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Rt HON Mark Esset on Routine Oversight Function

Rt HON Mark Esset on Routine Oversight Function

Visits Abak, Eket, Ibesikpo Asutan, Ibiono Ibom, Ikot Ekpene, Nsit Atai and Nsit Ubium,

Within the Nigerian context, Local Government is the third tier of government closer to the grassroots with original aims of not only drawing government closer to their doorsteps but also delivering dividends of democray in conjunction of the State character to their benefit.
Recently, House Committee on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Akwa Ibom State Legislature, which has Rt. Hon. Mark Esset, member representing Nsit Atai State Constituency as the Chairman embarked on a constitutional backed assignment: oversighting the activities of Local Government Chairmen in their various Local Government Councils, across the State.
Local Government Councils visited during the maiden visit were: Ibiono Ibom, Ikot Ekpene, Abak, Ibesikpo/Asutan, Nsit Ubium, Eket and Nsit Atai Local Government Areas. 
Discoveries by the committee during the visit has it that most Local Government Chairmen are driving personal visions away from that of the present administration which anchors on purposeful leadership and people oriented governance.
In a general verdict, the Committee condemned in strong terms high level of nonchalant attitudes portryed by most Local Government Chairmen and deemed them irresponsible for propelling the affairs of the Council while he commended those striving to better the lots of the people at the Local Government areas.
Being the first point of call, with no sight of the Council Chairman in view, the committee members were heraled with overgrown grass, conducive for well feed reptiles took over the environment thanks to poor or no sanitation of the council.
After assessment of facilities within the council, the committee members also attended and observed special legislative plenary session of the Council presided by the leader, Hon. Enobong Ekong.
Questioning the rationale behind the unkempt working environment in the council by members of the Committee, the Local Government legislative leader, Counsellors and the Head service pointed at paucity of funds as the major challenge of the council. 
“We just finished our oversight function here in Ibiono Ibom Local Government Council, we have interacted with the Head of Service, we met with the Councillors in session and having moved around the environment, you can see things for yourself that it is not a welcome development here”. The Committee observed. 
However, the Committee advised for significant upgrading of sanitation exercise within the council premises for a conducive working environment for both the chairman and staffs.
COMMITTEE’S VERDICT: ” Ibiono Ibom Local Government Council is not a pleasing sight for the seat of Government of a Local Government Area.
The committee arrived at Ikot Ekpene Council where the Council’s Chairman was equally not available in office.
The committee chairman disclosed the purpose of the oversight function is bent on assessing effective implementation of government policies and programs to the benefits of those at the grassroot as the closest form of government to the people. 
Mark Esset while inspecting Ikot Ekpene cenotaph which was covered by grassess, lamented on the reckless abandonment of government properties by the council boss. 
COMMITTEE’S VERDICT: Ikot Ekpeme Local Government Council needs improved maintanace culture and dedication.
Similarly the case was not different in Abak Local government as the Chairman of the Council was not on seat at the time of visit to the Council.
Welcoming the retinue to the Council, the Council Secretary and Head of Service itemised some of their challenges to include lack of Legislative Chambers, paucity of funds for completion of ongoing projects among others challenges.
After moving around the council’s facilities, the Committee described the scenerio as being unfortunate, demeaning and an eyesore.
“What is happening and what we want to achieve is that there must be a departure from what has been the order in time past. The House of Assembly will assist the Governor and the government of Akwa Ibom State to ensure that the effort towards making the impacts of Government felt by citizens is being fully implemented.
“With what we have seen here in Abak Local Government Council, We can rightly say that there is no Government in Abak Local Government.
“It is unfortunate, it is dishertening and it is very very worrisome. 
With what we have seen, as a committee we will get to House of Assembly and report same in no distance time, you will here from us”
COMMITTEE’S VERDICT: There is no Government in Abak Local Government Area.
Arriving Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government Council, the Chairman of the Committee, Rt. Hon. Mark Esset, member representing Nsit Atai State Constituency, while setting the tone of the visit said: “This is the House committee on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, we are here on oversight function to Local Government Areas as part of our Legislative functions empowered us by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“This routine inspection is not only enshrined in the Constitution but It is there in the standing order of the House”
The Committee commended Chairman, Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government Area, Rt. Hon. Slyvester George for being present at the council during the time of the visit and for also keying into the completion agenda of the present administration and living up the vision, dreams and aspirations of electorates at the third thier of government through, efficient, effective and purposeful leadership in the area.
The Chairman of the Committee and other members of the Committee after being led round facilities, offices and environment of the council by the Chairman of the Council, adjudged Ibesikpo Asutan as the most serene Local Government Area so far visited in the State by the Committee.
The Committee lauded the council chairman in his modest achievements in the council.  
“Congratulations for being around in your office as the only chairman we visited to have recieved members of the committee from the House of Assembly into his council.
“We have seen your efforts in keeping the vicinity clean and tidy, it is highly commendable.
“Local Government administration is the closest Government to the grassroot and impact of Government is felt through the Local Government. 
“Be that as it may, few observations we have made here are; delapidated walls and non generation of IGR. So, we urged you to tackle this lapses for the good of the people.
“At this point, by our assessment and judgement, we have come, we have seen and we want to encourage you to keep up the good work”. Hon. Esset on behalf of the Committee lauded.
Earlier on, the Chairman, Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government Council, during questions and answer session with the State Legislators: encapsulated, construction of pipe borne water projects in the two clans of the area, Ibesikpo amd Asutan, respectively as projects embarked by his administration.
