SPEECH BY THE HONOURABLE SPEAKER DELTA STATE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY RT. HONOURABLE (ELDER) SHERIFF FRANCIS OROHWEDOR OBOREVWORI JP FICMC FNIM, AT THE VALEDICTORY SESSION OF THE 7TH ASSEMBLY OF THE DELTA STATE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY ON WEDNESDAY 24TH MAY, 2023.
Honourable Colleagues, my mood this morning is similar to the popular quote by William Shakespeare, “Parting is such a sweet sorrow”. I am deeply touched by the heart warming speeches of Honourable Members. However, everything that has a beginning, has an ending.
- Today, together we are berthing a Legislative journey we started on the 10th of June, 2019. Though, the sail was not free from occasional challenges, overall, it is a successful tenure. With a heart of thanksgiving to God Almighty, I congratulate all of us for making it to the end of the tenure.
3. Unfortunately, some Colleagues we started the 7th Assembly with are no more with us today. We lost Hon. Tim Kome Owhefere and Hon. Kenneth Edafe Ogba to the cold hands of death. Please let us observe a minute silence for the continued repose of their souls. “May the souls of Hon. Tim Kome Owhefere and Hon. Kenneth Edafe Ogba continue to rest in the bossom of the Lord, Amen” .
- Distinguished Colleagues, I owe all of you a debt of gratitude for finding me worthy and electing me as Speaker of the 7th Assembly. It was a tough decision for you, especially, as my tenure as Speaker of the 6th Assembly just ended. In unison, you voted for me overwhelmingly and stood by me throughout the tenure. Your commitments, cooperation and dedication to Legislative duties ensured we succeeded together.
- The 7th Assembly was anchored on building a strong representative institution that collaborated with other arms of government in delivering good governance to Deltans. To achieve this goal, we opted to build capacity of Members and Staff, and provided a conducive work environment.
- In the course of the tenure, Members, Management and Staff were trained locally and in some of the best Institutions in the world. These Institutions include:
(i) Nigerian Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS), Abuja;
(ii) Administrative Staff College of Nigeria (ASCON), Lagos; (iii) Center for Management Development (CMD), Lagos;
(iv) Industrial Training Fund (ITF), Benin and Portharcourt;
(v) University of Cambridge, UK; and
(vi) School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, UK;
- Similarly, in the 7th Assembly the House engaged development partners in improving the Legislative skills of Members and Staff. At different times, KAS organised workshops for Members and Staff on Budget process, committee system, Parliamentary practice and procedure. Pearl ECP also trained Members and Staff in leadership workshops.
- The accumulation of gains from the training and engagements with the development partners resulted in high output of Bills, Motions, Resolutions and other activities by the House.
- One fascinating feat achieved by the 7th Assembly was its cordial working relationship with the Executive Arm for the implementation of Government policies and programmes. With deep conviction, the 7th Assembly appropriated funds for the implementation of the Youth Agricultural Entrepreneurs Programme (YAGEP); Skills Training and Entrepreneurship Programme (STEP); Graduates’ Employment Enhancement Programme (GEEP); Information and Communication Technology-Youth Empowerment Programme (YEP), to mention but a few. Through these schemes, over fifteen thousand (15,000) Deltans and residents have become self employed and employers of labour.
- Distinguished Colleagues, through our collective efforts the 7th Assembly received and processed a total of 69 Bills. The House subjected these Bills through legislative scrutiny and passed 60 out of the Bills. I am glad to announce that 58 of the Bills passed have been assented to by our dear Governor. One is awaiting assent, another one is pending at the Committee of the Whole House, while nine were dropped. It will interest you to know that out of the 69 Bills received by the House, 48 where Executive Bills while 21 were Private Members Bills. This lends credence to our claim of being the most vibrant House of Assembly in the country.
- Furthermore, in the period under review, the House received and processed 237 Motions leading to Resolutions of the House.
