The Wrong Reading of Enugu State House of Assembly: Attention Daily Gazette Blog

By Sunday Alumona

That which is said and known about the Uche Ugwu-led Enugu State House of Assembly is incontrovertibly in the positive, contrary to the misinformed claims of Daily Gazette blog run by one JohnPaul Anih. Anih, in a publication he circulated on many WhatsApp platforms, had erroneously claimed that the Assembly was weak and worse than rubber stamp. In fact, he titled the misguided piece thus: “Enugu Assembly Weak. Worse Than ‘Rubber Stamp’.”

What really informed these claims? But for shere mischief, there is absolutely nothing to back up these claims. The said Anih ran for the assembly under the Labour Party in the 2023 election and was rejected at the polls. Perhaps Anih had envisaged bickering between the assembly and the executive. That probably would satisfy his ostensible quest for a strong legislature that opposes whatever the executive proposes even when the proposal is fit for the purpose. He had expected a divided legislature with factional speakers and two mazes, a situation where nothing works, when the legislative business is stalled. Such vile imagination would gratify Anih’s sadistic urge and misplaced sense of opposition politics.

Let us even look at the reasons Anih and his Daily Gazette attributed weakness and the cliche, rubber stamp, to the Enugu Assembly.

One, Anih claimed that the screening of commissioners by the 8th parliament was “bow and go.” But for mischief, Anih should have at least said the truth about the screening of the commissioners, which was a clear, rigorous process of drilling the nominees. Governor Mbah is a meticulous person and had carefully selected competent persons distinguished in their fields with whom he would work to the delivery of his governance vision. It would be very difficult for anyone to fault Mbah. Even at the rigorous drilling of the nominees, they all scaled through.

There was yet another reason Anih adduced to conclude the house was weak, a reason which exposed Anih’s ignorance. You had better leave off a matter of which you know little. The said N170 billion loan, if a loan it is, which the assembly approved is a reason for the ascription of such pejorative terms to the assembly. The fact is that what the ignorant call loan is a creative process by which Mbah raised money for projects that would yield over 100% returns. The bank guarantee for N100 billion from Fidelity Bank is a contigent liability that would crystalize in 36 months, during which time the New Enugu City project shall have been completed and the returns realized. It has been worked out with mathematical precision that the project would yield N500 billion, meaning N400 billion will be realised as profit. Isn’t it worth the while? The sum of the N50 billion loan from Globus Bank is for the housing project by Enugu State Housing Corporation. That project is accurately projected to yield extra N50 billion returns. Isn’t it worth the while? The other N20 billion is a term loan set aside for contigencies, which may eventually not be drawn down. So,who would see this creative way of raking in revenue for the state and reject it in the name of playing opposition politics to gratify the mischief of the likes of JohnPaul Anih? Not Enugu State House of Assembly peopled by experienced, mature, intelligent, and wise honorables.

The third reason Anih advanced was the manner in which the assembly approved the 2024 Appropriation Bill, the Budget of Disruptive Economic Growth. But for decency of language, one would dismiss Anih as daft. This is a budget that has received much commendation all over Nigeria. For weeks, it was the subject of discussion on social and mainstream media. It made the discussion of TVC News Journalist Hangout, where the discussants said the budget was inimitably unprecedented. Arise News, AIT, Channels, and other electronic media, even within Enugu, were full of commendation for the governor for that bill. This is a budget that has 80% capital expenditure framework, leaving only 20% for recurrent expenditure. Meanwhile, the budget is 12% debt enabled while the greater chunk is enabled by the mobilisation of domestic revenue.This budget became a reference point to other states and rubbed off on them. Those who lack financial intelligence like Anih have been going about claiming the people would be overtaxed. It is simplistic to think that all there is to the mobilization of domestic revenue is taxing. At any rate, it is a civic obligation for taxable heads to pay their taxes. Nonetheless, the Mbah Administration merely increased the tax base, leaving the rate untouched. But then, Mbah has creatively charted other financial models such as the activation of dormant assets, other revenue yielding projects like the New Enugu City, and the housing projects as mentioned above. How on earth would Enugu State House of Assembly go through that budget of N521.5 billion and hesitate to approve it to satisfy opposition politics? It took the house two weeks to review the budget, and finding it unprecedentedly good passed it expeditiously that Enugu may run on the path of economic prosperity.

One thing Anih and his likes do not know is that though the government has arms, the arms constitute the unit. The legislature and the judiciary are a part of the Mbah Administration. The legislature as a part is also one irrespective of party affiliations. It takes good leadership to weld the arms of government together in pursuit of the common benefit of the people. This is one area where Governor Mbah should be commended. Mbah knows neither Jew nor Gentile. It is all about the people. He is minded to end poverty in the state, and poverty knows neither PDP nor Labour Party.

The members of the Enugu State House of Assembly deserve commendation for their show of maturity and selflessness in the handling of legislative matters in the interest of the state. The unity in the House is also a mark of good leadership on the part of the speaker, Rt. Hon. Uche Ugwu, with the support of such other members as the Deputy Speaker, Rt. Hon. Ezenta Ezeani, Hon Leonard Ezugwu, Hon. Ejike Eze, Hon Jane Eneh, Rt. Hon. Chima Obieze, Hon. Chukwuma Ekwueme, to mention no more.

So, if anything, the Enugu State House of Assembly is strong, united, effective and diligent in its legislative and oversight functions contrary to the claim of JohnPaul Anih and his team of destructive critics who desire a divided and rancourous assembly at war with the executive. Such will end in the vile imagination of misguided opposition politicians who nurse much evil in their hearts against the people and government of Enugu State.

Sunday Alumona wrote from Ofulonu, Nsukka

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