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Your Speaker Is Hiding Letters From You, ENetSuD Replies Hon. Owolabi Razaq

Hon. Razaq Owolabi, the representative of Share/Oke-Ode Constituency (and Chairman of House Committee on Health and Environment) in the 9th Kwara State House of Assembly (KWHA) appeared as a special guest on ENetSuD's radio program (IMÓJÚTÓ OWÓ ARÁ ÌLÚ) to answer questions on the pending Freedom of Information (FOI) bill and the repeal of Governor and Deputy Governor (Payment of Pension) Law that the 9th KWHA has refused to work on after 1 year in office.

It will be recalled that these two (2) bills emanated from ENetSuD and supported by other CSOs, media groups and many members of the public, and are the only 2 pending bills that the 9th KWHA has not acted on after 1 year in office.

While responding to the questions, Hon. Razaq Owolabi has denied the fact that members of the public forwarded any request to the 9th KWHA to repeal the Kwara State Governor and Deputy Governor (Payment of Pension) Law 2010. In his words, he said "there is nothing like Repeal of Payment of Governor's Pension Law before the 9th KWHA. As at today, there is nothing like that bill in the 9th KWHA. Neither the Speaker nor any member of our Assembly has received any request about Governor Pension Law as at today. No member of the 9th KWHA has raised it on the floor of the house".

While responding, the Coordinator of ENetSuD (Dr. Alagbonsi Abdullateef) expressed disappointment in the Danladi-led 9th KWHA on how requests of public origin are being handled in the recent times. "It is worrisome that the KWHA that is supposed to be an Assembly that will give priority to requests from the members of the public has been turned to a place where a public request can be swept under the carpet without any hope of being attended to. The KWHA should normally be a place that Kwarans can approach for their genuine requests with the hope and expectation of prompt actions even if such requests are against the wish of the executive. The Assembly is given so much power that it can even veto a bill passed for the second time after the Governor fails to assent. The essence of the autonomy of the legislature is to enable it to stand by what the people want, but we are not sure if the Kwara Assembly appreciates this constitutional power it has".

To put the record straight, ENetSuD and 263 Kwarans submitted a letter on the 7th January 2020 to the Speaker of the 9th KWHA requesting for a repeal of the Kwara Governor and Deputy Governor (Payment of Pension) Law. The letter was duly acknowledged by the Office of the Speaker (see the attached acknowledged copy as evidence). We do not know if we (the authors of the letter) should be blamed for the failure of the office of the Speaker to do the needful as regards communication of official correspondence received to other members of the Assembly. We are also wondering if we have to start writing all the 24 KWHA members for any request that needs the attention of the Assembly.

It is very shameful to learn that a public request to repeal an obnoxious Pension law for past Governors and Deputy Governors (that Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq even campaigned with on 28th February, 2019 as a candidate of APC)  was received by the Speaker of KWHA but not announced to other members of the Assembly after 166 days. Is the public now at the mercy of the Speaker to determine which request will be made known to the House (either the request will be granted or not)?

For the records, the letter was not addressed to Hon. Yakubu Danladi as an individual, but it was addressed to the Rt. Hon. Speaker on behalf of the 9th Assembly. A popular and collective request of the public is not expected to be kept under the carpet by the Hon. Speaker without being brought to the attention of other members of the Assembly.

ENetSuD had earlier reported that out of the ten (10) bills that the 9th KWHA received within its first year, eight (8) bills were passed while 2 bills were not attended to. These 2 bills that the Assembly failed to attend to were those that emanated from the public, while the remaining 8 bills emanated from the Governor and the Assembly members. The negligence and lackadaisical attitude of the 9th KWHA on these 2 bills of public origin show that the Assembly does not value ideas from the members of the public, which is against the doctrine of participatory governance that is driving many developed nations.

In our mind, we are not clear about whose interest the Speaker is protecting. We are not also clear if the Speaker is ready to receive ideas, inputs and suggestions from the members of the public on legislations of public importance. If he is ready for these, a request from ENetSuD and 263 Kwarans to repeal the Governor and Deputy Governor (Payment of Pension) Law 2010 would not have been kept by the Speaker for 166 days without any announcement in the plenary or referral to any committee for proper legislative actions.

We, therefore, advise Hon. Owolabi and other members of the 9th KWHA to ask from the Rt. Hon. Speaker why the request of the public submitted to the Speaker's office to repeal the Governor and Deputy Governor (Payment of Pension) Law 2010 was not brought to the attention of other House of Assembly members.

In conclusion, ENetSuD (a CSO working in the public interest) will continue to mobilise citizens for civic actions and advocate in the interest of Kwarans for good governance, transparency and accountability.

Usman Radhiyyat Taiye (Mrs),
Deputy Coordinator (Administration)
21st June, 2020

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