The Parliament of Benue, Nigeria

Population 5,181,642
Seat of Parliament Makurdi
Date of Independence 3 February 1976
Constitution State
CPA Branch Formed Jan 1 1983
Voting Age 18
First Parliament
Local Information
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History The maiden Benue State House of Assembly was inaugurated on 2nd October, 1979 following the return of democratic rule in Nigeria with a presidential system of Government. Hon. Ayua Num led the 57-member House as the Speaker. In 1983, the second Benue Assembly was inaugurated, though short-lived, following the military intervention on 31st December, 1983 and seizure of power from the civilian government. Consequently, the House of Assembly was dissolved. Hon. Mike Tor-Bosua was the Honourable Speaker of this short-lived Assembly. The military government under the leadership of General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida in 1992, attempted a democratic experiment that ushered in democratic structures at the Local and State levels, and also the National Assembly. The Third Benue Assembly was inaugurated on 13th January, 1992, comprised of 36 members, with Hon. Stephen Tsav as the Honourable Speaker. Hon. Emmanuel Jime took over the speakership from Hon.Tsav in July, 1993. Again, the House was dissolved in 1993 following the annulment of June 12 presidential election and takeover of the military from the Interim National Government headed by Chief Ernest Shonekan. General Sani Abacha then assumed leadership of the country's affairs as head of State. The Fourth and historic Benue Assembly, whose membership dropped to 29, elected the first female Speaker, Rt. Hon. Chief (Mrs.) Margaret Mwuese Icheen (Kwande-East Constituency). That Assembly was inaugurated on 29th May, 1999. Further changes in the House leadership ushered in Hon. David Mzenda Iho from Katsina-Ala East Constituency as the Speaker on 13th March, 2002. And subsequently, by the grace of God, the fifth Assembly was inaugurated on 4th June, 2003 when Rt. Hon. David Mzenda Iho was unanimously re-elected as the Speaker of the House. The Sixth Benue Assembly was inaugurated on 4th June, 2007 and Hon. Terseer Tsumba from Buruku Constituency was unanimously elected to lead the House as the Speaker. STRUCTURAL ORGANISATION OF THE HOUSE Basically the structure of the House is divided into two layers, political and administrative: Political ?Principal Officers of the House ?Honourable Members Principal Officers of the House is made up of the following: ?Honourable Speaker ?Deputy Speaker ?Majority Leader ?Minority Leader ?Majority Whip ?Minority Whip Out of the other 23 Honourable Members, 21 are chairmen of Standing Committees. Administrative At the helm of affairs of the administrative layer is the Clerk of the House, who is also the Accounting Officer of the House. The departments include: ?Legislative Department ?Department of Administration and Finance ?Department of Legal Drafting ?Department of Planning, Research and Statistics ?Publications Department ?Specialised Unit The Legislative Department is headed by the Deputy Clerk, and is further staffed by legislative officers from the rank of Director of Legislative Matters down to Legislative Officer I. This pool of staff serve as Clerks-at-Table and Secretaries to Committees. The Department is solely responsible for the day to day legislative functions of the House, including: ?Bills processing ?Keeping records of House deliberations, motions and resolutions, preparation of House Order Papers as well as Votes and Proceedings. ?The Committee Secretaries prepare Committee reports for submission to the House for deliberation. The Department of Administration and Finance has the following units: ?Administration Unit ?Accounts/Store Unit ?House of Assembly Clinic The Department of Legal Drafting is headed by the Director of Legislative Drafting who is a seasoned Lawyer. He is assisted by other lawyers whose primary activities include: ?Drafting of bills ?Drafting of motions ?Vetting of bills and other instruments meant for the House? consideration ?Legal representation and advisory services ?Vetting of House contracts and other agreements ?Preparation of clean copies of bills passed by the House before forwarding same to the Governor for assent. The Department of Planning, Research and Statistics ?Preparation of annual Budgetary Estimate for the House of Assembly ?Preparation of both short- and long-term rolling plans for the House. ?Interface between the House of Assembly and the State Planning Commission, and the National Planning Commission on planning matters. ?Oversees the legislative library ?Keep records of all information and books that are necessary for the conduct of House business. ?Research and report on all matters incidental to the smooth running of the Department The Publications Department ?Takes verbatim report of House proceedings ?Prepare Hansards or the official report of House business which are kept for public and future consumption. Specialised Units, which are directly under the Office of the Clerk, include: ?Sergeant-at-Arms ?Internal Audit ?Maintenance Unit GOALS AND CHALLENGES The goal of the Benue State House of Assembly is clearly discernible from its motto, which is ?Quality Legislation for Good Governance.? The House aspires to develop into a robust and world class legislative arm capable of meeting the aspirations of the people of Benue State. Strictly speaking, these goals, aims, objectives, and functions of the House are all Constitutionally-mandated and they include: ?Appropriation ?Legislation ?Oversight ?Investigation ?Representation The Challenges The Legislature has been rightly described as the disadvantaged arm of government. This derives from the fact that, in Benue State, out of the 34 years of existence, the legislature has a short history of being in place for only half of that period, 17 years. This is brought about by the incessant incursion of the military into politics, and each time there is a military government in place, the House of Assembly is usually disbanded. For that reason, whenever again democratic governance is restored, the legislative arm has to be reconstituted and must have to learn the rudiments of its activities and functions all over again. Consistent practise, they say, begets perfection. The mere fact that the legislature has over time been deprived of continuity, has robbed it of the much desired professionalism. To meet up with these challenges, the Benue State House of Assembly, since 1999, has engaged in partnership with bodies home and abroad in order to draw down benefits of internationally accepted best practises. The participation of the Benue State House of Assembly in the Legislative Strengthening Programme for Nigeria (LSPN) from 1999 through 2009, afforded the House the opportunity to network and collaborate with development and policy research outfits like the Mississippi Consortium for International Development (MCID), the Nigerian Institute for Social and Economic Research, NISER, Ibadan, Development Consultants Network (DCN) and others. Through these collaborative efforts, the House has participated in several capacity building training workshops in-country and abroad. The result is the development of a reservoir of experienced legislators and staff whose outputs are increasing by the day. Additionally, the Benue State House of Assembly is a member of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) and CPA Africa Region. Similarly, the Speaker of the House is a member of the Conference of Speakers of Nigerian State Legislatures, and currently, chairman of the Northern Speakers? Forum. Membership of these bodies and participation in their conferences attract huge benefits to the House, in terms of providing an atmosphere to rob minds with counterparts from other legislatures during which issues of common concern are deliberated upon, and solutions to common challenges adopted. At the level of staff, the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN), an umbrella body of the staff of the National Assembly and the 36 State legislatures, provides a forum for staff to exchange ideas, compare notes and adopt better approach to the parliamentary business. On the lack of continuity and professionalism of staff of the Assembly due to frequent military administration in Nigeria, it is hoped that by the time the House of Assembly Service Commission is established, it will lead to a more permanent structure of House staff. The House has also endeavoured to put in place a deep-rooted Information Communication Technology (ICT) policy which has made it possible for all legislators and key personnel of the Benue State House of Assembly to receive basic computer training and a computer to work with. Benue State House of Assembly has a D ress Code, which prescribes the mode of dressing for legislators, legislative staff and visitors. Coming into effect in July 2008, the code took note of the need for proper dressing, in which corporate appearance and decency are the major considerations. In this regard, men dressed in native agbada or caftan must put on a cap to match. Similarly, English dressing comprising trousers and shirt/suit, must have a necktie to match. Ladies? dressing in native must also go with a headgear; English dressing for ladies include skirts and shirt/suits, but ladies should not appear in trousers. Denims are prohibited for both men and women.

