Nasarawa: How Assembly’s stability aid governance

CHEKE EMMANUEL reports on how the stability in the Nasarawa State House of Assembly has ensured a cordial working relationship between the legislative and executive arms of government in the state


While some state Houses of Assembly are engrossed in leadership crisis that have led to the impeachment of their speakers and principal officers, the speaker of the Nasarawa State House of Assembly, Hon. Ibrahim Balarabe- Abdullahi is making a difference by providing a visionary and focused leadership that has brought about unity, peace and stability to the legislative arm of government in the state.


A peep into the activities of the Nasarawa State House of Assembly that had Balarabe-Abdullahi elected its speaker on June 9, 2015, shows that the House has so far witnessed peace, unity, stability and progress with lofty achievements recorded through well-articulated legislation.


Determined to collaborate with the executive arm to achieve good governance through enactment of quality legislation and oversight functions, the Nasarawa State House of Assembly recently recommended the suspension of some top public servants, who were found wanting in the course of carrying out their duties.


These top public servants include the former Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Ahmed Aliyu, who was sacked from office over alleged contract scam following a recommendation by the House Committee on Education. Most recently, the Assembly recommended the suspension of a Senior Special Assistant to the Governor Abdullahi Sule on Development Control, Stanley Buba, over alleged acts of insubordination.


The House also suspended the chairman of Nasarawa Local Government Area, Mohammed Otto and the vice chairman of Karu Local Government Area, Lawal Karshi, over alleged acts of insubordination, which they both admitted when they appeared before a committee set up to investigate them.


These actions of the Assembly was intended to sanitize the administration Sule-led All Progressives Congress administration in the state and instill discipline amongst public and elected officials.


The member representing Keana state constituency and chairman, House Committee on Information, Mohammed Omadefu, (APC), who defended the lawmakers’ action, said any right thinking citizen of Nasarawa State knows that the decision of the Assembly to recommend the suspension of the public servants is in the best interest of the state and the government.


His words: “The reason the Assembly advanced for hammering the erring public servants is very obvious because their actions were not in consonant with the public service conduct. That is why the Assembly took the steps to correct the wrongs and send a massage to public servants to sit up. It was not done for any motive because the Assembly and executive are one.


The general public is happy with our decision and I want to believe that the executive arm of government too should not view our decisions from another perspective.” No doubt the Nasarawa State Assembly is chatting the way forward for the state as both the legislature and executive arms of the government are enjoying harmonious working relationship courtesy of the pragmatic leadership style of the speaker, Balarabe-Abdullahi.


This development was attested to by the member representing Lafia North state constituency and chairman, House Committee on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Hon. Ibrahim Alkali, who lauded the speaker for his sterling leadership style.


In an interview with New Telegraph, Alkali described the speaker as a gentleman, caring, hardworking and selfless leader, whose commitment to service cannot be quantified. According to him, the speaker can sacrifice his leisure to attend to both official and personal problems of members in his characteristic manner of carrying all members along.


Hon. Alkali reasoned that the unity, peace and stability being enjoyed by both members and staff of the Assembly, which translates to the excellent relationship between the legislature and executive is because of the visionary leadership provided by the speaker.


According to him, Hon Balarabe-Abdullahi is always there for members and always on duty and maintains constant touch with the executive. He said: “We thank the Almighty Allah that He gave us somebody like the Hon. Ibrahim Balarabe-Abdullahi as the speaker of the Nasarawa State House of Assembly.


In the past five years and half that he is piloting the affairs of this Assembly and from the history of the Nasarawa State House of Assembly from 1999 till date, I can say without mincing words that no Assembly had witness tremendous achievements, unity, peace and stability and progress like during the time of Hon. Balarabe- Abdullahi.


“Besides the primary business of lawmaking such as passing of bills and resolutions, take the aspect of oversight functions, much have been achieved under Balarabe-Abdullahi. The reasons are not farfetched. This is because of the commitment to service of Mr. Speaker.


