EDO HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY: OBLIGATIONS BEYOND NARROW INTERESTS

Too often in our nation’s history of the conduct of legislators both at the national and state levels, it seems that the elected members almost immediately abandon the sacredness of their mandate even before they commence business in what is supposed to be the ‘’hallowed chambers’’. One is at great pains to suggest that a considerable fraction of the legislators are abysmally ignorant of the reverence that the appellation ‘’Honorable’’ invokes. Perhaps such irresponsible lawmakers carry the false but irredeemably corrupted notion that the title, Honorable, automatically attaches to their names instead of seeking legitimacy in the manner in which they discharge their obligations to their constituencies. The same reasoning must be applied to counter the bastardized mantra that the chambers of the legislatures at various levels are by their mere physical existence ‘’ hallowed ‘’ rather the unpolluted sacredness of the legislatures must be endowed with the purity of the conduct of the lawmakers. Consequently, the honor, the independence and the hallowed sacredness of the vital second arm of our democracy must be earned through the noble conduct of the lawmakers.
Unfortunately, the conduct of some newly elected members of the Edo State House of Assembly for the 2019/23 session (7th Assembly) is already corroding the allure of the resounding victory with which they were mandated by their constituencies. It is most regrettable that even as members-elect, before being formally inaugurated, a miserable handful of degenerate lawmakers are already exhibiting sickening shenanigans for which they will ultimately be condemned and found guilty before the jury of history. Undoubtedly, the voters of Edo State on March 9th were unequivocal about their preference for a progressive legislative agenda to flow in synchronism with the high achieving features of Governor Obaseki’s administration. The Edo APC leadership proudly took cognizance of the privilege and obligation that history has offered the party and therefore determined to create the right productive structural arrangements within the All –APC House of Assembly. In adherence with the collective political will of the people of Edo State, the party also laid a fair zoning formula so that all local governments and geographical zones of the State will be given the opportunity to play a principal role in the legislature. Even for such well known procedural arrangement, the tiny pack of legislators concocted some opposition to the party’s proposals while actually concealing more sinister self-centered plots. These legislators who had already begun such an early betrayal of their constituencies held up the process of the inauguration of the House of Assembly while the same group intensely engaged in morally questionable negotiations with individuals and agencies whose interest are obviously in conflict with that of Edo people in contemporary times.
The group of legislators who seem to have constituted themselves into a cabal of disruption and stagnation was so engaged in organizing press conferences where they purveyed falsehoods about the party leadership and the Governor; the sole intention of this members-elect was to ensure that the reformative changes being proposed by the APC leadership for the house did not come to fruition. These are prospective lawmakers who prefer to continue with some aspects of the decadent tradition for which some Houses of Assembly across the country are infamous. For instance, rather than immediately settling down to ensure the due completion of the necessary documents to constitutionally qualify for their inauguration, the supposed legislators rather expended energy on how to blackmail the APC and the Governor for immediate payments of all sorts legitimate and illegitimate funds to the lawmakers-elect. Spurred on in some cases by the PDP, the newly elected lawmakers even sought to arm-twist Governor Obaseki before the particular group of legislators would even cote in compliance with the zoning policy of the party for equity in the distribution of principal offices in the assembly. The Governor and the APC party leadership was unequivocal that the lawmakers-elect will receive all their due entitlements but that the progressive APC Governor would not approve the illegitimate claims being sought by some the new lawmakers. Of course, it was not a surprise to find that a self-acclaimed emperor enthusiastically rose in support of the lawmakers-elect who were making outrageous demands. What else could have been the position of a man that for decades treated our state’s resources as slush funds that was routinely and cavalierly dished between himself and a few of his cronies. But that is the very kind of political culture that Edo voters are anxiously seeking to consign to the pages of distant history hence they voted so massively for a rejuvenated APC. It is, therefore, a colossal disappointment that supposedly famed national and Edo state leader of the APC is allegedly involved in the clandestine sponsorship of the pack of APC lawmakers who are seeking morally atrocious PDP-like financial rainfall.
Edo State cannot and should not be held hostage by a handful of decadent lawmakers who seem unprepared for a new orientation of public service and not pursuance of private interests. Now that the elected lawmakers who have completed the necessary forms for inauguration have formally taken their oaths, the work of the House of Assembly must proceed in earnest immediately after resumption from the adjournment. The few other lawmakers yet to be inaugurated must meet up with their constitutional requirements including the completion of their forms for asset declaration. There was no reason why the entire membership of the house should not have been simultaneously inaugurated by Monday noon except for the unpatriotic decision of the remaining legislators to ignore the invitation of the Clerk of the House of Assembly.
Those legislators who did not acknowledge the Proclamation letter sent by Governor Obaseki to the Clerk of the Assembly on Friday and equally did not respond to entreaty by the Clerk for the concerned lawmakers to complete the necessary documents prior to their formal investment with legislative authority; those lawmakers are preparing their names for prominent display in the gallery of failures. The voters of the constituencies from which they were elected have in recent years gained an increased understanding of the essence of accountability and responsibility from their representatives. Holding of press conferences for distribution of falsehoods to generate confusion and the formation of alignments with moneyed political interest is not the mission on which their constituents sent the lawmakers-elect. In Edo politics, the lesson has been learned from the demise of the PDP that the tribunal of the people will swiftly and decisively reciprocate the conduct of their elected representative in equal measure and kind. The degenerate legislators must immediately return to the progressive forum to join hands with their colleagues and the Governor to catalyze the ongoing pro-people programs on which the administration has already embarked. Service to the people must be the premiere, all other considerations including genuflecting to some ‘’ godfathers’’ must be placed as a distant second. Edo voters are watching and waiting!

BY
OTEGHE ADAMS, BENIN-CITY, EDO STATE, NIGERIA

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