It was not too long ago that an existential crisis rocked the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly. Backed by the Police, a faction in the house chose to sideline another faction in plenary proceedings to make legislative pronouncements. But just before the brink of melting into a situation of total anarchy, sanity got restored again.
About the same run of events beclouds the Edo State House of Assembly at the moment. Some members of the House were allegedly prevented from being inaugurated, as was supposed to be administered by the Clerk. As a result, the disgruntled members have not allowed peace to reign ever since.
Reports have it that the Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki, had issued a proclamation, as it is constitutionally required of him, to the Edo House of Assembly through the clerk. But only 9 out of the 24 members of the House showed up to take the oath after which the Speaker was subsequently elected by them.
Before the resumption of the new house, the All Progressives Congress (APC) House members had split into factions with 12 reportedly supporting the governor while another 12 supported the National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomole. It is also known that one of the 12-man faction loyal to the APC chairman is Seidu Oshiomole – a brother to Adams Oshiomole. All of these may prove for certain the growing rift between Obaseki and Oshiomole who was once his godfather. It was also this same bad blood that was carried over into the inauguration of the new house and its members.
The problem which seems to now haunt the Edo matter is that the action cannot be reversed, as there is no provision in the constitution of Nigeria for such a lacuna. Perhaps the other elected members of the House who have not been inaugurated can be allowed to take the oath of office, but the election of the Speaker can hardly be rewound.
The law is not perfect; neither is the constitution itself. But an urgent rejig of the constitution is required if we are to move ahead as a country. It is for the same reason of loopholes in the law that criminals are able to get away with a lot of indiscretions.
Likewise, there is clearly a motive behind this level of confusion by the governor, the clerk, or the nine members who carried on with their duties without the presence of their other colleagues. If properly investigated, as the Senate is doing, and the House of Representatives in Abuja have done, it will be discovered that there was an ulterior motive foundational to the misinformation which caused the absence of the other members of the Edo State House of Assembly at their inauguration.
The House of Representatives committee which investigated the matter has recommended that the House direct the Inspector General of Police to lockdown the Edo House of Assembly pending when the governor issues another proclamation to the Clerk of the House so that another inauguration can be done. The problem with this directive, even as the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) warned, is that there is no provision in the constitution for settling rifts emanating from this kind of scenario. Therefore, any alternate action taken by peacemakers would be unconstitutional. This is exactly why the PDP has condemned the action which the leadership of the House of Representatives is recommending.
Those who designed the 1999 Constitution – without the input of the citizenry – have done a disservice to the nation if such loopholes are left to fetter and be continually exploited. But it is even more terrible because rogues who call themselves politicians continue to exploit such to their own advantage and at the expense of the people.
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