EDO STATE POLITICS: INTERVENTION BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

It appears that subterranean and desperate steps are being deployed by some major political characters to effectively externalize and exacerbate the seeming pervading situation of political crisis in Edo State; the particular highpoint of the alleged tension being the apparent conflict between the APC national Chairman and immediate past Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, and the State’s incumbent Governor Godwin Obaseki. While Obaseki concentrated on the agenda of governance and infrastructure development, politicians unquestionably aligned with Oshiomhole have persistently and systematically, in nearly eight months, sought to sabotage the patriotic efforts of the Governor. While Obaseki, even to the point of arousing the anger of his close associates, continuously adopted a patient disposition for the sake of party cohesion and respect for his predecessor (Oshiomhole), the allies of the ex-governor were out privately and publicly savaging the reputation and maligning the character of Obaseki. At no point in the past and up till now, no single word of caution has ever been issued by Oshiomhole to call his run-amok surrogates to order. It is today incontrovertibly evident that Oshiomhole’s loyalists are focused on one objective: to ensure the failure of Governor Obaseki and possibly fractionalize and factionalize the APC in Edo State. There is, however, one formidable obstacle against the diabolical plots of the opponents of the Governor. The mass of the people of Edo State have come to appreciate the new definition of the practical civics of governance and service to the people and would, therefore, not accept an abnegation of “Obasekism’’ as an organizing and governing principle which yields the genuine and healthy fruits of Democracy.
It must be earnestly stated for contemporaneity and posterity that the central grouse of the anti-Obaseki class is that the Governor refused to fritter and squander the resources of the state to pamper and indulge some self-acclaimed party leaders. Rather Obaseki sought to establish a new beneficial model for party leadership where the Governor urged the hierarchy of Edo APC to identify urgent and preferred projects that were needed in their constituencies for execution. Unfortunately, the warring leaders did not see much of private benefit in the Obaseki’s policy of public good. Hence, while Obaseki garnered massive public support and approval, those who were opposed to the change from a decadent tradition swore to pull down the popularly acknowledged performing Governor. The Obaseki – APC brand is so highly attractive that it is now being embraced even by members of the various opposition parties and a considerable population of non-partisan voters.
So intense was the undiluted nature of the bellicosity towards the Governor that some of the major leaders of the Oshiomhole-group in Edo South Senatorial Zone actually went out to canvass for votes against APC during 2019 Presidential and General Election in order to humiliate Governor Obaseki. That persons openly allied to the national chairman of the APC would engage in such sinister conduct is the zenith of treacherous anti-party activity. Of course, such issues will be concealed, instead of being investigated by the party, because Oshiomhole is dictating the direction of APC national working committee. Witnesses are waiting to be summoned to specifically give names and describe the situations in their polling units where some of the pro-Oshiomhole leaders now generating heat in Edo State stood out openly while sabotaging the APC during the presidential election. Do such characters genuinely mean well for the APC?
The foregoing crucial facts are some of the germane issues that the members of the Ad-hoc committee, set up by the House of Representatives, to investigate and engender reconciliation to the crisis in Edo State must take into reasoned consideration. The thirteen honorable members of the Abdulrazak Namdas- led committee definitely have a historic assignment that must go beyond the flimsy, and the theatrical with outcome designed to please some egotistic Iyamho/Abuja interest. It is understood that committee Chairman, Hon Namdas from Adamawa State is a highly regarded, thoughtful and perspective politician who will listen carefully to the people as he seeks to engender peace with justice in the Edo troubled situation.
It is indeed commendable that the House of Representatives at its plenary session on Tuesday, July 9th, 2019 refused to be collectively blindfolded and railroaded into adopting such a tragically consequential motion regarding the affairs of the Edo State House of Assembly, without comprehensive examination of the issues at stake. Speaker Gbajabiamila, being a smart and seasoned legislator, must have done a quick and proper assessment of the mood of the larger majority of the House of Representatives, and therefore, elevated honor and caution over short-term perfidious and emotional gains. The wishes of an apparent demented and diminutive ‘’Emperor‘’ did not gain the assent of the sober, independent and self-respecting legislators.
What the three representatives from Edo State (Julius Ihonvbere, Peter Akpatason, and Johnson Oghuma) all from Edo North Senatorial district – Oshiomhole’s district, tried to achieve with their motion at the July 9th plenary was odiously dishonorable; the motion that the lawless representatives tried to smuggle through the national assembly would have dangerously hinged Edo State on the cliff of regrettable political anarchy. It will be an indelible historical blight for, Ihonvbere, to have so selfishly and thoughtlessly attempted an invocation of the national assembly powers, Section 11(4) of the 1999 Constitution as amended; the immediate outcome, if the motion had succeeded, would have been a takeover of the functions of Edo State House of Assembly by the Abuja-based House of Representatives. Consequently, the Edo State House of Assembly would have lost its sovereign legitimacy to become a colonized enclave of Oshiomhole’s hapless surrogates. Did the supposed professor of political science, Ihonvbere, think through the overall intended (and unintended) consequences of his action before embarking on such a precarious journey? One would have thought that Ihonvbere’s alleged academic background and tenure at America’s globally reputable Ford Foundation would have equipped him with the vital discipline and orientation for imbibing cautionary perspectives in shaping public policy. When will, Ihonvbere, acquire some dignity and cure his syndrome to genuflect and somersault whenever Oshiomhole merely gestures with his hand. Ihonvbere should have known that the majority of the Edo people would have risked their lives to defend their political sovereignty in an attempt to effect Oshiomhole’s colonization of the Edo State House of Assembly. Was it, therefore, the intention of, Ihonvbere, to create civil anarchy and mayhem on the streets of Edo State while he (Ihonvbere) withdraws to the luxury of his Obasanjo-gifted illegitimately acquired mansion in Abuja? The day of accountability is coming!
The members of the fact-finding ad-hoc committee of the House of Representatives will be well received by the people of Edo State as a historically peaceful and hospitable geo-political entity. They will meet a state that is at peace and a progressive governor that is enjoying the overwhelming support of the citizenry. The only opportunity that the mass of Edo citizens seeks is a humble opportunity for the Namdas-led committee to create time to hear from the people directly as the ultimate stakeholders and sovereign of Nigeria’s democracy. Edo people trust that the committee of the House of Representatives will not come into this matter with any dishonorable agenda, but with the nobility of intention and open minds. It is on this score that the jury of history will offer the Namdas –ad hoc committee and other members a worthy verdict.
It is time to put an end to the malicious narrative that the Edo House of Assembly has not been constitutionally inaugurated. Rather What is exigent now is for the deviant Edo lawmakers-elect to terminate their idle hibernation in Abuja, return to Benin and fill out the necessary papers to qualify them for the inauguration. The Speaker of the House of Assembly Rt. Hon. Frank Okiye has made several public appeals for the runaway members-elect to duly complete the constitutional requirements so that they can commence the performance of their obligations to their constituencies. The clock is ticking and the lawmakers-elect should be conscious of the number of days of their absence from the business of the Edo State House of Assembly. The lawmakers-elect will have no one else to blame but themselves if the sanction for a long absence from legislative proceedings is ultimately imposed as required by the constitution.

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

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