By Abdul Rahman Sanni
Dr Ali Ahmad was unanimously elected Speaker of the 8th Legislature of the Kwara State House of Assembly on Monday 8th June 2015, by his colleagues following the inauguration of the legislative arm that day.
While accepting to lead the 8th legislature Dr Ahmad said the task was going to be daunting due to the economic recession, unprecedented rise in youth joblessness and insecurity in the country.
Ahmad’s leadership mantra as he set it out, and emphasized on different occasions hinge on the fact that as true intermediary between the people and government, the legislature as the first arm of government, must be creative in proffering enduring panacea to identified problems. Heassured that the legislature, under his watch,would provide platform for good governance and collaborate with the executive in ensuring protection of lives and property, advancement in peoples’ welfare and accelerated socio- economic transformation.
The parliament in the State,according to him is populated by one party which presents its challenges of complacency, apathetic toleration and laid back attitude, hence the need for the House, to be united in ensuring transparency, accountability and good governance.
Three legislative seeions down the line, the Kwara State House of Assembly under the Associate Professor of Law and former Attorney General of the State, has ensured that legislative interventions stimulated economic transformation as legislative assignments were carried out with thoroughness and dedication, robust public hearings on bills and other salient issues were fast tracked while laws were enacted geared towards addressing security challenges in the state.
These include the passage of the state Revenue Administration Amendment Bill, Secret Cult and Secret Societies Prohibition bill in the State, Prohibition of selling of Human Parts bill, Prohibition of Manufacture, Sales and Consumption of Liquor in Ilorin Metropolis, passage of People With Disabilities Bill, state Health Insurance Agency bill, as well as State Urban and Regional Planning Bill.
The 8th legislature apart from making history of passing 4 private member Bills, was bold enough to set the pace for other state Houses of Assembly in the country, to pass amendment bill, suspending payment of pension to former Governors and Deputy Governors, who are still holding public office.
This attracted accolades from well meaning Nigerians, with a charge to other Houses of Assembly across country to emulate the bold steps of the Kwara Parliament.
The responsiveness of the Legislature to the yearnings of the people who elected them into office also manifested with the passage of a private member bill to curtail the incessant ritual killings and exhumation of human corpses in the state, by enacting a law with a stiffer penalties for anybody who
deals,conspire to use any part of the corpse for ritual purposes, or look for,give, receive, sell or use things used to bath, clean,remove from human corpse for ritual purpose, when the extant law proved ineffective in curbing the heinous crime in the State.
The legislative interventions of the House of Assembly under the leadership of the former chairman of the House of Representatives committee on Justice had salvaged the state from the verge of chaos ,unnecessary acrimony occasioned by industrial disputes.
The high water marks of the Ali Ahmad led legislature, for many students and parents, would perhaps be the intervention in arbitrary and illegal hike in tuition fees of Kwara State Polytechnic and admission of students for non accredited courses in the state owned tertiary institutions, while for a larger spectrum of the society these would include extortion of pilgrims for free Saudi Arabia Visas, proliferation of Petrol stations in residential houses in the state. The latter culminated in the initiation and passage of the state Urban and Regional Planning Bill to permanently resolve numerous problems associated with urban and regional planning in the state.
It also resolved the contentious contradiction arising from issuance of Certificates of Local Government Origin, Motions in respect of Welfare of Widows, Appraisal of Corporate Social Responsibility of Companies and Industries in the state as well as Need for full Autonomy for the Judiciary in the state.
It also spearheaded the struggle for the rehabilitation of the then deplorable Ilorin- Jebba- Mokwa highway, when both Kwara and Niger state Houses of Assembly moved their sittings to the highway to draw federal government’s attention to the importance of the highway to the socio- economic wellbeing of Nigerians,to God be thy glory, the comprehensive rehabilitation of the highway has since been completed by the federal government.
The parliament also successfully settled industrial crises between the state government and Staff of the state owned tertiary institutions, the Nigerian Union of Teachers and the National Union of Local Government Employees ( NULGE).
On the passage of Appropriation Bills, the Legislature under Dr. Ali Ahmad’s watch, has been handling the cardinal function of the parliament with tenacity of purpose by ensuring that Budget of each year, reflects the yearnings and aspirations of the people of the State and easier to implement by the executive arm of government. It us noteworthy that for the first time in ten years, the Kwara State House of Assembly succeeded in reverting the state financial year to January -December through the early passage of the 2018 Appropriation Bill before 2017 lapsed.
These were achieved based on the template instituted by the Speaker, who personally supervised budget defence by MDAs in 2016, by making it mandatory for members to ask critical questions, seek verifiable explanations and introduce new proposals, to ensure that the budget reflects the vision of the state Governor, of using agriculture to stimulate sustainable development, job and wealth creation as well as food security.
This was glaringly manifested in 2017 budget,when the House raised allocation of N133m in the agricultural sector to N6.76bn, to enable peasant farmers have access to agricultural loans, tractor hiring scheme, Fadama lll project and other extension services, to galvanize food production in the state.
The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Arewa Consultative Forum, the World Vice Chairman of the Global Industrial Union(IGU), the Proprietor/ Founder of Wellbeing Foundation Africa, Barrister Toyin Saraki, Trade Unions in the State, the Peoples Democratic Party, and the State Governor in their assessments of the Kwara State House of Assembly described the arm of government as the TRUE PEOPLE’S ASSEMBLY which, according to them, had served as the Conscience of the People, effective check of other arms of government, pacesetter for other state Legislatures that has succeeded in making democracy more meaningful to average Nigerians.
These feats according to them, were achieved by the House due to the wealth of experience, wisdom and knowledge of the Speaker, Dr. Ali Ahmad and most members of the 8th Legislature.
Abdul Rahman Sanni, the Chief Press Secretary to the Speaker, Kwara State House of Assembly writes via email@example.com
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