Hon. George also pledged revamping pipe borne water within the coucil premises, giving the council a deserving fac-lift through renovations and painting of structures as well as doubling up efforts in maintaining a clean and conducive working environment for effectively service delivery. 
He also mentioned paucity of funds as one of the challenges of the council even as he promised attaining giants strides to the benefit of Ibesikpo Asutan people before the end of his tenure in Office.
Similarly, upon inquiry, the Head of Service, Ibesikpo Asutan State Local Government Area disclosed that the Council has a total number of 480 staff strength.
Also, Rt. Hon. Nse Essien, Member representing Onna State Constituency and Chief Whip of the House and Member representing Ibesikpo Asutan State Constituency, Rt. Hon. Aniekan Uko and other members of the Committee took turns in lauding the strides of Hon. George and charged him to maintain the tempo
COMMITTEE’S VERDICT: “We have seen your efforts in keeping the vicinity clean and tidy, it is highly commendable, keep up the good work”.
Arriving Nsit Ubium, atmosphere at the Council headquaters was as calm as that of a public holiday with white papers and other waste materials littered everywhere.
The team were received by the Head of Service, Mr. Clifford Ubak. The committee after their assessment demanded to know the number of projects initiated under the incumbent council chairman. Responding, Mr. Ubak said renovation of the council Secretariat to give it a new face-lift and painting of the perimeter fencing are the only projects. But, he claimed ignorance of not being aware of the actual cost estimate for the council perimeter fencing project, stating that he is yet to receive any document relating to such project.
At the Council, the Vice Chairman, Secretary, members of the legislature and supervisors were all absent. Nsit Ubium Council has a total of 292 staffs strength, while only 37 out of the 292 were physically present during the assesment tour.
Reacting to the HoS claims of not having detailed knowledge of the perimeter fencing project, the deputy Chief Whip and member representing Onna State Constituency, Rt. Hon. Nse Essien, advised all the Head of Service and directors of works to always inquire from the respective Local government chairmen source of funds for any project approved to be embarked upon. He said this will help in improving transparency and fund prudency.
“Your chairman, VC, Secretary, Councillors and supervisors, all the directors are not in their offices. And with what we have seen which is physical, the environment of Nsit Ubium Local Government Area is an eyesaw, its very very disheartening that a government that is closer to the people, that tells the image of the local government can be in this dilapidated state. Gentlemen of the press, if you can look behind us, what ought to have been a signage of this local government and the flag is not there; this is very dsiapoint”. Mark Esset added.
COMMITTEE’S VERDICT: The situation here is an eyesore. There is no sign of Government in Nsit Ubium Local Government Council. 
On arrival at the council secretariat, the committee chairman announced that they came for an oversight function to enable his committe ascertain the level of development, projects initiated as well as challenges faced by the council.
The committee went round to inspect the newly constructed and commissioned staff canteen, mini buses transport scheme, waste disposal bins,  as well as the council environment.
The VC and Head of Service also informed the committee of the ongoing legacy project (2,000 capacity hall), initiated by the executive chairman, Mr. Frank Archibong;  but, due to time factor, the committee were unable to visit the project site for inspection.
“Comparing to other local Government we have inspected so far, it is obvious that in Eket LGA, staffs are seen on duty. Considering the staffs strength you have told us, and their numbers here in the time book;  i must say it is commendable. So, i want to appreciate the staffs in Eket local government for being committed and faithful to their responsibilities justifying their salaries which is always paid.
“Looking round the country, you will agree with me that His Excellency Deacon Udom Emmanuel is one governor that does not joke with workers welfare in terms of prompt payment of salaries. Here in Eket Local Government; you have just demonstrated that you are really happy with what Governor Udom Emmanuel is doing by being on your duty post. This House of Assembly Committee on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs sincerely commend you for this”.
COMMITTEE’S VERDICT: “Eket Local Government has embarked on projects that shall out lived this present administration”. 
Looking at what was seen on ground, it is very possible for one to believe that “Nsit Atai” is not in existence as a functional local government.
The state of the council environment is in total mess. unsafe for staffs, councillors etc. The whole place seem to be a breeding zone for reptiles.
Though, its been under renovation for about a year plus now. And considering the pace of work done and the amount said to have been released, I doubt if the renovation project will be completed without external supports and funding from individuals and organizations and this is the constituency of the committee chairman, Rt. Hon. Mark Esset.
“Your council chairman is not on duty, the vice chairman is not on duty, your directors are not on duty, in fact; the entire serene of the environment is unkept. This is embarrassing.
“Madam, (HoS), are you telling us that you have not been receiving allocation meant for #Nsit Atai LGA? This committee will have to revisit this LGA because this apologetic state of LGC we are seeing does not reflect government existence.
“We are not happy with what we have seen, the level of job, project cost you cannot even say. we are not satisfied with what we are seeing here on ground. Staffs are not on duty, this clearly shows that the council is not in existence. This is so sad”.
COMMITTEE’S VERDICT: Is there any Local Government in existence in Nsit Atai Local Government?
Members of the Committee on the retinue were: Rt Hon Aniefiok Dennis – member representing Etinan state constituency, Rt Hon Aniekan Nyong Uko – member representing Ibesikpo Asutan State Constituency, Rt Hon Nse Essien – member representing Onna State Constituency Rt Hon Uduak Ududoh, member representing Ikot Abasi /Eastern Obolo state constituency.
Others are:  Rt Hon Asuquo Achibong, Member representing Uruefong Oruko State Constituency, Rt. Hon Godwin Ekpo – member representing Ibiono Ibom state constituency, Hon Frank Okon, Member representing Mbo State constituency, Hon Charity Ido,  member representing Ukanafun state constituency, Rt Hon Effiong Bassey, member representing Oron /Udung Uko State Constituency.
Also, yesterday Monday, July 8, 2019 the Committee further embarked on another round of visit to Itu, Uyo, Uruan Local Government Councils as at the time of filling this report.

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