- My dear Colleagues, it will be a disservice to the House and our collective efforts if I fail to mention some of the significant Bills passed into law by the 7th Assembly that are driving the different sectors of the State. These laws are:
- Delta State Job and Wealth Creation Bureau Law, 2019;
- Delta State Public Procurement Law, 2020;
- Delta State Internal Revenue Service Law, 2020;
- Delta State Community Security Corps Agency Law, 2020;
- Delta State Public Occupational Safety Law, 2020;
- Delta State Local Content Agency Law, 2020;
- Violence Against Persons Law, 2020;
- University of Delta, Agbor Law, 2021;
- Dennis Osadebay University, Anwai-Asaba Law, 2021;
- Delta State University of Science and Technology, Ozoro Law, 2021;
- Delta State Audit Law, 2021;
- Delta State House of Assembly Service (Establishment etc) Law, 2021;
- Delta State House of Assembly Fund Management (Financial Autonomy) Law, 2021;
- Delta State Judiciary Fund Management (Financial Autonomy) Law, 2021;
- Delta State Urban and Regional Planning Law, 2021;
- Delta State Livestock Breeding, Rearing and Marketing Regulation Law, 2021;
- Delta State Regulation of Community Development Association Law, 2021
- Delta State Maternal and Perinatal Death Surveillance and Response (MPDSR) Law, 2022;
- Delta State Public Finance Management Law; 2022;
- Delta State Forfeiture of Property Law, 2022;
- Delta State Arbitration Law, 2022;
- Delta State Electric Power Sector Law, 2022;
- Administration of Criminal Justice Law, 2022;
- Delta State Administration of Civil Justice Law, 2022;
- Delta State Sickle Cell Disorder Control Law, 2023;
- College of Health Sciences and Technology Law, 2023;
- Delta State Polytechnic, Burutu Law, 2023;
- Delta State Creative Industries Development Law, 2023; and
- Delta State Thanksgiving Day Law, 2023.
- Honourable Colleagues, our legislative intervention in the education sector in passing into law three new universities in the State in 2021 is a watershed. We have by that singular action made university admission more available for qualified Deltans and other Nigerians.
- In summary, the effect of the Laws passed by the 7th Assembly has resulted in growing the economy, provision of infrastructures across the state, skills acquisition programmes for women and youths leading to peace in the state.
- Respected Colleagues, there is no gainsaying the fact that the 7th Assembly is unique in several ways. We enjoyed harmonious working relationship with the Staff of the House. There was no incidence of
strike throughout the tenure of the 7th Assembly. We were able to achieve this by continuous engagement with the Union and the Staff.
- We also recognized the importance of a knowledgeable workforce in effective and efficient service delivery. Our track record of training and retraining of the Assembly Staff is there for everyone to see. The Staff of the House are among the best trained Staff in State Houses of Assembly in Nigeria.
- In addition, the 7th Assembly prioritised the welfare of Staff of the House. In the period under review, the nagging issue of outfit allowance was laid to rest and every Staff now receives their outfit allowance on his or her anniversary of employment. We have also consistently approved Staff week, end of year party and Christmas bonus for Staff of the House. Above all, the 7th Assembly by the passage of the Delta State House of Assembly Service (Establishment etc.) Law, 2021 provides for the appointment of three Deputy Clerks for the House. This is a remarkable achievement as it has always been one Deputy Clerk of the House since the inception of the Assembly in 1992. History has been made by the appointment of additional two Deputy Clerks of the House.
- Now, I would like to recognize in a special way the formidable team that made the 7th Assembly the most vibrant House of Assembly in the country:
- My Deputy Speaker is a definition of loyalty, reliability and support. He made my work easy and enjoyable.
- Majority Leader, I thank you for your zeal towards the work. You learnt very fast on the job. You are always cool and collected in plenary.
- Minority Leader is calm and very understanding.
- Chief Whip, the mother of the House that spares no one for improper dressing. You successfully combined your unique style of dressing with your legislative prowess.
- Deputy Majority Leader, your experience was always handy in debates. You have a special way of addressing issues with African proverbs. Perhaps, that is the reason your Colleagues address you as “Elder” .
- Deputy Chief Whip is my brother and friend. He is a complete gentleman and a team player. Very reliable and trustworthy.
- Majority Whip, thank you for your services to the House.
- Deputy Majority Whip has his own way of doing things. He is a silent achiever and a go-getter.
- Aniocha North is passionate about the legislative business. He is energetic in his debate on the floor of the House.
- Aniocha South contributions on the floor of the House were always helpful.
