Let's Hear You Oh Ye Kwarans
In what may as well be the most densely legislative week in the history of the legislature in Kwara State, the KWSHA has opened its doors to the generality of the public for two weeks between May 15 and 26, to voice their support, reservation, objection or even rejection of a total of 11 Bills that are being considered for passage.
We have always advocated for people's participation in the way their affairs are regulated. Yes, we are elected representatives of our people, but nothing is more pretentious than to claim we predict their preferences or have superior knowledge.
When those 11 Bills become laws, they become binding on every individual. We shall not choose one rational view over another until we give consideration to all contending views and give reasons for such choice.
I therefore urge experts in various aspects of the Bills, contractors, artisans, religious and community leaders as well as politicians of the ruling party and various factions of opposition parties to let us hear from them. This is no time for partisanship, let us join hands to midwife good governance in our dear State.
Today, our contractors complain that the 15% mobilisation fee is too small to fund movement of their equipment to sites or for initial importation and other logistics, thereby causing delays to overall completion of important projects. The Public Procurement Bill is considering, among others, raising mobilisation fee to between 30% and 50%. We need contractors, project managers and practitioners to guide us. Because the Assembly has vowed not to allow increase in tax rate for the time being, the Internal Revenue Service is struggling to maximise its collectability and wants to be able to move, under the Revenue Court Amendment Bill, ex parte against defaulters in order to be able to seal up their premises without the current delay.
The Urban and Regional Planning and Development Bill should be interesting to home owners and developers. This is a fallout of the experience of the Assembly with strong cabals in the planning and development industry. The Eighth Assembly has tried to control illegal petrol filling stations and other illegal changes to land users but we have realised the weakness in our laws. One lasting solution is to repeal existing laws and enact a new stronger one. Prospective developers, filling station and corner shop builders may be able to convince Kwarans otherwise; we need to know whether or not they are in the majority. Another remarkable aspect of this Bill is that it will complement the People With Disabilities Bill just passed on the 10th of May to enrich the lives of those people. If majority of Kwarans support us, this Bill must become law before the new Government Secretariat complex included in the 2017 Budget and other new buildings are constructed. The Ajase-Ipo Vocational Centre is completed without these facilities but our concern is future public buildings. The Bill seeks to mandate developers of government and public or commercial buildings to incorporate conveniences, access for wheelchair or parking and other facilities for people with disability.
And of course, our signature law, the most revolutionary law in the history of criminal justice in Nigeria is the Administration of Criminal Justice Bill. Your Speaker single handedly sponsored this Law to apply across federal courts in Nigeria during his days at the National Assembly. My colleagues at KWHA also supported me when we invited the 36 State Speakers to Ilorin where we all agreed to accelerate the passage of the Bill. Having studied all the developments and interpretations of the Law by different courts across the country including the Supreme Court, Kwara is now ready to enact the Law in its newest and most progressive version.
Furthermore, Abubakar Sola Saraki wants to include Hon. Attorney-General of the State as a member of its Governing Council. Other Bills concern hoteliers, hospitality and tourism industry, licensing for quarry and industrial goods and levy for manufacturing processing.
I urge Kwarans to take a look at what Bills they have interest or expertise most, give us written submissions by hard or soft copy and attend the public hearings for further elaboration. Copies of the Bills are available with the Clerk of the Assembly or at:
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Rt. Hon. Dr. Ali Ahmad