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Assembly Lacks Power To Stop Ayade From Making Appointment - Speaker

Rt. Hon. John Gaul Lebo, Speaker, Cross River State House of Assembly

Amidst criticism over the number of political appointments made by Governor Ben Ayade, Speaker of the Cross River State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. John Gaul Lebo has said that the assembly lacks the power to decide the number of appointments to be made.

Hon. Lebo who said this yesterday during an interactive session with members of the Association of Cross River Online Journalists (ACROJ) in Calabar said that the constitution only empowers the assembly to screen and not to regulate the numbers to be appointed.

He emphasized that the constitution recognized only three sets of appointments, the Commissioners, Special Advisers and Board members and among the three only Commissioners and some board are expected to appear physically for screening by the legislature while others is through request by the Governor.

According to him, "We don't have the powers to stop the Governor from making appointment. There's no section of the constitution that gives us such powers. We can only screen and even in the screening, only Commissioners and some board like if the Governor appoint a chairman of board of Internal Revenue Service, he'll appear before us for screening. But in other appointments like the Special Adviser, the Governor can only request our approval to appoint. Only him can determine the number of ministries to have".

Speaking about the budget, the lawmaker also said that "There's no law that empowers the assembly to cut down a budget presented by the Governor. There are many types of budget and if you listen to the Governor during his inauguration, he said it clearly that his administration will run a deficit budget because of some of the projects he will want to embark that the state may not be able to fund.

"For instance, if the cost of building a superhighway is N200 billion naira, why should you now put N10 billion because you want to run away from having a high amount at the end of the day?, the only disadvantage with a deficit budget is that when you raise people's hope high and then drop it again if you're on able to achieve your target. I understand it's a new model in Cross River but there's nothing wrong with it".

Responding to question on the house position on local government autonomy, the Speaker said that the assembly deferred the bill to ensure some grey areas are addressed even as he assured that they will vote in support of the bill.

"We have not voted on local government autonomy. We deferred it because we want to address not just the financial autonomy but also administrative autonomy. If there's a financial autonomy without administrative autonomy then there will be serious problem because Chairmen of council may not be able to do anything apart from collecting allocation. The Head of local government service commission will still be appointed by the Governor.

"As it is now, the local government has no responsibility of paying salaries, the revenue item left for the local government is television tax. Only eight local government councils can pay salary in Cross River. So, we need the joint account in Cross River. What we want is devolution of power, we want the local government to be given power but help us ask the National Assembly why they have refused to grant power devolution".
Politics 5322821775624752005

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