- Burutu 1 was supportive and a team player.
- Burutu II, the man with the pleasant voice who always cracks up Members when introducing himself on the floor of the House.
- Ika North East, in your right element, you are one of the best in plenary. We will miss your baritone voice.
- Isoko North is a delight to be with. Members were often more interested in your American accent in your debates on the floor of the House.
- Isoko South 1 has a simple disposition. He was always open to learning.
- Ndokwa West is reserved but knowledgeable. He is a balanced and committed ally.
- Oshimili South is committed and a team player.
- Patani is like a younger brother to me and was supportive.
- Sapele is my respected Chief and an elder brother. He showed me love and supported me all the way. God bless you sir.
- Udu was eager and active in plenary.
- Ughelli North 1 was active in plenary and has a team spirit.
- Ughelli South was fiery in his debate but brought colour and exuberance to the floor of the House.
- Warri South 1 was active in plenary and very supportive.
- Warri South II was regular and active in plenary.
- Warri South West combined humility and passion in his legislative business. He has a team spirit.
- Distinguished Colleagues, we started this journey full of energy, vision and promises to our constituents. Today, we can proclaim with a sense of modesty and absolute praise to God that we have done our best and set a record which we will always be proud of. I will be leaving the Legislature with cherished memories of the bond which we created.
- My time in the House from 2015 – 2023 will remain memorable and evergreen in the history of the State Assembly. You will recall that on the 11th of May, 2017 fortune smiled on me and I became the Speaker of the 6th Assembly. Again, on the 10th of June, 2019 with your overwhelming support I was elected the Speaker of the 7th Assembly. It is the first time in the history of the State that a Member is serving as Speaker from one Assembly to another Assembly, and presiding over two validatory sessions. And with your cooperation, I remain the longest serving Speaker in Delta State. No impeachment. No resignation. No removal. All by the grace of God.
- As I said earlier, the 7th Assembly is a history making Assembly. To the glory of God, one of your own is now the Governor-Elect of Delta State.
- At this juncture, I would like to thank our Governor, His Excellency, Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, CON, who has provided enviable leadership in the State. I thank him most especially for his respect for the rule of law and for appreciating that to operate a functional democracy, the legislature needed to enjoy independence. Delta State House of Assembly is among the first Houses of Assembly in the country to enjoy financial autonomy. We worked in harmony (without compromising our independence) with the Executive to deliver good governance to Deltans. It is therefore, my advice to the 8th Assembly to work with other arms of government in delivering quality development in the State, while also protecting the independence of the legislature.
- Let me also express my appreciation to the Staff of the House, ably led by the Clerk of the House. Your commitment and dedication made our work easy. You showed true love and rallied round me when it mattered most. I have no regret working with all of you. I implore you to show the same solidarity to the leadership of the 8th Assembly.
- I also thank my support Staff who were with me through thick and thin in this journey. I could not have wished for a better team. I cherish your labour of love for me.
- May I also place on record my heartfelt gratitude to my constituents (Okpe State Constituency) who gave me the mandate to represent them in this House. Without your mandate, all my achievements in the House would not have been possible.
- Finally, let me thank my family for their prayers, support and understanding. Most times, I found myself away from home attending to official assignments. Yet, you have shown me love and care. I do not take your understanding and patience for granted.
- Gentlemen of the press, I thank you for your unbiased reporting of activities of the House in the 7th Assembly. Thank you for being partners in progress with the House.
- In the same vein, I thank all Deltans and residents for giving us the opportunity to serve them and also for their true love for me to serve them in a higher capacity.
- In conclusion, I wish to say that as humans, we are not perfect beings. So if in the course of my duty as a presiding officer in the last six years I have wronged any of us, please find a place in your heart to forgive. On my part, I have also forgiven anyone that has wronged me. Nobody is good enough to be my enemy, neither do I have the ability to hate anyone. To err is human and to forgive is divine.
- In all, as a leader, I have learnt to listen more, and I pledge to do MORE for Deltans as Governor.
- Thank you for your kind attention.
- God bless you.
- HON. (ELDER) SHERIFF F. O. OBOREVWORI (JP) FICMC FNIM
Speaker, DTHA AND GOVERNOR-ELECT
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