Anytime you go to the speaker, he is always there and this made all the members to have confidence in him. “He takes members problems as his personal problems. In fact, even if you call him on telephone at midnight, he will pick your call. He can even sacrifice his leisure to attend to members and because of that members have huge confidence in him.


They feel free to interact with him at any time and also contribute freely during sittings and these has translated into many achievement recorded so far during his time. “If you compare the achievement of the Nasarawa State House of Assembly to any state House of Assembly anywhere in Nigeria, you cannot get the outstanding performance like that of the Nasarawa State House of Assembly. In the past one year and six months, we have passed 28 bills and many resolutions.


This is the record you can hardly get from other state House of Assembly in Nigeria. The records are there, Nasarawa State House of Assembly has achieved the highest number of bills in the 6th Assembly in the country. “From our records, Nasarawa State House of Assembly has the most cordial working relationship with the executive arm.


This is because the Assembly is one as the speaker is always there, so members find it easy to work with him and by that members don’t have any problem relating with him. In some cases where you find crisis in some states Assembly is where the leadership don’t carry members along and when the leadership of a House does not carry members along, that gives room for others to start going on the side of the executive, but here in Nasarawa State House of Assembly under Balarabe-Abdullahi the situation is different.


“There hasn’t been any time the Nasarawa State House of Assembly had problem with the executive during the current speaker. At a particular time the executive brought 14 executive bills in one moment and all these bills were considered because of the cooperation and understanding of all members irrespective of political parties.”


Corroborating Alkali’s view, the House Minority Whip, Hon. Abel Yakubu Bala, (PDP) representing Nasarawa Eggon West state constituency, said the Nasarawa State of Assembly had not had it so good like during the time of the Balarabe-Abdullahi.


He argued that although the Assembly had produced many speakers, none got it right like Balarabe-Abdullahi in terms of unity of members, peace and stability and above all, the cordial relationship that exists between the lawmakers and members of the executive.


His words: “The speaker, Ibrahim Balarabe-Abdullahi, is a gentleman. He is somebody that carries all members along. He sees no political differences; all he does is to keep preaching oneness and unity of purpose whether at the executive session or at plenary. He always tell us that once a member get to the gate of the House of Assembly, he should drop his party differences and that is the fundamental reason for unity in the Assembly.


“Today, in Nasarawa State House of Assembly, we are one irrespective of our party differences this is because of the style of good leadership being provided by the speaker. He ensures that all benefits going to every member of staff gets to the person. He is always in touch with the governor all the time to ensure that what is meant for the legislature gets to it at any given time it is provided.


“All that I can say is that I thank the speaker and His Excellency, the governor for having good understanding of one another and appreciating each other’s role The relationship between the legislature and executive is cordial such that any executive bill that comes to the Assembly is always considered in order to achieve good governance and fast track development in the state.


“The speaker maintains that we play our roles in line with constitutional provisions and that is what we members have been doing all along. I must say here that his leadership style is responsible for the peace and stability in the Assembly. He is even pushing that some members of staff who have been working as casuals since the existence of the Assembly are absorbed.”


Findings by New Telegraph showed that between June 9, 2015 and June 2019, that Balarabe- Abdullahi served as speaker of the 5th Assembly, a total of 48 bills were passed, and from 10 June, 2019, when he was re-elected as speaker of the 6th Assembly, 20 bills have so far been passed apart from ensuring early passing of the annual appropriation bills into law.


The speaker, who represents Umaisha/Ugya state constituency, has also sponsored private bills including Anti- kidnapping bill, which prescribed death sentence for kidnappers. He has equally positively touched the lives of his constituents by initiating various empowerment programmes and setting up an education foundation and other welfares schemes.


Due to his hard work, Hon. Balarabe-Abdullahi was recently elected vice chairman, North Central chapter of Nigeria Conference of Speakers of State Legislatures.


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