Abdulrazaq Mungadi, Gombe
The Gombe State House of Assembly has passed into law a bill seeking a law for the establishment of a joint project development agency and other matters related thereto.
The State Governor, Muhammad Inuwa Yahaya had sent the bill which in other words, subjects initiation and execution of Local Government projects to the proposed agency.
However, the bill did not have a smooth sail following the ‘dust’ raised against the bill by Mr. Rambi Ibrahim Ayala, a member representing Billiri East State Constituency. Mr. Rambi is also the Chairman of the House Committee on Judiciary.
During it’s sitting on 4th February 2020, the House, in receipt of the bill, after deliberations, referred the bill to the joint committee for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs and that of Judiciary for further scrutiny and report back in six weeks.
But Thursday afternoon during its sitting and just before the passage of the bill, Mr. Ayala (PDP), described the bill as anti-democratic, anti-people, and goes contrary to President Muhammadu Buhari’s directives to the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit to ensure that the funds that belong to the Local Governments go directly to the Local Governments.
Speaking on top of his voice, he said the bill goes contrary to section seven of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and called on his colleagues to jettison the bill and then walked out of the chamber.
However, Speaker of the House, Abubakar Sadiq Ibrahim, after listening to contributions from members, most of who supported the bill called for its passage after the third reading which was done by 17 out of the 24 member House including the Speaker.
Mr. Musa Buba, (APC) Balanga North Constituency moved that the House pass the bill and was seconded by Adamu Saleh Pata, (APC) Yamaltu East Constituency.
In the report presented to the House by the House joint committee for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs and the Judiciary, Mr. Rambi Ayala, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, his deputy and two others refused to append their signature in the report that had seven members. According to Rambi, he does not know where the report emanated from.
Also, two out of the seven members of the committee on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs refused to sign the report presented to the House.
In separate interviews with proponents and opponents of the bill, Honourable Adamu Saleh Pata said the House did not go against the law as it has the right to pass bills that will balance the Government adding that, without the joint funds, the State Government cannot executive or maintain most of its projects.
He said: “We prepared the bill and passed it into law in order to monitor the activities of the Local Governments. When they bring 40 percent, the State will bring 60 percent to execute projects. There was autonomy in the past Governments but no implementation. This Government brought this law to cover the Local Governments and the State’s money”.
On his part, Rambi Ayala said, he had to walk out of the chamber even before the end of the sitting because it was so annoying to him that even as a co-chair in the committee’s assignment, everything about the bill was shrouded in secrecy. “I will not be surprised if it was not doctored somewhere and that it must be passed”, he said.
“I am sure that if Mr. President sees this report, he will be so sad to hear that after his efforts, this is what is we are having in Gombe State House of Assembly. I have said the position of my people in Billiri, we are not a party to this and if the bill is passed, they will take the next step even if it means challenging it in court.
“I have interacted with my colleagues and a good number of them are not in support of the bill but they are afraid to take a stand,” he stated.