BY JIMITOTA ONOYUME
THE newly constituted Rivers State House of Assembly is entirely made up of members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). It was like that in the previous assembly. The former Speaker, Right Honourable, Tonye Harry was not lucky to retain his position as speaker this time, rather it went to Honourable Otelema Amachree.
The new Speaker, who spoke to some newsmen at a private dinner hosted in his honour by one of his friends in Port Harcourt assured that the House would not be a rubber stamp assembly. He also dismissed insinuations in some quarters that he was handpicked as speaker by Governor Rotimi Amaechi. According to him, he was voted by members because of the confidence they reposed in him.
Amachree said he would strive to take the House to the height Amaechi got it to when he was speaker. It would be recalled that Amaechi who is now governor of the state was two-time Speaker of the assembly. He was also Chairman of Forum of Speakers in the country, a body that was very visible.
The Speaker, has been in the House since 1999, also said that his assembly would work with the state governor to achieve the best for Rivers people.
The Assembly is yet to fully swing into action. At press time the new Speaker was still familiarising himself with staff and other structures within the assembly.
One major thing that most members of the House were taken on during the last election was constituency projects. Though the legislators have consistently maintained that they only nominate projects for the Ministry of Works to handle in their constituencies, their constituents believe they were part of the execution of the projects.
In some of the constituencies, electorates took on their legislators, accusing them of diverting funds earmarked for the projects in their constituency. This is one issue the Otelema administration as Speaker would strive to address. The issue has pitched some constituents against their legislators.
It is not clear at the moment if there would by any friction between the House and the state executive but Amacchree during his chat with newsmen at the private dinner ruled out such. According to him, since the governor was a Speaker he would do everything possible to avoid such frictions.
At the moment, the new assembly is preparing to commence proceedings and expectations are high. How the Assembly would handle the issue of N18,000 minimum wage for workers in the state and other sundry matters would speak volumes.