Kaduna State citizens Demand Meaningful Engagement, transparency and accountability In The Next Kaduna State House of Assembly

Yusuf Ishaku Goje

 The 34 seats in the Kaduna State House of Assembly, after the last supplementary election, will be occupied for the next four years by 23 members under the banner of the All Progressive Congress (APC), while 11 are from the opposition People's Democratic Party (PDP). 

Based on convention and numerical strength, the party with the highest membership, in this case the APC, is expected to produce the Speaker and other lead principal officers, barring any unlikely bi-partisan Machiavellian move that will lead to the emergence of the opposition.

Expectedly, having the Governor-elect's party in majority in the Legislative arm will lead to smooth sail of his SUSTAIN agenda. Usually, the cooperation of the Legislative arm is key to enhancing the capacity of the Executive to deliver good governance and inclusive development to the people.

However, on the flip side, it could lead to a rubber stamp Legislative arm with very limited scrutiny over Executive bills, including appropriations, poor or zero oversight of budget implementation and service delivery by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) as well as haphazard review and follow-up on recommendations of the audit of public accounts.

Members of the opposition are usually muscled into submission by excluding them from juicy committees or sanctioned by suspension when they push too hard. This was evident in the outgoing Assembly. More disturbingly, less than 10% of bills passed where sponsored by private members. Nonetheless, commendably, the outgoing Assembly will be remembered for opening its doors to the civil society during appropriation public hearings.

Despite passing the Legislative Finances (Control and Management) law on the 15th of October,  2021, which gave the Assembly financial autonomy, it is not clear whether the outgoing Assembly benefitted from the law and exercised its independence in checking and balancing the Executive arm.

By this law, the Assembly, subject to the State Finance (Control and Management) Law, now has powers to manage and control monies received into the account, with the Speaker as the Accounting Officer. The Auditor General of the State has been mandated by the law to annually audit the account of the Assembly.

To ensure the effective control and management of the funds, the law provides that a Fund Management Board chaired by the Speaker is to be established. Equally, important to the activation of the law is the passage of the Kaduna State Account Allocation Committee bill was passed into law in October, 2021. 

Hopefully, the incoming Assembly will be bold enough to leverage on the law to assert its independence. The major control the Executive arm has over the Legislative arm is that of finance. The legislative arm has to do the bidding of the Executive before they get releases. 

Now with this law, we hope the members will go beyond party loyalty or allegiance to godfathers to promote, protect and advance the interest of their constituents, who are their real masters. If the members will carry out their legislative responsibilities, there will be no need for most of the interventions of the civil society.

This means as citizens we need to intensify our engagement with the Kaduna State House of Assembly to demand for transparency, accountability and value for money in carrying out their legislative duties.

Lets engage, ask the right questions and hold the government accountable.

Yusuf Ishaku Goje

Active Citizen

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