Issue of autonomy for legislative arm is constitutional – Plateau speaker

Rt Honourable Abok Nuhu Ayuba is the speaker of Plateau state House of Assembly. In this exclusive interview with MUHAMMAD TANKO SHITTU, he spoke about autonomy for the legislative arm and sundry issues.

The 9th assembly under your leadership just marked one year. How has it been?

Thanks be to God who has been our guide. It has not been easy but with God, things went well. As a first timer, I have to go through some learning processes even though I can’t say I am through by now, but I have learnt a lot. When we came in, I met with the governor who was once a legislator and told him that I do not just see him as the governor, but as someone to lead us in moving the state through this arm of the government. And he has been supportive. We have achieved a lot based on his advice. Also, I have been consulting with ranking members and they have been helping us on how to do the best for the people of the state. So, the journey has been so good so far.

The last session has 63 bills before the House out of which six were passed into law. How many were private bills?

The 9th assembly has set up a target of what to do. We set the legislative agenda in which we considered the executive bills and members also sponsored private bills which we also subjected them to public hearings. There are quite a number of those private bills sponsored by the lawmakers, but as at now, I cannot tell how many they are.
One trending issue is the executive order 10 signed by President Muhammadu Buhari on legislative autonomy for which governors seem to have issues with.

What is your take on it?

Before the executive order 10 by the President, the governor already set up his committee. We started the discussions since January 2020. The issue of the autonomy is constitutional but implementation is now the only matter. Our governor being a one-time legislator, the longest serving speaker and lawyer knows the judiciary. He also knows very well the challenges of those arms of government, so he set up the committee and we have concluded on the percentage and everything about implementation. The law that is supposed to protect and guide the implementation has been passed by the assembly, but our governor, being chairman of the Northern Governors Forum, wouldn’t want to do something ahead of his colleagues, so he decided to delay it for them to take a collective decisions all over the country. There have been a meeting at the Speakers Forum and Governors Forum levels and we have set up a twelve-man committee of six speakers and six governors to discuss on the way forward of which we have almost reached conclusion for implementation of the autonomy.

The House had frowned at the non-implementation of resolutions and laws passed by it. What next action do you intend to take?

We attach so much priority to our work for the good of the people, and we have passed so many bills and resolutions. For every bill to pass, it has to have the backing of two third of the members. We have passed so many resolutions that need urgent attention of the government and in the cause of our duty, we found that some people do not obey it; so, we took it upon our selves that anybody that fails to implement our resolution would be called to the floor of the House for the law to take its course. This recent resolution was on the issue of trucks that have been killing people. We  passed a resolution that no truck should come to Jos in the day time. To that extent, we called the commissioner of transport to answer why the resolution was not implemented. Let me say that we are very serious about it.

The House recently, suspended two local government council chairmen: Hon Abbas Wakdong and Hon Isaac Kwallu with outcries that it was illegal and politically motivated? What actually happened?

It is important that this question has come up now because I did not have the opportunity to explained this before. Laws in Plateau state need to be respected; we cannot allow someone to leave on illegality simply because he has political ambition. The issue of Kanam LG chairman started sometimes in October last year when he suspended seven duly democratically elected councillours. Before the suspension, he refused to comply with Section 5 of the Plateau State Local Government Law which provides that the House of Assembly Service Commission shall appoint a clerk for each of the 17 local government councils, which were all appointed, Kanam council chairman refused to swear-in the clerk appointed by the law. We called his attention via another letter from the House of Assembly Service Commission asking him to swear-in the clerk but he continued in his illegality.In November, we received a petition by the councillours that the chairman has suspended them whereas Section 7 states that all activities of that arm of government should be rectified by the State House of Assembly. We set up a committee to interface and settle the dispute between the executive and legislative arm, but the chairman refused to comply to the directive up till now. By law, no executive have the right to suspend any legislator. It is just like telling you that the governor has suspended a member of the House of Assembly; that would leave the state in anarchy. He was called to the House and told to reinstate those councillours, but he still refused to comply. Likewise, the chairman of Quan’pan LG just suspended five of his councillors and we have written him severally to reinstate them but he equally refused to comply. When you suspend a councillor, you are depriving the entire people he represents their right of representations. Because by suspending them, it also means that there would be no legislative balance and that means there would be no law in the local government. This assembly would not allow illegality to continue. We suspended them for three months because since we have the right of oversight over them, we equally have the right to suspend them. Our motives is only for full implementation of the law.

What does it means to lead an assembly comprising mainly of APC and few PDP members?

Our priority is how to move the state forward: we see our selves as not party representatives, rather representatives of the people. Although I am the one wearing the crown as speaker, but I see myself as their servant. I respects each and everyone of them.

As speaker, does the office, affects your representation?

The function of my office as speaker has not in anyway taken off the responsibility of representing my people; I take it as an added advantage to represent them well. I always go back to my constituents, hold town hall meetings to hear what they have to say and present same on the floor of the House. My youthfullnes is another advantage. I have lobbied so many things, particularly the issue of road network that would link Jos-east with the state capital and we extensively discussed it with his Excellency, Governor Simon Lalong. Even the only road from NDLEA-Fabur-Ngware, is also in a very bad situation, the Governor is so passionate about development. He has given contratct for the construction of the road from Fobur-Maijuju-Zagdi and that of Fobur-Ngware for repairs, the only unfortunate thing is lean resources. I wish that we came between 2011 and 2015.

Lastly Mr speaker, what do you foresee from the caretaker committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC)?

In life, there is no big house that would not have crisis. We appreciates Mr President for his intervention and bold decisions of resorting back to drawing board to form a committee since those holding positions cannot hold it well and move the party forward. The party is not only for us but the entire country and the President’s decisions has made it stronger. Come 2023 in Plateau state, it would wax stronger.

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