By Ifeoma Ofurum
As the Imo State House of Assembly gets ready to pass a bill to privatise the parastatals in the state, a legal practitioner and human rights activist, Barr. Wisdom Durueke, has called on the lawmakers to organize public hearings in three zones of the state before passing the bill.
Barr. Durueke, who spoke to Christian Voice in reaction to the bill on Public Private Partnership (PPP), also called for the involvement of all the parastatals, non-governmental organizations, professional groups and consumers.
He said that such a move could avail them the opportunity to send their memoranda and defend their positions as well as share ideas “as what touches all should be approved by all”.
In addition, the social crusader called for a functional website where the bill can be accessed by those who wish to make contributions.
“Proposed bills are not secret documents because the legislative group is not a secret society, rather they are the mouthpiece of the citizen, hence the arm of government that is closer to the people. Let them make public their e-mails and contacts to make themselves accessible,” he said.
Barr. Durueke said that the government ought also to conduct a thorough audit on the parastatals before they are labeled moribund.
Auditing, he said, would reveal their assets, liabilities, debtors and creditors, saying that such an important bill should not be rushed.
He maintained that not every parastatal should make money for government, adding that while some play critical roles, some render services to the masses.
He took a swipe at government officials who help to run down some parastatals, where, for instance, they give written notes for guests to occupy rooms free-of-charge in government hotels.
“The same government wakes up and declares such parastatals moribund,” he said.
While presenting the bill, the member representing Ideato South, Hon. Ikechukwu Aruuka, who sponsored it, said that, if passed into law, it would create a platform for government to allow private individuals run those establishments that it could not run its own so as to generate money for the state.
He said some of them had gone moribund, noting that privatization was inevitable as federal allocation has dwindled.
Contributing, Hon. Mike Iheanaetu representing Aboh Mbaise, described the bill as anti-human noting that it would take governance away from the citizen, tarnish the government’s image and impoverish the people of Imo.
The PPP bill, which has passed through its first and second reading, has been referred to the house committees on commerce and industry and reports are expected on September, 29.