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ISSUES ABATTOIR: Lessons From The On Going Sack Of Commissions In Rivers

IKUINYI-OWAJI IBANIThe many macabre dance or call it entertainment on the floor of the Rivers State House of Assembly by some respected elderstatesmen in the state who were assigned responsibilities aimed at moving the state forward was better watched, witnessed than heard, as their respective sack from offices did not only attracted ill comments but as believed by some to be witch-hunting.

The men who ought to show good examples of leadership and management were either compromised or have failed not considering their age, posterity and off course fame.

It is worrisome that the sacked Commissions could not live to their expectation because of personal interest that beclouds the quest for the development of the state and its people.

Just on Tuesday 16th June, the Rivers State House of Assembly had resolved and empowered the governor Chief Barr. Nyesom Ezenwo Wike to dissolve the State Civil Service Commission occasioned on its breach of the constitution which establishes it.

Chairman of that commission, Sir Ngor Martyns-Yellowe while appeared on the Assembly with his Commissioners told the Assembly that there were minor and major employment, added that since he assumed office in September 2011 he had only employed workers in 2013 for the state.

But contrary to Yellowe’s claim, a commissioner in the commission, Chief Godwin Bebe Okpabi told the august Assembly that they did employed in 2014.

Members of that commission who were not in unity equally told the Assembly that had neither disciplined any erring worker nor conducted any promotion and confirmation. Their inconsistencies in presentation occasioned on their misconduct had earned them sack recommendation.

Similarly last Monday June 8th, 2015 what was described as improper and illegal constitution as well as lack of prudence in financial management were recorded and adduced as some of the reasons responsible for the sack of the Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission, RISEC, while failure in administration and breach of constitutional provisions were however spotted as reasons for the sack of Rivers State Judicial Service Commission, RSJSC as recommended by the 8th Rivers State House of Assembly.

The Rivers State House of Assembly, RSHA, in its 3rd legislative sitting held on Monday 8th June, 2015 had held that both Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission and Rivers State Judicial Service Commission were guilty of the laws that established them as well as the oath of office and allegiance which its members were sworn to.

Chairman of RISEC, Professor Augustine Ahiazu and his commissioners, as well as their counterpart in the Judicial Service Commission led by Barr. Mrs. Kate Barikhana and members appeared before the Assembly on invitation to interface and interact on their respective activities and mode of operations.

In his presentation, Chairman of RISEC and former vice chancellor of the Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Professor Augustince Ahiazu who forgot other functions, said the main function of the commission was the conduct of elections into local government councils in the state. “Our main duty is just elections”, Ahiazu said, added that the commission was independent but not financially as it depends on funding from the state government.

Professor Ahiazu who further stated that in 2012 on assumption of office with his commissioners, he inherited some fund from his predecessor, could not disclosed such amount and again admitted that such fund were not retired into the state consolidated account.

Furthermore, the commission admitted it received Two-hundred and forty million naira (N240,000,000.00) from the state in 2013 out of which Twenty-three million naira (N23,000,000.00) was for overhead cost, but could not account for its expenditure.

Ahiazu, on the floor of the RSHA revealed his commission received One billion and Eight hundred million naira (N1.8b) as 2015 budget against Four billion and Seven hundred million naira (N4.7b) they budgeted and applied for, admitted that the commission sent her budget and also had their votes after the 2015 appropriation budget of the state was passed.

On his admittance of spending monies not captured in the 2015 appropriation budget of the state, Ahiazu noted that he can spent any money given to him by the state governor either captured or not in the budget.

Not minding his knowledge of the procurement act, Professor Ahiazu shocked the Assembly when he admitted procuring whatever he wanted without due processes and without advertisement whatsoever before such procurement was made.

However, the house having had an exhaustive moment of questioning members to ascertain facts and after debate, resolved to empower the state governor to dissolve or remove the chairman and members of RISEC from office.

Proposing the motion to mandate the governor to sack the Commission, leader of the house Hon. Martins Amaewhule maintained that going by the gravity of misconduct perpetrated by the Professor Ahiazu’s led commission, they deserve not to spend another minute in office.

The motion which was seconded by the deputy leader Hon. Loolo Denebari without any counter while voting had no abstention but one (1) member voted against while 29 members voted in favour of the motion to mandate the governor to dissolve the commission.

Similarly, the Rivers State Judicial Service Commission (RSJSC) had revealed that former attorney general of the state Barr. Nworgu Boms had ordered the closure of courts for 356 days in Rivers State.

Secretary of the commission, Barr. Mrs. Kate Barikhana who made the revelation while she and members of the commission appeared before the Rivers State House of Assembly last Monday, admitted that they were not working but were being paid salaries for the period of absenteeism of duty.

According to Kate Barikhana, the commission took all directions from former Attorney general, Nworgu Boms to inflict pains on the citizens, explaining that she has on powers to mediate on the crisis or at least advise against such action but acted on the script and directives of the former Attorney general and commission for justice.

From the foregoing, it is the view of Issues Abattoir that those entrusted with responsibilities should be diligent in carrying out their duties as perfection is hard to come by.

Again, truth is sacrosanct either one is found guilty or not the truth should always be said. The chairmen of all the sacked three commissions were economical of the truth, intended to mislead the Assembly and entire state on their mode of operations.

It is observed that while he who pays the piper detects its tune, those vested with responsibilities should endeavour to play their constitutional role, that if done would at least earn them respect and exonerates them from any level of embarrassment such as meted to the sacked commissions.

It therefore behooves of those incoming chairmen and members of the State Commissioners and boards understand what they are called to do and do it to the best of their ability without molesting the constitutional provisions.

That, if done would save the State in general and as well bestow on the individuals the needed respect as elders statesmen who undoubtedly years for the development of the State.###


With James Mgboineme


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