Lagos Assembly renews focus
How did the Lagos State House of Assembly fare in 2012? OZIEGBE OKOEKI examines the past legislative year, the laws and resolutions passed, and the areas of priority in 2013.
There was no dull moment during the crtitical legislative year. Lawmakers achieved a shift in collective focus. Unlike 2011, the Lagos State House of Assembly passed more bils and resolutions for good governance. in 2012. The deputy speaker of the House, Mr. Kolawole Taiwo, affirmed the shift. “We have moved from establishment laws to ‘law and order’ laws and we will continue with it this year. This is because we know that if we can let our people see reason now, why we need to live based on law and order, we would have solved several problems,”he said.
The House passed 11 bills into law in 2012. The most important of them, according to Taiwo, was the traffic law. Although the law was trailed by a lot of controversies and protests by commercial motorcycle riders, popularly called Okada, leading to destruction of property and sometimes lost of lives, the law has come to stay, more so when a suit filed by the Okada riders against the state government as a result of the law was thrown out by the courts. Many Lagosians agree that the law has instilled sanity on Lagos roads, although it has deprived a lot of people their means of livelihood.
Other laws passed include: The 2012 Appropriation Law; A law to amend the Lagos State Law Reform Commission; A Law to amend the High Court Law Cap. H3 Laws of Lagos State; A Law to provide for Lagos State Polytechnic; A law to amend and re-order the 2012 Appropriation Law; A law to establish the Lagos State Scholarship Board; 2013 Appropriation Law, and The Cremation Law.
The Cremation Law which was passed at the last sitting of the House in December 2012 remained controversial until the day it was passed because of the opposition of some religious groups and individuals to it. But Taiwo said that though the bill was controversial, “we passed it to correct imbalances on how we bury our dead, particularly unclaimed and unidentified corpses”. The law provides for cremation on unclaimed corpses in morgues and their voluntary cremation.
About twelve bills are at different stages of passage. Prominent among them are: Consumer Protection Agency Bill; Lagos State Revenue Administration Bill; Lagos State Oil and Gas Corporation Bill; Facilities Management and Maintenance Bill; Freedom of Information Bill; Lagos State Lands Registration Bill; Lagos State Anti-Terrorism Bill; Lagos state House of Assembly Budget and Legislative Research Office; Local Government (Administration) (Repeal and Re-enactment) bill etc. About seven other bills are awaiting executive briefing.
The Lagos State Revenue Administration Bill would have been passed in December 2012 but for the disagreement between chairman, Hon. Adefunmilayo Tejuosho and Vice Chairman, Hon. Oluyinka Ogundimu and other members of the Finance Committee over the committee report presented to the House.
The Deputy Speaker also revealed: “The Consumer Protection Agency bill is one of the ‘law and order’ bill though it is yet to be passed, it is going to assist us; we lack political will to face reality when it comes to controlling the quality of products that come into our society. We will pass the consumer protection law which will move us from quality control to quality assurance which is the global standard. And we will be sure of a quality that is acceptable to our environment.”
The House was applaudee for recorded the early passage of the 2013 Appropriation Law. Governor Babatunde Fashola, while signing the bill into law, said it had not happened in a long time.
The House also passed 62 resolutions in 2012 which resolved many contentious issues that could cause major crisis in the state, such as land disputes, state of roads especially federal roads, revenue and power generation, oil and gas production, local councils’ rates, deployment of indigenes of the state to crisis-prone areas in the North for their National Youths Service; demolition of faulty buildings, etc.
The resolutions are as follows: “That the state government takes advantage of the new policy on power transmission to provide light for citizens; that the federal government should rehabilitate deplorable federal roads in the state; redeployment of National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members from volatile states in the North; deplorable state of Ikorodu/Itoikin and Ikorodu/Sagamu Roads; the need to strengthen monetary policy, manage inflation and ensure economic growth; indiscriminate increase in petroleum products’ prices by independent petroleum marketers and hawking of petroleum products in the state.
The lawmakers were also not found wanting on oversight functions. They either undertook several fact-finding visits to Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) or invited officials from the executive to come and explain one action, expenditure or the other either in the House.
The House was also up and doing in the area of infrastructural development in the Assembly. It improved on infrastructure in the complex as it commissioned an ultra-modern legislative chamber last year. And another six-storey block of offices for lawmakers is almost ready for commissioning. It also did not relent in capacity building programmes for lawmakers and staff of the Assembly.
In the area of Executive-Legislative relationship, 2012 witnessed the best in relationship between both arms. It was devoid of any crisis. This probably explains the early passage of the 2013 Appropriation Law by the lawmakers. And Taiwo confirmed the positive development.
Taiwo said the House will continue with ‘law and order’ bills this year to bring law and order to the society and ensure that things move smoothly.
“The consumer protection agency bill is another law and order law is very important to us; we will pass it to ensure that we control the quality of goods and services that come into our society,” he added.
He disclosed: “We will carry out our town hall meetings to get the feelings of our people. We shall go round the whole state, get information about their expectations from our government.” This time, according to him, officials from the executive, particularly economic planning ministry, will be involved in the town hall meeting.
“The problem of the previous town hall meeting will not surface this time around, because the executive will also be taking note. Therefore, the idea that they will not inculcate our findings in the next budget will not be there .”
The House, according to Speaker Adeyemi Ikuforiji, will also witness more capacity-building programmes both for lawmakers and staff of the Assembly, locally and internationally, in the New Year.
Making a pledge for 2013 on behalf of the Assembly, the Deputy Speaker said: ”We will not relent in making Lagos better; we will not rest on our oars; we will put the executive on its toes to solve most of our problems like electricity and infrastructure.”