Branch Profile Benue State as it exists today is a surviving legacy of an administrative entity which was carved out of the protectorate of northern Nigeria at the beginning of the twentieth century. The territory was initially known as Munshi Province until 1918 when the name of its dominant geographical feature, the ?River Benue? was adopted.

As an administrative unit, Benue State was first created on February 3, 1976. It was one of the seven states created by the military administration headed by the late General Murtala Mohammed, which increased the number of states in the country from 13 to 19. In 1991 its boundaries were adjusted with the creation of Kogi State. The new Benue State of today has twenty (23) local government areas, which are administered by local government councils.

Benue State lies within the lower river Benue trough in the middle belt region of Nigeria. Its geographic coordinates are longitude 7 47? and 10 0? East. Latitude 6 25? and 8 8? North; and shares boundaries with five other states namely: Nassarawa to the north, Taraba to the east, Cross-River to the south, Enugu to the south-west and Kogi to the west. The state also shares a common boundary with the Republic of Cameroun on the south-east. Benue has a population of 4,780,389 (2006 census) and occupies a landmass of 32,518 square kilometers.

The state comprised of several ethnic groups: Tiv, Idoma, Igede, Etulo, Abakpa, Jukun, Hausa, Akweya and Nyifon. The Tiv are the dominant ethnic group, occupying 14 local government areas, while the Idoma and Igede occupy the remaining nine local government areas.

Most of the people are farmers while the inhabitants of the riverine areas engage in fishing as their primary or important secondary occupation. The people of the state are famous for their cheerful and hospitable disposition as well as rich cultural heritage.

The Benue State Government accords high respect to traditional rulers in recognition of their role as custodians of culture and as agents of development. Also, their roles in peace and order at the grassroots level are recognized. In order to enhance their contribution to the affairs of the state, government has established a three-tier traditional council system made up of Local Government Area Traditional Councils, Area Traditional Councils and the State Council of Chiefs.

