- Samson Omale
Governor Lalong Says, Legislative Autonomy not Licence For Misappropriation
Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau says legislative autonomy is no licence for House of Assembly Speakers to misappropriate state funds and divide the people of the state.
Governor Lalong said this on Friday in Calabar during a valedictory session organised in honour of the late Speaker of the Cross River House of Assembly, Mr Mike Ogar.
He said the autonomy being enjoyed by about 15 legislative and judicial arms of government today was fought for by some speakers, including the deceased.
“Today, there is autonomy for some state legislatures and judiciary but it is not a licence for arrogance or embezzlement of funds.
“And when the people ask for accountability you start running to one civil society organisation or the other to defend you.
The Governor took time to explain and give further insight into the leadership tussle in the Plateau state house of assembly where in he said it was purely a legislative matter that should not be put on his neck or the Executive by politicians who want to benefit from the situation by associating with it at all costs.
He said "what is happening in the Plateau State House of Assembly is the dividends of autonomy in action where members are fully in charge of their affairs. Being one of those who struggled for autonomy and had the privilege of implementing it as the first Governor in Nigeria, I dont have the capacity to interfere with the House. To do so will amount to violating the law we have fought hard to bring to reality.
He added that "the members have the right to hold their leadership accountable and demand for transparency. They can even change their leadership if they deem fit. That is what the members of the Plateau House demanded from the former Speaker Rt. Hon. Nuhu Abok who instead of providing answers of the huge monies collected by the legislature in the past six months since autonomy started, decided to start running helter-skelter recruiting sympathizers from ethnic, religious, political and civil society groups.
"This is a wrong thing to do because every problem of the House gets resolved on the floor of the House by the members especially now that they have full autonomy. No one should be blackmailed, including me".
“Everybody blames the governor but there is a limit to what the governor can do in ensuring that bills are passed because he does not sit in the house with the members,” he said.
Governor Lalong, who is the Chairman of the Northern Governors’ Forum, said late Speaker Ogar did his best to promote good governance, democracy and development.
He described him as a reliable politician.
The governor announced his adoption of Ogar’s last son, promising to sponsor his studies at the University of Calabar as his support to the bereaved family.
Gov. Ben Ayade of Cross River called on Nigerians to reflect on their lives as everyone would leave this world some day.
“Our wealth should not be measured by the amount we have in our bank accounts but the number of lives we have touched positively.
Mr. Ogar, who died on Aug. 30 at 63, presided over the house between 2000 and 2003 and represented Bekwarra constituency.