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02.07.2019 Feature Article

Legislative Excellence Under The Restoration Administration

The stability of any polity depends largely on the body of laws governing the state. This explains why scholars across time and space have advocated that only the best brain in society should take charge of lawmaking.

In Nigeria, section four of the constitution vests legislative powers in the National Assembly and by extension the state assemblies. Thus, the national assembly is required to make laws for the good governance of the state. This fundamental imperative separate the legislature from other organs of government.

However, apart from lawmaking, the legislature performs a huge range of oversight functions. Together, these oversight functions create an intricate web of checks and balances in a presidential system of government.

It is heartwarming to note that, at the valedictory session of the fifth assembly in Bayelsa state, the outgone Speaker, Right Honourable Friday Konbowei Benson disclosed that under his leadership in the fifth assembly, a total of one hundred and five bills were passed into law. A breakdown showed that ninety-two of them are executive bills.

The implication is that, the Governor Dickson led administration initiated more than ninety-two percent of the bills that were passed into law. Thus, the executive organ of government was more committed to making laws than the House.

The profound meaning is that the Restoration Administration came into power recognizing that there was a huge gap in lawmaking in most critical areas of government.

The Child Right Act was domesticated and the Universal Basic Education Law was amended. November second of every year was acknowledged as a Thanksgiving Day and this was backed by a law in two thousand and twelve. In the same year, the Bayelsa State Symbol and Sign Law was made.

Through the instrumentality of lawmaking, motorbike operations were prohibited. They were replaced by the Restoration Transport Scheme, but the scheme did not endure for too long.

Laws were also made on the Bayelsa Health Insurance Scheme and the Bayelsa State Compulsory Primary and Secondary Education. This was in line with the state of emergence declared on education at inception.

To ensure security and safety of lives and property, the Secret Societies/Cult and other Allied Offences Prohibition Law was made. This led to the renunciation of cultism by eleven thousand youths and the subsequent amnesty that was granted them.

In the education sub-sector, laws were made to establish the University of Africa Toru-Orua, the Bayelsa State Polytechnic Aleibiri, the Institute of Tourism and Hospitality and the Bayelsa State University of Medical Sciences Yenagoa. A law was also made to amend the existing the Bayelsa State College of Education which was relocated to Sagbama for obvious logistics and locational factors.

The implication of the state of emergency in education is that, it led to enrollment boom, encouraged indigent pupils to attend school since tuition fee and other user fees were abolished. Since then, Bayelsa has improved tremendously in ranking in national examinations such as WAEC and NECO. Bayelsa has left the unenviable league of educational disadvantaged states.

To purge the bureaucracy and to reposition the civil service, the Salary Fraud and Related Offences Prohibition Law was made in two thousand and twelve. The law could be described as a master-stroke because it led to sweeping reforms in the public service.

In the course of the reforms, fraud syndicates were smashed, ghost-workers were weeded out, double-employment was stopped and a Commission was set-up to name and shamed payroll manipulators. Ultimately, the wage bill was reduced and job opportunities were created for graduates to be accommodated in the civil service. The reforms also improved work ethics.

Far-reaching laws were made to protect the rights of women. One of such laws was the Safe Motherhood Initiative, which protected the reproductive rights of women. Very prominent and active pressure groups also partnered government in executing the laws.

In the area of youths and women empowerment, government established the Izon-Ibe Microfinance Bank and the Bayelsa State Medium Enterprises Development Agency. While the agency sort for partnership in providing funds, government disbursed some seed money to the bank, which provided soft loans to small scale businesses.

An entrepreneurship centre was also established to encourage youth’s to engaging techno-vocational endeavours. This initiative has expanded the scope of small scale business and access to loans in the state.

In the last analysis, it is germane to say that the Restoration Administration has excelled in lawmaking as an instrument of promoting good governance. Since Bayelsa state was created, no administration has thrived on lawmaking as the Governor Dickson administration.

Bayelsans hope that the next administration will equal the record or even surpass the efforts of the Restoration Administration in lawmaking. This is a realistic expectation because of the calibre of lawmakers that are in the hallow chambers. Bayelsans expect nothing less.

John Idumange
John Idumange, © 2019

This author has authored 48 publications on Modern Ghana. Author column: JohnIdumange

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