The Local Government (Area) Traditional Council is made up of District Heads in a Local Government Area and is headed by a chairman who is a second class chief. The two Area Councils are the Tiv Traditional Council and the Idoma Traditional Council. The former is made up of all the traditional rulers from the fourteen Tiv-speaking Local Government Areas with the Tor Tiv as Chairman, while the latter is made up of nine Idoma-speaking Local Government Areas, has the Och?Idoma as Chairman.

The State Council of Chiefs has the Tor Tiv, Orchivirigh Dr. Alfred Akawe Torkura as Chairman, with Och?Idoma and all second class Chiefs/Chairmen of the Local Government Traditional Council as members.
Benue State possesses a rich and diverse cultural heritage which finds expression in colourful cloths, exotic masquerades, supplicated music and dances. Traditional dances from Benue State have won acclaim at national and international cultural festivals. These dances include Ingyough, Ange, Anchanakupa and Swange among the Tiv, and Anuwowowo and Odabaru among the Idoma. The Tiv kwagh-hir theatre provides memorable entertainment in its dramatization of Tiv folklore and social commentary.

The socio-religious festivals of the state are equally famous. The Alekwu ancestral festival of the Idoma for instance, is an occasion when, it is popularly believed the ancestors emerge from the spirit world to reestablish contact with the living in forms of masquerades.

Marriage, funerals and other rites of passage provide occasion for rich displays of the people's cultural heritage.

Fishing festivals and communal hunting expeditions are colourful and memorable social events among various communities. The Igede Agba (a new yam festival) and the Ujo festival are the most important social occasions among the Igede and Igumale/Agila people respectively.

The first organized state-wide kwagh-hir competition festival dates back as far as December 1981 and was initiated by the then Chairman of the Benue State Council for Arts and Culture, Dr. Iyorwuese Hagher, a university professor.
Among the Tiv speaking people of Benue State of Nigeria the word "kwagh-hir" literally means the folktale or simply something magical. It is a unique form of theatre in the generic concept of folktales told in traditional societies all over the world. Folktales are told in virtually all societies all over the world with trickster characters like the rabbit, or the tortoise or the cat dominating their plots and playing unassailable roles. The objectives of these folktales and stories are not only to entertain young children at bedtime but to also teach some morals on contemporary issues. The kwagh-hir theatre is therefore an enactment of the Tiv folktales. Since the Tiv people are good hunters, their stories and imaginations are full of bush animals (Nyam). Some of the episodes of the kwagh-hir feature highly imaginative forms of wild beasts that dance to the melodious tunes of the humans. Tiv folktales are not only told about animals, but spirits (Azov) and puppets (Eev) as well.

Spirits in the world-view of African societies are a reality. Africans believe in the existence of the spiritual world of various people made by the Almighty God, lesser gods, good spirits, evil spirits and ancestors. In fact, human beings who live virtuous lives and die at a ripe old age transform into the state of ancestors who must be appeased anytime a social occasion is to start. In the imagination of the Tiv kwagh-hir theatre, spirits manifest in many fantastic forms performing various activities as are carried among human beings.

What perhaps distinguishes the kwagh-hir theatre from any other theatre in the world is its composite nature bringing together the role of carvers, drummers, singers, masquerades dancers, manipulators and actors. It features a rich repertoire of marionettes performing various human activities with a view to making comment or teaching morals in the Tiv society.

In essence, the kwagh-hir theatre is a unique fusion of the human world, the spiritual world, the animal world and the world of fantasy. All these characters share common music and instrumentation, common beliefs, common world view and common virtues. Although the kwagh-hir performance may not have a single plot as in formal drama, each enactment has its own characters, action and message existing independently.

Chamber 1

Chamber House of Assembly
No of Seats 29
No of Women 2
Date of Last Election 01 Apr 2007
Term 4 years
No of Parties 0

Chamber 2

No of Seats 0
No of Women 0
Date of Last Election
No of Parties 0


Number of Departmental/Ministry Oversight Committees:
Number of Joint Committees (if bicameral):
Names of House Management (such as Privileges or Procedure) Committees:


Are reports or recommendations from committees debated in the Chamber:
Must Ministers provide substantive responses to committee reports/recommendations and, if so, what is the time limit for providing responses?


Does Parliament or a committee have formal input into the formulation of the budget?
What is the normal time between the presentation of the budget to Members and its passage by Parliament?

Committee staffing

How much Chamber and committee time is normally spent in scrutinizing the budget prior to passage?
Number of Clerks to service committees:
Do committees have access to subject specialist researchers from parliamentary staff?
Do committees have access to funds to hire external subject specialist advisors?

Members of Parliament/Legislature

Name Position Address Title Contact Info
Mr Emmanuel I. Ukaba Branch Secretary Benue State House of Assembly
Legislative Buildings
P.M.B 102356
Clerk of the House P: (+234-44) 531-610
Tseer Tsumba William Edo, MLA Branch President Benue State House of Assembly
Legislative Buildings
P.M.B 102356
Speaker P: (+234-44) 531-610