- The Governor of Kaduna State, Senator Uba Sani, issued the proclamation instrument, which signified the commencement of the 10th Assembly. This is in exercise of the powers conferred on the Governor by section 105, subsection (3) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended). As the new members are being sworn-in and principal officers elected, a huge burden of responsibilities and high expectations is upon them.
The Assembly must realize that the legislature is at the heart of democracy. The primary role of the legislature – in terms of representation, law-making and oversight of the Executive arm – is central to good governance, law and order. However, the continuous low quality of representation and inability to effectively meet the peoples’ expectations has led to the stereotype of previous Assemblies as rubber stamp.
To change this perception, especially with the passage of the Legislature Financial Autonomy (control and management) Law, 2021, will the 10th Assembly have the courage to exercise independence and objectively check the Executive? Will law-making no longer be based on the directive of the Executive? Will the Assembly now indepthly scrutinize the annual appropriation? Will the Assembly now better carry-out oversights and call for investigative hearings? Will the Assembly follow-up to ensure execution of audit recommendations?
Furthermore, will the 10th Assembly hold evidence-based consultative and feedback (town-hall) meetings with their constituents to inform the law-making process? Will the Assembly institute a culture of open parliament and enable more effective civil society engagements? Will the Assembly collaborate with the civil society to effectively carry-out oversights, investigative hearings and audit report reviews?
Therefore, the legislative agenda before this Assembly is to first review the remaining five bills (including that of access to public information) that were not passed by the last assembly and accelerate passage into law. Followed by the review of the Kaduna State Fiscal Responsibility Law, 2016, to: empower the Fiscal Responsibility Commission to organize quarterly fiscal performance stakeholders’ town-hall meetings; and enforce penalty on Ministries, Departments and Agencies that hinder fiscal transparency, accountability and citizens’ engagement.
Likewise, The Planning and Budget Law, 2017, should be amended to: mandate the Executive and Legislative arms to hold annual budget town-hall meetings and appropriation public hearings (including supplementary budgets); and provide legal backing for the Community Development Charter (CDC) protocol that has been approved by the last State Executive Council (SEC).
In terms of annual appropriation, the Assembly should indepthly scrutinize the annual budgets to ensure strict alignment with the Public Finance Law -2016, Fiscal Responsibility Law – 2016, Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF), revenue targets for Ministries, Departments & Agencies (MDAs) are realistic as well as allocations are made to only strategic priorities. Furthermore, carry-out oversights to ensure budget releases have timely cash-backing and service delivery reflect value for money. The Assembly should initiate legislation that provides a legal framework for citizens’ involvement in the legislative process.
In addition, all members of the Assembly should be mandated to hold quarterly evidence-based constituency town-hall meetings. Also, the Assembly should have a website to ensure all information related to the legislative process (information on lawmakers, meeting agendas, bills, debates, voting records and laws) is published online in a machine readable format. To strengthen horizontal accountability, the Assembly should champion the inclusion of OGP’s open parliament commitments in the State Action Plan.
With development outcome indicators of the State still at disturbing levels, the 10th Assembly must live up to its mandate and ensure that it provides people legislations, effective representation, oversight as well as hold the Executive arm accountable.
Wishing the Assembly best of success.
Lets engage, ask the right questions and hold the government accountable.
Yusuf Ishaku Goje
Active Citizens and a member of CS-Legislature Engagement & Accountability Platform (CLEAP)