Anambra State House Of Assembly – A Failed Legislative Institution

The 1999 Nigeria Constitution mandated three branches of government to ensure separation of power and maintain checks and balances. In Anambra State, there is the Executive (Governor Obi – APGA), legislative branch (law makers), and the judiciary. The current Anambra State House of Assembly is dominated by the PDP and has overwhelming numeric power to override the Governor’s

 veto, as well as dictate action agenda and under their own terms and conditions. In the face of this unparalleled political powers vested in the majority PDP in the legislative branch, in practice the most powerful person in the state government would be the Speaker of the House who is PDP. In the past four and half years, Anambra State has represented a laboratory of failed leaderships, public policies and bastion of corruption. The Obi Administration, in the sea of PDP controlled legislature, has singularly dictated what happens in Anambra State because the legislators abrogated their responsibilities and relegated the interests of the people they took oath to represent to the bottom river trash. In the process, the concept of checks and balances has been compromised in the buy out of the legislative branch by the executive and hence, everything that serves little or no public interests goes on unabated. Myself and a friend conducted investigative research to find out why the PDP legislators were not measuring up to the creed and why they played little or no role to get Professor Soludo elected and was told that the money floated by Governor Obi was irresistible and overwhelming. Go figure! 

Legislative Mandate:  PDP controls the Anambra State legislative apparatus. In theory and in practice, if the Anambra State Speaker of the House understands politics, he would actually be the most powerful politician in Anambra State instead of Governor Obi. Obi should be crawling to his feet. The Speaker has a veto-proof majority to wield undisputed power and with his troops behind him, the Speaker can manifest uncompromising freedom of action whenever it is apparent and imperative for him to do so, or as he sees fit. This is the truth. For example, the Speaker of the Anambra PDP-dominated House can hire his own staff in every area and formulate legislation and pass them and with their veto-proof votes, the Obi Administration has no choice but to sign it and implement the laws. If he doesn’t sign them, they will still become laws. Also, the legislature can decide not to approve Governor Obi’s budget as well as put an end to ANIDS, including denying the governor of his security votes. Yes, the House has the constitutional powers to do exactly what I just said. The House can replace the Obi Administration’ s budget with theirs. However, what is happening is that the separation of power is not effective in Anambra State because the Legislative Branch either did not know its function and responsibilities and extent of power, or has been compromised and corrupted. It is appalling that with PDP controlled House of Assembly in Anambra State, Governor Obi (APGA) is operating like a sacred cow in India. 

State Problems and Negligence:  Anambra State is beset with mammoth problems. Erosion is threatening to turn the state into a drain field and has consumed more than 20% of state lands; unemployment rate is more than 50% and still rising; education has become an exercise without character and substance; the environment has been neglected and erosion gullies have become waste disposal sites; natural habitats and farmlands are fast becoming extinction; health care system is on life support and more people are dying now than during the war time; youth despair and hopelessness is at an all time high; crimes and kidnapping have become lucrative enterprise for the first time in the history of our people; economic and community development is anemic at best. Compounding these problems is the fact that Governor Obi passed a law making himself the Sole Administrator of the 21 local governments and the House of Assembly accepted the initiative, a measure that has a negative and counterproductive punitive effect on community/economic development, planning and constructive urban development. Planning, design and development of communities and public infrastructure are lacking. In the face of these problems, Anambra State with its legislative branch still has no coherent pieces of legislation and public policies tailored towards addressing the compelling public challenges mentioned above. The resulting outcome of this inept and willful suspension of action and legislative responsibilities is a state that has become a sinking ship. It is disturbing that the Speaker of the House has chosen not to lead and help lay foundation for the rebirth of Anambra State. 

Performance Question & Next Steps:  The population of Anambra State is 4,182,000 and growing at an annual growth rate of 2.21%. The state is blessed with diverse resources – natural gas, the largest deposit in the country and the nation’s strategic reserve, oil, rivers, rich farmlands and fishing industry, enterprising citizens and well educated and accomplished professionals at home and in the Diaspora. Yet, the decision making machineries at all levels of government have been an epitome of failure upon failure. The Anambra State House of Assembly (HOA) by abrogating its duties has immensely contributed to the present day problems in Anambra State.  The 2011 National election is right around the corner and given the lackluster performance of the PDP legislators in Anambra State, the party should not re-nominate anyone of them for re-election. To do so would be to accept and internalize mediocrity and continued punitive assault on public good and good governance. These PDP legislators in Anambra State have not done any good for the public or the party; they have only served their own interests to the detriment of the governed and livability of Anambra State. 

The Obi Administration has been blamed for all that was wrong in Anambra State; however, it must be noted that the Anambra State House of Assembly is equally guilty of failed leadership in the first order for not making constructive use of its veto-proof majority to help elevate the people of Anambra State from their doldrums of poverty and misery, as well as make Anambra State a livable environment. Again, for these reasons outlined, they must not be re-nominated by PDP for the 2011 election. 

Alex Ikefuna