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Rivers State Assembly asserts authority: overrides governor’s veto to pass local government amendment bill

Legislature's defiance marks sixth instance of bypassing executive authority, amidst political tensions in Port Harcourt.

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In a bold display of legislative power, the Rivers State House of Assembly resolutely pushed through the Rivers State Local Government (Amendment) Bill, rebuffing Governor Siminalayi Fubara’s veto. The enactment of this law significantly curtails the governor’s authority, notably stripping him of the ability to appoint caretaker committees for local government areas.

This decisive move, made during the Assembly’s 159th Legislative sitting at the Assembly Quarters in Port Harcourt and led by Speaker Martin Amaewhule, underscores the ongoing power struggle between the legislative and executive branches. Martins Wachukwu, the media aide to the Speaker, confirmed the Assembly’s decision in a statement released on Monday.

The bill, which also mandates the Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission to conduct elections before the expiration of local government chairmen’s tenures, represents the latest chapter in a protracted political saga. It further stipulates that if circumstances prevent local government elections, sitting chairmen’s tenures may be extended for up to six months.

This legislative confrontation marks the sixth instance in which the House has overridden the governor’s objections to enact laws, highlighting the entrenched discord between the two branches of government. The relationship between the Assembly and Governor Fubara has remained tense, particularly since the governor’s rift with his predecessor and political mentor, Nyesom Wike, came to light late last year.

Last October, 27 Assembly members, including Speaker Amaewhule, attempted to impeach Governor Fubara, underscoring the depth of the political divide. While President Bola Tinubu’s intervention briefly quelled tensions, recent events indicate a resurgence of hostilities.

According to the statement issued by the Speaker’s aide, the Assembly’s determination to fulfill its constitutional duties was unwavering. Majority Leader Hon. Major Jack reintroduced the bill, which was then thoroughly debated by members before the decisive vote to override the governor’s veto.

In a related development, the Assembly also vetted and approved nominees for the chairman and members of the Assembly Service Commission. Notable among those confirmed were Sampson Worlu as Chairman and Abinye Blessing Pepple, Mrs. Blessing Belema Derefaka, Mr. Gbaranen Robinson, and Madam Dorcas Amos as members.

Efforts to obtain a response from the state Commissioner for Information and Communications, Joseph Johnson, were unsuccessful, signaling the continuation of the political standoff as the Assembly asserts its authority in the face of executive opposition.

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