Delta Gets New Electoral Law, As Gov Okowa Signs Three Bills Into Law

BY FIDELIS EGUGBO/
ITEVEH EKPOKPOBE
AS the October exit date for chairmen and councillors of different local government councils in Delta State draws near, Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa has signed into law, the Delta State Independent National Electoral Commission (DSIEC) Bill.
The Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori, accompanied by his Deputy, Rt. Hon. Friday Osanebi, Clerk of the House, Mrs. Lyna Ochulor and other principal officers of the legislature, had presented the bill with two other bills, the Local Government Amendment Bill (2017) and the Administration of Criminal Justice Bill (2016) to the governor for assent yesterday at Government House, Asaba.
Governor Okowa, at the occasion which was witnessed by members of the State Executive Council, observed, “the signing into law of the DSIEC Bill 2017 is very important at this point in time; the law will strengthen the activities of the Delta State Independent Electoral Commission and I believe that with this action,, members of the commission will be appointed to take office for the smooth conduct of the local government elections.”
The governor, who lauded the vibrancy and cooperation of the Delta State legislators in making laws that will ensure good governance, cooperation, respect for rule of law and progressive society, added that his administration would continue to support local governments to offset their salary arrears.
Throwing more light on the situation with the local governments, the governor disclosed that while some of the local governments are heavily indebted to their staff as a result of having a lot of teachers and employees, there are some that are not owing salary arrears.
He said that efforts are on to ensure that only genuine workers earn salaries and called on the unions in the local governments to support the ongoing biometric exercise to weed out ghost workers from the system.
“We will continue to support the local government councils for them to pay salaries; allocation to local government councils is very low, which has made some of them to find it difficult to pay salaries,” he said, adding, “there are councils that are not owing salaries because their wage bill is low. I am aware that some councils have paid salaries up to date and we are working hard that only those who work are paid as there are many ghost workers.”
He reiterated that the essence of biometrics system introduced in the local governments was to ensure that those who are fraudulently receiving salaries are fished out and removed from the pay roll, which would enable the councils have more money to pay their staff salaries.
Rt. Hon. Oborovweri had told the governor that the bills passed through the rigorous process of different committees of the legislature, disclosing that it was a thing of joy that Delta State was among the very few states that have passed the Administration of Criminal Justice Bill into law.
As part of the new development, a seven-man list of nominees for appointment as Commissioners of the Delta State Independent Electoral Commission (DSIEC) was yesterday, received by the Delta State House of Assembly for screening and or confirmation.
The nominees are Chief Mike Ogbodu as Chairman, while Mr. Fredrick Oduje Ulakpa, Mr. Friday Edmund Siemode, Mr. James Eruorhevwameme Umukoro, Mr. Gregory Chukwuma Edeme, Light Oritseweyinmi Diden and Mrs. Yvonne Ovuevuo Wagbatsoma are nominated as members.
The names of the nominees were contained in a letter sent to the House by the Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa and read during plenary by the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori.
The list is following the passage of the Delta State Independent Electoral Commisson (DSIEC) Law, and the Local Government Law, and assent by the state governor.
According to the governor, the nomination was in exercise of the powers conferred on him by Section 198 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.
“I will be greatly appreciated if early action is taken, as usual, to place the names of the nominees before the honourable house for consideration and confirmation to enable me effect their appointments as required by the constitution,” he added.
The Majority Leader of the House, Hon. Tim Owhefere, moved that the letter be accepted and he was seconded by Hon. Dennis Omovie and unanimously supported.
The nominees were directed by Speaker to submit 35 copies of their Curriculum Vitae to the secretariat and to appear before the House today by 10 am.
Meanwhile, the Delta State Government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for God is Good Motors Limited to manage Delta Transport Company Limited with Governor Ifeanyi Okowa expressing confidence that Deltans will have better benefits from the partnership.
Speaking shortly after the MoU was signed yesterday at Government House, Asaba, Governor Okowa disclosed that since the inception of Delta Line, it has not rendered returns to the coffers of the Delta State Government, despite series of government recapitalisation of the company.
The Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in the state, Barr. Peter Mrakpor signed the MoU on behalf of the Delta State Government, while the Chairman of God is Good Motors Limited, Mr. Chidi Ajaere, signed on behalf of his company.
“We just witnessed the signing of MoU between the Delta State Government and God is Good Motors Limited, which is a Private Public Partnership arrangement that will entail God is Good managing Delta Line, our state-run transport company, to make it the best for our people and a company we all can be proud of,” the governor said.
“Since 1999, I have seen Delta Line grow and go down; it is because we don’t have the expertise to run it the way it will be profitable. Every time it is down, government will recapitalise the company, but at the end, what we get is another set of debts to be paid,” he disclosed, adding, “it is only an administration that does not care for its people that will allow such to continue and I am glad that after following due process, I believe we made the right choice by choosing God is Good Motors to manage Delta Line; they are efficient and professionals in the transportation business and they have well trained drivers.”
He continued, “As the Governor of Delta State, I swore to do good and provide the best to Deltans and we shall remain committed to that course; I believe Delta Line will grow with time and ,in the next few years, we shall be getting returns from the company.”
The Chairman, God is Good Motors Limited, Mr. Chidi Ajaere, who led top management of the company to sign the MoU, thanked the Delta State Government for the confidence it has in his company, assuring that with the track record of the transport company, Delta Line would be repositioned to use the best technology to serve Deltans and humanity better.
He assured Deltans that they will get better services through Delta Line.