By Edem Darlington
Governor Ben Ayade last Friday presented the 2022 appropriation bill to the State house of assembly for consideration.
The governor who obviously seem to be aware of how comical his budget titling has become to Cross Riverians and indeed Nigerians did not disappoint. After his ‘sweet talk’ he majestically walked away from the podium, to lay the budget before the floor of the house, but was quickly reminded that he has failed to mention the title of the 2022 budget.
He quickly walked back to the podium, beaming with smiles. He then announced, “the title of the budget is…stopped and laugh, the entire house joined him sheepishly.
Then the Governor resumed, “the title of this year’s budget is…. Budget of Conjugated Agglutination” at that point everyone dived into a frenzy of laughter, including Mr. Governor himself. I just stood there gazing and feeling very odd.
In any case, I do not have issues with the budget christening. Ben Ayade can choose to call his budget anything, even if he wants to name it after my little rabbit at home or the monkeys in Boki forest. After all budget christening and implementation are entirely two different things.
But my focus is about the fellow that is called “Mr. Speaker”. The head of the legislature and the leader of the 9th State house of assembly, Eteng Jones Williams.
I listened to Mr. Eteng Williams make his speech during the budget presentation and arrived at a simple conclusion. That When you marry a monkey for his wealth, the money goes but the monkey remains.
As a state, we have been married to this lowness because of political affinity, it appears we will have to live with the reality for a very long time.
Eteng Williams is perhaps the worse assembly Speaker in the history of the State.
If we must blame Governor Ayade for anything, then the greater blame should go to the Speaker and the entire house. Because you must attend to your business with the vendor in the market, and not to the noise of the market.
The house is constitutionally mandated to deal with deep issues of public governance. But it appears they are rather doing business with the noise in the market instead of dealing with the vendor.
One would have thought that the speaker would graciously leverage on the opportunity of the budget presentation to tell the governor some home truths, (even if he wanted to pretend). Inform the governor about disappointments with the level of implementation of previous budgets, observations during oversights, and then encourage the executive to double up their efforts in the next year implementation.
But no, the speaker did not enter the chambers with his manhood. After all the governor was going to be his special guest. Instead, he sang praises of the governor and even shamelessly said “most of the projects were 80% completed”
As if that was not enough, Mr. Eteng also acted as the spokesperson of the executive arm of government by saying that the Odukpani flyover, Calapharm and some others projects were near commissioning.
My advice to the speaker is to kindly go to Odukpani junction and repeat that statement and watch Cross Riverians greet him good morning in Mkpani language.
A wise man will never allow his stomach to make him useless. Eteng Williams oversights and superintendents over the dismantling of the economic pyramid of the State.
Record have shown that budget implementation in some MDAs for year 2021 were as low as 8%. And they blamed the #Endsars protest for it. What a joke!
The state audit report for year 2020 shows that about 25 MDAs did not submit their accounts for an average of 4 years, this is against the laws enacted by the same house.
The public is not aware of any head of MDA in the state that have been warned to sit up. We are not even aware of any legislative/executive engagement on budget implementation not to talk of the CSO/Media component.
In 2020 alone, the house of assembly led by Eteng Jones directed members to remain at home for more than three months, citing Covid-19 as an excuse. Yet they were all collecting their monthly salaries and allowances. Even though smart thinking heads of government were still meeting and conducting their activities virtually.
If the house members were up and doing in the discharge of their duties, more than half of the executive dysfunctionality we have witnessed would have been greatly minimized. But no, Eteng loves praises. He loves to sing.
Let me inform you Mr. Speaker that
A bird that flies off the earth and lands on an anthill is still on the ground.
I know that your excuse are many, but whatever it is, and from whatever point of order you are coming from, honorable speaker, let me inform you that, you are hereby ruled out of order sir.