MONDAY 3RD TO WEDNESDAY 5TH JUNE 2019
Honourable Members-Elect, Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. It is my special privilege to be attending and delivering the Keynote at this Orientation Programme organized for you as Members-Elect of the 9th Imo State House of Assembly.
2. I wish to congratulate each one of you, on having secured your seat in the House of Assembly of our great State. I know, as you do, that it is no mean feat to win an election in Nigeria, particularly, in this part of the country. The legislative arm, where you have been elected to serve, is a very important one that is crucial for the development of our State.
3. Your election into the Imo State House of Assembly marks a new phase in your personal, professional and political journey. A phase that presents exciting opportunities; an opportunity to serve, to take critical decisions that affects the lives of your constituents and contribute overall to improved governance in Imo State. Your membership of this Assembly also presents an opportunity for you to learn, acquire new skills and enhance your knowledge in profound ways that equip you for even greater leadership responsibilities in the future.
4. This orientation programme presents one of such learning opportunities- to begin to get to know one another as colleagues in the Assembly and to also learn about your powers, roles and duties. I believe that the orientation sessions will form an important part of your preparation as you take on the onerous task of lawmaking, representation and oversight.
5. The opportunities that your legislative position offers may also appear daunting as it is exciting and as challenging as it is empowering. I say this, because you will be assuming your position as Members of this Legislative Assembly at a very critical time when the State is at the cross roads of seeking recovery from an era of arbitrariness to the new direction that we are set to go, of order, due process and respect for the Rule of Law.
6. Dear Honourable Members, it would not be an exaggeration for me to say that we are starting off this new administration following a pall of disaffection and disillusionment of Ndi Imo following the undemocratic antecedents of the immediate past administration. Looking ahead at all we need to do, our task appears indeed daunting. Yet, perhaps, this could turn out to be the best time to lead our people. It is often said that “Challenges are what makes life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.” Consequently, although the challenges of reconstructing our badly battered State and reviving the hopes of our people are huge, they are not insurmountable. This is because our people are resilient, strong, hard-working, and like citizens of any other State, need visionary and transformative leaders that can restore pride and confidence in our State.
7. In my inaugural speech, I made a commitment to the people of Imo to do the following, among others:
i. Ensure qualitative education for our children and set up an Education Trust Fund
ii. Tackle poverty and unemployment
iii. Prioritise job and wealth creation
iiii. Ensure massive investment in agriculture
v. Provide good quality healthcare for citizens; for pregnant women, children under 5 and senior citizens
vi. Review land allocations by the immediate past government
vii. Equip women and youths with resources, microcredit, skills training and entrepreneurship programmes to ensure productive undertakings
viii. Address the special needs of women, children and persons with disabilities
ix. Provide an enabling environment to make Imo a preferred destination for business, ICT, entertainment, culture and tourism
x. Review and overhaul existing state security infrastructure with a view to improving the safety and security of our people
8. No doubt, some of these initiatives will require legislative backing and funding. I believe Ndi Imo will want to see the House of Assembly tackle the issues that these plans seek to address. I will therefore urge you to join me to deliver on these commitments for the benefit of the people.
9. It is interesting to note that our administration or our tenures begin at a time when State Houses of Assembly have been constitutionally granted financial autonomy and independence. This particular Constitution amendment, which came into force just recently, was one of the many reforms I and my colleagues had championed during my time as Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives. At the time, the Committee on Review of the 1999 Constitution, which I headed, worked tirelessly to ensure that this amendment was adopted by the National Assembly and State Assemblies. Our ultimate goal was to adopt reforms that would give room for a stronger and more effective legislature and in effect, a more inclusive and participatory government. Incidentally, today, I find myself on the other side, that is – in the executive arm. However, I sincerely hope that this House of Assembly, as the first beneficiaries of this law, will utilize this new found independence efficiently and effectively. Furthermore, I believe that the people you represent expect that in exercising your powers, you will carry out your duties in a manner that commands respect from them and from other arms of government.
10. During the same period in the House of Representatives, we had also adopted a Legislative Agenda to guide our work. This agenda document encapsulated the policy thrust of the House of Representatives. Without intruding on the independence of this Assembly to determine its own procedure and mode of operations, I dare say that the Legislative Agenda was instrumental in setting a direction for the 7th House of Reps, as well as providing benchmarks for measuring our progress. In this regard, it is important to keep in mind that those you represent will be keeping tabs on your work whether or not you have an agenda and after 4 years, will be presenting their scorecard of your achievements or lack of it thereof.
11. In order to achieve our goals and meet the aspirations of Ndi Imo, we must work closely together. As always, I reaffirm my commitment to working with you while at the same time, asserting the need for respect for the principle of Separation of Powers so as to ensure efficiency in governance.
12. Honourable members-elect, we have our work cut out for us. To uphold the principles of democracy, to meet the expectations of our people, and to act in the overall best interest of the well-being, and prosperity of Imo.
13. On this note, let me specially appreciate the persons who have worked to put this event together. I also commend the many Resource Persons here today, especially those who have travelled from outside the State to be with us here to share their knowledge. Some of them are former legislators who will be sharing their experiences. I encourage you therefore to take the opportunity of this Orientation Programme to learn and absorb as much as you can from their experiences. Overall, I hope you find the legislative work that you are embarking on engaging and rewarding.
14. I now have the singular honour and privilege to declare open the Orientation Programme for Members-Elect of the 9th Imo State House of Assembly.
15. I thank you for your kind attention and wish you fruitful deliberations. God bless Imo State. God bless Nigeria.
RT. HON EMEKA IHEDIOHA (CON)
Governor, Imo State