When the 7th Legislature in Kwara State was inaugurated on the 6th of June 2011 and Barrister Razak Atunwa was unanimously elected as its Speaker following a motion moved by a Member representing Odo-ogun Constituency, Barrister Kamaldeen Oyekunle Fagbemi, Barrister Atunwa made it abundantly clear in his maiden address to make the Legislative Arm of Government under his watch a platform for good governance and to make democratic governance in the State more meaningful to all the inhabitants of the State, irrespective of ethno-religious and political affiliations .
This, according to the helmsman of the State House of Assembly, could be achieved through quality legislations and total commitment of all stakeholders in an atmosphere devoid of rancor and acrimony. To attain an enduring and quality legislation, legislators and legislative staff must be exposed to the rudiments of law-making processes through training and retraining.
This has been unprecedented in the history of the legislature in the State, as a minimum of six staff always accompanied Honourable Members on foreign legislative study tour since 2011. This step, no doubt, is highly commendable under the able leadership and magnanimity of Barrister Atunwa. The 7th Legislature, which derives its powers and activities from Section 4, sub-section 6 and 7 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), is conscious of the fact that it is the arm of government in any democracy charged with the responsibility of providing platform and act as catalyst for States and Nations to make laws for creating enabling environment for sustainable human development and accelerated growth in all facets of human endeavor. Therefore, the 7th Legislature was determined and resolute to make a difference. It is equally mindful of its limitation as though it has power to make laws and amend laws for peaceful co-existence, it does not have the power to legislate on matters contained in the Exclusive List of the 1999 Constitution.
Since the official inauguration of the House four years ago, the State House of Assembly under the leadership of the Rt. Hon. Atunwa Esq. has no doubt made the people of Kwara State to flow along in the business of all round development of the state.
The 7th Legislature has passed 46 Bills, which today has impacted positively on the lives of the people of the State. Most of the Bills passed, went through robust debates on the floor of the House and public hearings to make stakeholders have inputs before their final passage into law, thereby paving the way for enactment of people-oriented laws.
Some of these Bills, which went through public hearing, robust debates at the plenary sessions and which had impacted positively on the lives of Kwarans include Kwara State Security Trust Fund Bill, Kwara State Content Development Agency Bill, Kwara State Community Health Insurance Bill, Kwara State Children Sight Protection Bill, Kwara State Urban and Regional Planning Bill, Kwara State Motor Cycle Operations (Control Safety, etc) (Amendment) Bill, Secret Cult and Secret Societies in Kwara State (Prohibition) Bill 2013, Kwara State University (Change of Name) Bill 2013, Kwara State Structure for Signage and Advertisement Agency (Amendment )Bill 2013, Kwara Debt Securities Insurance Bill 2014, Kwara State Revenue Administration Bill 2015, Kwara State Public Private Partnership Bill 2015, the Cooperative Societies Regulations (Amendment) Notice 2015, amongst others.
The assembly has also within 48 months of the current legislature raised 42 Resolutions arising from motions, and 150 resolutions arising from reports, which focused on problems and inadequacies confronting the people who elected them into office, which prompted urgent redress by the Executive Arm of Government in the State. Such Motions and Reports include environmental sanitation in the State, Indiscriminate sales and consumption of illicit drugs in the state, need to ensure the proper planning of urban centers in the State, deplorable conditions of primary schools in rural areas of the State, Dana plane crash, change of name from the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology to the State Ministry of Education and Human Capital Development.
Others are encroachment to public schools in the State, a brand new logo in the State, deplorable condition of slaughter slap and sales of unwholesome meat in the State, Greater Ilorin master plan, repositioning Kwara State Television Service for efficient and quality service, monitoring and placing of bill boards in unauthorized places, uniform standard measures for measurable agricultural produce sellers in the State, situation of private primary schools, medium term fiscal frame work, indiscriminate construction of bumps and speed-brakers on the roads across the State, proliferation of Motor Parks in Ilorin Metropolis, eradication of sales of alcohol and other intoxicants in motor parks, review of electoral register, and roadside markets and attendant implication on the people.
The lawmakers also within the period under review had intervened with resolutions arising from either petitions from members of the public, corporate organizations or matters of General Public Importance or Matter of Public Importance.
