made for PAYE tax.
(11) That the House should urge the Governor to mandate the Accountant General to increase the subvention to the Institution.
Hon Paul Tharibo thanked the Speaker and Members of the House for the opportunity given them to serve in that capacity.
After the presentation of the Report, the Lawmaker laid the report on the Table.
The Majority Leader moved a Motion that The House adopt the Report presented as a Working Document of the House. The Deputy Minority Leader seconded the Motion with the House responding in the affirmative when the Speaker put the Motion up for Vote.
The Speaker subsequently committed the report to the House Committee of the Whole.
(4) H.A.B.6: The Abia State Consumer Protection Agency Bill, 2019, sponsored by Rt Hon Ifeanyi Uchendu et al.
A Bill For a Law to Establish The Abia State Consumer Protection Agency and for other Matters Connected therewith (Second Reading, First Allotted Time)
The Majority Leader of the House, Hon Solomon Akpulonu, moved a Motion that the House allow HAB6 to undergo Second Reading. The Deputy Minority Leader, Hon Chukwu Chijioke, seconded the Motion with the House responding in the affirmative when the Speaker put the Motion up for Vote.
In leading the debate, the Deputy Speaker and Sponsor of the Bill, Rt Hon Ifeanyi Uchendu, said the Bill seeks to protect Consumers in the State.
He posited that the Bill also seeks to encourage Made in Aba Products among others.
He urged the Lawmakers to support the Bill as it will not be a burden but a blessing to Abia State.
The Member representing Ukwa East State Constituency, Hon Paul Tharibo, in his support for the Bill said the Bill is more of a Health bill which seeks to ensure that Abians live on good health.
“This agency will ensure that goods and services given to Abia populace enjoy standards as measured in other parts of the world”. He therefore urged the House to support the Bill.
The Member representing Ikwuano State Constituency, Hon Stanley Nwabuisi, in his support said the Bill seeks to domesticate the law already existing at the federal level.
The Member representing Obingwa West State Constituency, Hon Thomas Nkoro, said the Bill should seek for the Protection of Consumers in Abia State.
“We should find out if the Bill is proper; what we should find out is if the Bill is seeking the Consumer Protection Council in Abia State”
He said Issues of Consumer Protection is on the Exclusive List of the Federal Government.
The Member representing Umuahia South State Constituency, Hon Barr Jerry Uzosike, said in 1992, the National Assembly passed the Consumer Protection Council Law but its ineffectiveness caused the Kano State government to go ahead to establish the Consumer Protection Council of their own.
“The existing federal laws which went ahead to say there should be a State Committee have not funded this Committee.
“Instead of discarding the Bill, I want to plead with the House for the Speaker to allow the Committee on Judiciary to look at this Bill and bring it out in a way we can safely handle the Bill and pass it into Law”, he said.
The Speaker on his part said if a mention is made on issues of Law and Constitution, the House is bound to look into it critically.
The Leader in his summary of the debate said based on the concerns of some of the Lawmakers, he quoted Item 64 under the Exclusive Legislative List which put the Agency in the Exclusive List.
“What happens in the state is, the Consumer Protection Agency is domiciled in Enugu and those working there are looking for protection against litigation.
“We should find a way for this Bill so that experts will bring in their contributions to enable us repackage this Bill” he said.
The Speaker noted that the points by Hon Nkoro ought to have been made before the Bill was presented.
“If you have a leeway based on what the Constitution said concerning the Exclusive List on whether states can have their own Consumer Protection Council, I think it should have been brought to the notice of the House before we got to this stage”, he said.
The Speaker subsequently committed the Bill to the Abia State House of Assembly Committee on Trade to look into the Bill critically and report back to the House within three weeks.
Consideration of H.A.B 5: A Bill For a Law to Establish Donor Agencies Trust Fund in Abia State and for other Matters connected therewith, in the Committee of the Whole.
The Leader of the House, Hon Solomon Akpulonu, moved that the House defer item number 5 and move straight to Item number 6 on the Order Paper.
He moved a Motion that the House do adjourn Plenary to Wednesday, 13th of November, 2019. The Deputy Minority Leader, Hon Chukwu Chijioke, seconded the Motion with the House responding in the affirmative when the Speaker put the Motion up for Vote.
The Plenary of the Abia State House of Assembly was subsequently adjourned to Wednesday, 13th of November, 2019.
Courtesy: Media Unit, Office of the Speaker, Abia State House of Assembly