The Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) in Akwa Ibom has declared the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly too weak for an arm of government in a democracy.
This assertion was made by Franklyn Isong during his interaction with newsmen in Uyo on Wednesday.
He alleged that; the 7th Assembly lacks initiative in carrying out its oversight functions, positing that the state Legislature was being tied to the apron-string of the executive.
According to him, the House merely passes motions to approve loans for the executive without monitoring the utilization of such funds.
And reflecting on specifics, he said that the committee set up by the Assembly to probe the alleged N1.057billion constituency project as indicated in the annual report of the Accountant General of the state, could not unravel the claims before it became public.
“From the Accountant General’s report, government claimed to have given the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly the sum of N1.057b for constituency projects. Now we have not seen any of these projects on ground, and the house waited for this to come to the public before reacting?
“”It means that each of the 26 state constituencies may have smiled to the bank with N40.6m. Now, show us what you have been able to do with the money.
“For me, the 7th Assembly is tied to the apron string of the executive. You only pass motions authorizing the executive to receive loan, without monitoring how the loans were utilized. Attend their sittings, you would see that the Assembly is no longer interactive because of the quality of men there”, he said.
Isong who further knocked the Assembly over non-implementations of recommendations by members of the public during public hearings, recalled how observations around the ongoing worship center which he said was not meant to be built with public funds were ignored by the Assembly.
Corroborating the CLO’s position, a serving member of the 7th Assembly who craved anonymity said the house has lost its relevance as an arm of government.
“The 7th Assembly is now like one of the MDAs of government, it is no longer fit to be considered an arm of government. Look at the people working on budget, they have no clear-cut understanding of what they are doing. They go for oversight functions but cannot ask relevant questions. Members no longer have the boldness to query the issues they are not comfortable with, just because they do not want to be starved of funds”.
Reacting to the concerns raised, the Chairman, Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly Committee on Information, Mr Aniefiok Dennis, said the 7th Assembly has remained alive to its responsibilities and was not influenced by anyone.
“it was the responsibility of the executive to implement the budget. But, as Legislature, we have, through our various committees remained committed in the discharge of our oversight function,” he said.
On the alleged N1.057b constituency project fund, he assured that, a committee has been set up to look into the report, promising to update members of the public as soon as report of the committee was out.