These had in no small measure safeguarded the existing harmonious co-existence of the people in the State and at the same time provided direction for the State Government in areas where the yearnings of the electorate would be promptly addressed. These include personal explanation on alleged double taxation paid by market women in Ipata Market in Ilorin, blockade of the road leading to Fufu from Agbabiaka, abandoned Ilorin/Eruku Boundary Road project, strike action embarked upon by staffers of the State-owned Colleges of Education and College of Arabic and Islamic Legal Studies. Personal explanation on the deadly Ohan and Moro bridges along Igbeti-Kishi Kaiama road, Damaged powerline along New Yidi road, deplorable condition of Opomalu road, resolutions on incessant flood disaster at Oke Afon in Omu-Aran, congestion within Ilorin metropolis, deplorable condition of primary and secondary schools in the State, collapsed bridge and flood at Ejiu-ile in Ekiti Local Government, alleged scarcity and hike in the price of kerosene in the State, devastating effects of rainfall on some bridges and culverts in Baruteen, bitter experience encountered by Kwara State Pilgrims on 2011 Lesser Hajj and lack of potable water in Offa and Oyun Local Government Areas. Others are bushy condition of road setbacks and unclear wastes in Ilorin metropolis, Deplorable condition of Ipata-Aduralere road, Agbo-Oba-Henry George roads, Need for rehabilitation of Ikotun Water Dam, Need for completion of rural electricity projects in some communities in Ilorin East Local Government Area. Petition titled “Before the Loss of Lives and Properties from Ita Alamu Community Development Association”, petition titled “Disorderly Behaviours, Destruction and Looting of properties written by Alhaji Aduke Azeez and 7 others,” Non-functioning of the A.M. Channel and limited coverage of F.M. Band of the state Broadcasting Corporation, Request for total rehabilitation of Ikotun Water Works, Petition on compulsory retired Nurses, Midwives and Community Health officers from the State Civil Service. The House also made resolutions in respect of loss of lives recorded at Railway Crossing along Ilorin and Offa axis due to lack of caution signs and allegation of mismanagement of House of Assembly fund levied against the Speaker by a member representing Ipaiye/Malete Oloru Constituency. The legislative arm of government equally successfully intervened in the controversy surrounding the new urbanization policy of the State Government and land disputes between some communities in the State.
The Legislature, which is also empowered by the 1999 Constitution to carry out oversight functions on public institutions and government, had carried out oversight visits either by all members or at Committee Level to put government and public institutions on their toes. The House had judiciously utilized this weapon to monitor and evaluate the implementation of budget in accordance with appropriation law of each year by the Executive Arm of Government and at the same time ensured value for money on project execution and accountability in governance. Some of the oversight functions were carried out before the Ministerial Budget Defence of the previous year’s budget to assess the actual performance and even after passage to monitor implementation of the appropriation law for the given year, thereby putting the Executive Arm on the right path to ensure compliance with expected budget performance. Some of the ongoing projects visited by all members and led by the Speaker, Barrister Atunwa, include International Aviation College, Apron Taxi Way of Cargo Terminal, General Hospital Ilorin, Omu-Aran, Share, Offa Garage-Dangote Road, NUJ Press centre, Expansion and Rehabilitation of semi Water Works in Afon, Share and Tsaragi as well as Patigi-Rogun-kpada road where members had the opportunity to ask questions, raised observations on the modus operandi of terms of condition, period of completion, mode and level of payment and the quality of service being rendered by the contractors handling such projects.
The 24-member Parliament also devised feedback mechanism to make them feel the pulse of those who voted them into office through their respective Constituency Offices and responded either through motions, Matters of Urgent Public Importance, Matter of General Importance at the floor of the House. Such activities of the Honourable members while performing their constitutionally-mandated functions have attracted commendations and appreciations as feedbacks from the beneficiaries. For example, the Kwara State Childhood Sight Protection Bill passed into law by the 7th Legislature on Tuesday 10th December, 2013 received a compliment when the Ophthalmological Society of Nigeria forwarded a letter signed by its President, Prof. Sebastian N. N. Nwosu, to the House in acknowledgement of the dynamic roles of the Parliament. Similarly the Committee of Heads of Kwara State-owned Tertiary Institutions (COHESTI) also sent in a letter of commendation on resolutions of the House banning the production and sale of handouts and instituting conference-marking in the State’s Tertiary Educational Institutions. The Committee gave kudos to the Committee on Education and Human Capital Development, the Leadership of the House and the entire House for the all- round quality legislation. These two instances mentioned were just a tip of the iceberg when cognizance is taken and showers of encomiums were poured on the Hon. Members of the 7th Legislature.
