The midnight fire of October 10, 2022 left the chambers of the Kogi State House of Assembly in ruins, forcing the lawmakers to make do with makeshift arrangements to continue their constitutional duties, Daily Trust Saturday reports.
It’s not the best of times for members of the Kogi State House of Assembly following the fire incident which destroyed their legislative chamber.
The fire incident had thrown up a challenge of plenary venue for the state lawmakers since then.
The lawmakers now rely on a makeshift arrangement to keep the business of the House running.
Deputy Speaker of the House, Alfa Momoh Rabiu, said the burning of the plenary chamber of the House has created a constitutional challenge to the lawmakers.
He noted that it was a difficult task for members to shift business of the House from the state assembly complex to another place, saying the lawmakers have to push on, despite its attendant “hitches, hiccups and inconveniences.”
“To keep the business of the house going, the state was forced to put up a makeshift arrangement for the lawmakers in order to function till repair work is effected on the burnt chamber.
“We received Governor Yahaya Bello in the makeshift place at the Speaker’s lodge in Lokoja, where he delivered his 2023 budget presentation to the lawmakers.”
Hon. Rabiu added, “If we have to wait, it will take us for months because the money for the rehabilitation of the burnt chamber is not available at the moment, as it has to be budgeted for. And that will keep us out of our constitutional role for months.”
Until the Speaker’s lodge was restructured temporarily for their plenary session, the state legislators were holding their plenary at Reverton Hotel in Lokoja.
Notable issues like the controversial BUA land deal with the state government and Obajana cement tax evasion crises were handled from their base then at Reverton Hotel.
Thereafter, the lawmakers moved over to the Speaker’s lodge where Governor Yahaya Bello presented his 2023 appropriative bill to the House for consideration.
According to Yahaya Bello, “for the first time since I started presenting budgets to this House in 2016, I am doing so outside the purpose-built facilities of the Kogi State House of Assembly.
“As the whole world knows, your chambers at the House of Assembly Complex which this administration reconstructed and furnished at great cost lie in ruins.
“Over a month after the incident, we are still working to unravel the origin of that fire which is as mysterious as it is suspicious,” Bello said.
Governor Bello vowed to fish out the hoodlums behind the ugly incident that has resulted in a lack of plenary venue for the lawmakers, adding “until the cause is known and culprits apprehended, we shall neither act rashly nor speculate wildly.”
The governor assured the lawmakers that the sad incident would soon be a thing of the past as he was making efforts to ensure the burnt chamber is repaired to ease their deliberations at plenary.
“Let me make an undertaking that your destroyed chambers will be built back better and that you will soon be able to sit there again to discharge your duties,” Bello assured.
According to the Speaker of Kogi State House of Assembly, Mathew Kolawole, the challenge posed by the unexpected fire would be overcome as the lawmakers have moved on with a makeshift arrangement to keep the business of the House in progress.
The Speaker who spoke through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Femi Odugbemi, said the lawmakers did not allow the fire incident to overwhelm them and impede their legislative duties.
Equally, the state commissioner of Information, Evangelist Kingsley Fanwo, said the state government is committed to renovating the burnt Assembly Complex within the shortest time.
“At the moment, we are looking at the funding; and we have also been looking at the cost. It is our utmost desire to see them back at their chambers where they will find it more convenient to legislate for the good of our dear state.
Comrade Hamza Aliyu, the CEO of Initiative for GrassRoot Advancement (IGRA), said the resources invested in the rehabilitation of the Speaker’s lodge to hold the plenary of the state legislators temporarily would have been used for the renovation of the burnt chamber of the House of Assembly.
Comrade Aliyu stated that the Speaker’s lodge lacks the necessary space for legislative business.