By Doose Targema
I read a news report in which the Majority Leader of the State Assembly was quoted as saying the Assembly will embark on a screening exercise of workers next week. According to him, they want to ‘compliment’ the screening done by the State government. A good development, isn’t it?
While the Fulani marauders continue to unleash terror on innocent farmers in many parts of the State, the Assembly has done nothing serious in this regard. The last I heard was a motion ( by Hon Terna-kester Kyenge) on the floor of the House. Thereafter, nothing more was done. Not even a visit to the affected communities. Even as I write some people cannot go back to their villages because they are afraid of Fulani attacks.
While I see nothing wrong in the State Assembly conducting screening for staff, it is rather strange that the planned screening is coming at a time when the State government is yet to round up her own screening exercise. For those who do not understand the financial implication of such screening exercises, they may as well think it costs nothing.
At a time when the government seems to be suffering from inadequate allocation/revenue, the cost of conducting a screening exercise can best be viewed as a waste of funds. When such an exercise has already been conducted by the State government, one wonders what the State Assembly really want. Is it that the Assembly also wants to benefit from the bail out funds or what?
Meanwhile, the primary responsibility of the State Assembly is to make laws. I wonder if any law has so far been made or even amended. The only duties the State Assembly has done since inauguration include; granting approval for a N10bn loan facility, Screening of Caretaker Chairmen, Screening of Commissioner nominees, and approval of a N5bn loan facility. Lest I forget, approval of N28.5bn loan (bail out).
The last time I checked, Benue State was still using many laws that were inherited from the Laws of Northern Nigeria and laws of the Old Benue-Plateau State. Many of these laws need to be amended, or even discarded where necessary. Even our revenue service needs new laws that will enhance vibrant revenue generation.
I am beginning to suspect that our State Assembly lacks insight about the law making business, hence their resort to ‘oversight’ functions, including those that amount to duplication of functions. If our Assembly knew what their main responsibility was, they wouldn’t be competing with the State government over staff screening. They would have been working on making laws and amending laws that will make things work for a better society. Come to think of it, has anyone in the Assembly thought it wise to revisit and possibly amend the Traditional Institutions law which generated much controversy? I remember Hon Adanyi even went to court concerning that law, but I cant hear him talking about amending the law now. He only wants to ‘share’ the bail out funds through a ‘dubious’ screening exercise. No one should complain when we begin to hear strange stories, like ‘the bail out money is not enough’, or ‘we cannot pay the bail out money now because the State Assembly is still doing her screening’. These and many other tales may soon begin to emanate from the government.
The earlier our lawmakers begin to look at ways of promoting a better society through people-oriented legislation and checking of executive excesses, the better for us all. For now, the Assembly can best be described as an extension of the executive arm that competes for executive functions.