First 100 days of deepening democracy under my watch as Speaker, EDHA
I wish to use this medium to give account of my stewardship within the first 100 days as Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly (EDHA).
Before I continue, I thank my constituents (Esan West Constituency) for electing me to serve as a member of the State Assembly. I cannot be Speaker without first being a Member of the House.
I also appreciate my fellow indefatigable colleagues in the Assembly, for electing me to serve as the Speaker. I pledged my unalloyed loyalty. My emergence as Speaker of the State Assembly was by divine providence and sheer coincidence. It is by providence because it is God that ordained leaders. All glory goes to Him. It is by sheer coincidence, because, it came during the period of the #EndSARS protests which was witnessed in the state and other parts of the country. Interestingly one of the demands of the protesters was for youth involvement in governance which I know I represent by being the youngest Speaker in the history of the Edo State House of Assembly. So, my emergence has paved way for other youths to come into politics, and contribute their parts.
On my first day of presiding over Plenary of the Assembly as Speaker, I unveiled a legislative module that integrates accountability, transparency, synergy, and social inclusion. I reiterated that my tenure will be a memorable one, ladened with people-oriented programmes and policies. So far, a testament of quality representation through sponsoring of bills and resolutions, oversight functions, empowerment, and among others, abound. It is on this premise that in my first 100 days, I have laid a solid legislative foundation that will encourage robust discussions, oversight functions driven by patriotism and devoid of parochialism.
The Edo State House of Assembly under my watch has been working tirelessly to reposition itself to be an effective, efficient, and excellent arm of government, working for the good of all Edo people. The Assembly under my leadership is supporting the state government’s reforms, programmes and policies designed to improve capacity of the people, reduce poverty, create employment and wealth, and tackle insecurity.
Concerned by the spate of insecurity across Edo State, I led other honourable members to the former Commissioner of Police, Babatunde Kokumo, where we urged the leadership of the Police to rise to the occasion and safeguard the lives and properties of people in Edo State.
Upon my assumption of office during the height of the #EndSARS Protests, I Ied other Principal Officers and House Members in condemning the attacks on peaceful protesters by unidentified hoodlums in Benin City. Marching words with action, I suspended plenary in honour of those who lost their lives and properties during the unfortunate attacks.
Furthermore, I led other Members of the House to an on-the-spot assessment to ascertain the level of damage caused by hoodlums following the attack on peaceful protesters, and scenes of looting, and vandalization of the Edo State Central Medical Store Warehouse. The House also came out strongly to condemn the criminally inciting voice note circulated on the social media calling for burning of public institutions in the state.
In my first 100 days in office, I ensured that bills relating to education were given speedy passage among which are the Bill for a Law to establish the Edo State College of Education. As an Assembly, we will ensure that the proposed establishment of College of Education with campuses in the three senatorial districts of the state by Governor Godwin Obaseki becomes a reality.
I recalled that during the maiden edition of the SEPLAT Teachers Empowerment Programme (STEP) in Benin city, which I attended as a Special Guest, I reiterated: “Teachers should be the most appreciated persons in the society, as they are the first sets of mentors our children need.” I have not forgotten my words. The House will ensure that teachers are well equipped, trained, and motivated to carry out their assignments.
Under my leadership, the House also effected a change in the name of Edo University, Iyamho, which is now known by Law as the Edo State University, Uzairue.
In my quest to leave footprints in the sands of time, the house under my leadership passed a Bill for a Law to establish a corporate body to be known as the Edo State Signage and Advertisement Agency and to confer functions relating to the regulations of outdoor structures and platforms used for the display of Advertisement in Edo State and purposes connected thereof. The purpose of the bill is to regulate the indiscriminate erection of billboards and advertisement platforms on the road blurring visions of motorists thereby leading to an accident on our roads.
In response to citizen’s concerns and public expectations, EDHA under my watch made herself accessible and transparent, while focusing more on making laws that will promote peace, unity, and development of Edo State.
Only recently, I was appointed by the Conference of Speakers of State Legislatures of Nigeria as a Member, Committee on Ecological Fund for a memorandum on a bill titled “Bill for an Act to Establish the Regulation of Ecological Funds to Address Nigeria’s Ecological Challenges, particularly Erosion, Landslide, Desertification, Floods, Oil spillage, Drought, etc and for related matters”.
Meanwhile, following the matter of urgent public importance moved by the House Majority Leader, Hon. Henry Okhuarobo, who raised alarm over the deplorable condition of federal roads in Edo State and the adverse effects on the people of the state, I summoned the Controller General, Federal Roads Maintenance Agency and National Emergency Management Agency, to as a matter of urgency, fix the deplorable federal roads in the state.
The House under my watch is set to partner with the Federation of International Women Lawyers (FIDA) Edo State chapter, in championing the elimination of violence against women and children. We are working round-the-clock to ensure that appropriate laws and legislations are passed in the interest of women and children.
A few weeks ago, I flagged off the “One Youth, One Legislator” programme, targeted at mentoring youths for Sustainable National Development. It is aimed at creating opportunities for the youths to achieve their potentials.
In order to enhance efficiency, creativity and productivity among the workforce of the House Service Commission, I graciously established the Directorates of Information, Audit, Budget and Planning, Office of the Clerk, Protocol and Travels, Office of the Deputy Speaker, and Training and Manpower Development.
One major achievement I won’t fail to talk about is overseeing the passage of the 2021 Appropriation Bill of N164.7bn submitted to the House by His Excellency, Governor Godwin Obaseki, Executive Governor of Edo State. The bill which prioritizes capacity building, hiring of professionals into civil service to boost efficiency, among other items, represented a 9.7 percent increase from the revised 2020 budget.
I wish to once again thank my indefatigable colleagues, the entire Staff and Members of the press for the unalloyed cooperation given to me this period.
Finally, I wish to also thank the good people of Edo State for giving me and my colleagues the opportunity to serve them I’m the capacity of Members of the legislature to represent them.
Rt. Hon. Amb Marcus Onobun
Speaker, Edo State House of Assembly
Member, Representing Esan West Constituency.