In a ceremonious welcome, the 10th Cross River State House of Assembly greeted His Excellency, Prince Bassey E. Otu, Governor of Cross River State, as he arrived at the legislative chamber for a significant event—the presentation of the 2024 Appropriation Bill. The Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Elvert Ayambem, conveyed this warm reception, acknowledging the constitutional duty of the Governor to present the financial estimates of the state for the coming year.
The occasion was made even more special as it marked the maiden edition of the Appropriation Bill to be presented by the newly elected Governor to the 10th Legislature, with a resounding message of unity and the state’s commitment to putting “the people first.”
During the address, the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Elvert Ayambem, expressed his congratulations to the Governor on his victory in the March 18, 2023 Governorship polls and his recent triumph at the Election Tribunal. These victories, Ayambem noted, were a source of hope for Cross Riverians, who eagerly anticipate a brighter future under the leadership of Governor Otu.
Ayambem recognized the Governor’s achievements in maintaining peace and security within the first four months of his administration. He commended the administration’s efforts to combat criminality and bring an end to issues like cultism and hooliganism, particularly in regions such as Bakassi, Akpabuyo, and Calabar South. The Speaker expressed the House’s full support for these actions to combat crime and enhance safety in the state.
Highlighting the synergy between the Executive and the Legislative arms of the state government, Ayambem emphasized their commitment to working together for the benefit of Cross Riverians. He also acknowledged the importance of providing legislative support for government initiatives and maintaining unity between the branches of government.
As Governor Otu prepared to present the 2024 Budget, Ayambem remarked that Cross Riverians had high expectations for what he described as a “budget of sweetness.” He believed that this budget would boost the state’s economic prospects.
However, Ayambem also took the opportunity to address some challenges facing the House. One prominent issue was the call for legislative autonomy, an issue of national and international importance. The Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASSAN) had declared an industrial action, scheduled for November 2023, due to the lack of progress in granting autonomy to the legislature. The Speaker hoped that Governor Otu, along with his counterparts in other states, would address this matter to avert the strike action.
The House’s inability to operate fully due to issues surrounding the C.R.S. Assembly Service Commission was another concern. While the enabling laws were put in place two years ago, the commission had not received the facilities required for its operation. The Speaker emphasized the importance of an enabling environment for Hon. Members to perform their legislative functions and urged the Governor’s attention to this matter.
The Speaker concluded by expressing gratitude to various civil society organizations (CSOs), government departments (MDAs), and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for their ongoing support. He also thanked the Royal Fathers, distinguished guests, leaders of thought, and other esteemed personalities who had attended this significant occasion.
The stage was set for Governor Otu to present the much-anticipated 2024 Budget, a moment that held immense promise for Cross River State.