Apart from providing enabling environment for Sports to thrive in the State by enacting necessary laws that would enhance accelerated sports development, the State House of Assembly has equally been directly involved in exposing and harnessing hidden talents at the grassroots by sponsoring the annual Speaker’s Cup in football for youths in all the 16 Local Government Areas of the State, finance, sponsor and assist sporting associations to pave way for all-round sports development in the State. The Speaker also hosted an indigene of the State and a member of the Golden Eaglets who won the last edition of the U-17 World Cup in the United Arab Emirate for Nigeria in person of Master Taiwo Awoniyi and presented him with a sum of N250,000 to serve as motivation for the worthy ambassador of the state and indeed Nigeria.
In the like manner, the Speaker in a bid to encourage tapping of sports talents and harnessing media relations on 14th September, 2014 not only unveiled the logo of 2014 SWAN Media Games, but also on behalf of the House donated a sum of N500,000 towards the tournament. All the Principal Officers of the House witnessed the colorful ceremony by receiving Alhaji Mohammed Tunde Akanbi-led Planning Committee during the ceremony.
Information And Public Enlightenment
The House having realized the pivotal role of the media in the sustenance of democracy in Nigeria, had in the whole of 2014 sponsored a weekly half hour programme tagged “Assembly Watch” on the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Ilorin to further acquaint members of the public on the activities of the House, as well as provide feedbacks on its activities to ensure improved performance.
It also sponsored a capacity workshop tagged “Rt. Hon. Razak Atunwa Capacity Building Workshop for Journalists in the State” as part of activities marking the 2014 Press Week of the State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) to further enhance media performance among the pen pushers in the State. It is in recognition of these achievements that the Speaker Barrister Atunwa was recognized by the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in the State with a distinguished Lawmaker of the Year Award.
Atunwa’s Numerous Pragmatic Interventions
In tandem with the regular saying that government alone cannot completely meet the yearnings and aspirations of the teeming populace, Barrister Atunwa had in the last four years taken the bull by the horn to complement government’s effort in giving out dividends of democracy to the people.
Though many in this direction, an attempt has been made to bring some of them to the fore, not for self-aggrandizement other than for record purpose for legacy in continuity.
At one time or the other, the Speaker procured an 18 – seater bus for Asa Local Government Secondary School, Efue Berikodo and donated a sum of N2 million towards provision of facilities and equipment for the school to facilitate its being grant aided and accredited.
On another occasion, a sum of N500,000 was donated to connect Olowo and Ladele villages in Asa Local Government to the national grid and also another sum of N400,000 to re-fix vandalized electric cable at Alapa, Agbona, Efue Dongaris electricity power line.
Not done yet, the Speaker has also been donating N500,000 yearly for grading of Itamo-Ogundele-Oyo State boundary road and for drilling boreholes at Badiko, Ubandawaki and Apo villages to provide the communities with safe and drinkable water.
He equally donated N100,000 to re-roof Asa Local Government Secondary School Temidire that was affected by rainstorm and paid N500,000 yearly as school fees for indigent indigenes of Owode/Onire Constituency.
The Speaker equally donated the sum of N2 million to three mosques Gogoro Central Mosque, Tajju-Addab Central Mosque and Isale Banni Central Mosque all in Ilorin West Local Government.
Similarly, 40 bundles of iron sheets for ten people whose houses were affected by rainstorm were provided and N400,000 donated to victims of the disaster as succor and to mitigate the effect of pain and losses. He also donated N200,000 to rehabilitate Temidire Central Mosque, construct blocks of classrooms at Dongari and Budo Ottu Local Government Area Schools and distributed instructional materials worth millions of naira to all secondary schools in Asa and Ilorin West Local Governments.
Little wonder then that all these numerous interventions having touched lives and the society have earned Barrister Atunwa another higher pedestal at the House of Representatives to represent Asa/Ilorin West Federal Constituency where he would further demonstrate to his constituents that he has milk of compassion flowing freely in his veins. To whom much is given, much is expected as the Speaker has aptly demonstrated.
Atunwa 1 as he is fondly called has kept his words and matched them with actions and has endeared himself to the people having piloted the 7th Legislature through vibrancy in leadership and magnanimity in legislation. It had been worth the while after all.
Summary of Achievements of The 7th Legislature Of The Kwha
Total No of Bills 41
Total No of Motions 41
Total No of Resolutions arising from Petitions 150