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Edo speakership and the Makurdi humiliation
On April 23, 2010 in Makurdi, the Benue State capital, an incident which should elicit soberness on the part of the controversial Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly, Honourable Bright Omokhodion, occurred. Media reports have it that the Conference of Speakers of the 36 state Houses of Assembly barred him (Omokhodion) from participating in its meeting.
The speakers’ conference, according to the reports, politely told Omokhodion that he was not recognised as the bona fide Speaker of the Edo legislature because of the court cases challenging his emergence as speaker in the stead of Hon. Zakawanu Garuba. Garuba and other stakeholders in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are in court seeking a return to the status quo ante.
Omokhodion reportedly stormed out of the meeting in subdued anger. Accompanied by his aides, he refused to entertain questions from journalists, who were in the premises of the banquet of the Benue State Government House, venue of the meeting.
But the humiliation could have been avoided if the Action Congress (AC) had not embarked on the misadventure of removing Garuba through a process that was patently unconstitutional. The constitutional provision of removing the speaker through a resolution and vote of a two-thirds membership of the House is clear.
The AC had announced the removal of Garuba on the claim that 16 members (two-thirds) of the House signed the purported resolution. However, the PDP had insisted that only 13 AC members, including Omokhodion, who defected from the PDP to the AC on the day it (AC) perpetuated the illegality on the floor, signed the resolution.
The remaining three signatories were victims of deliberate acts of forgery, which the law enforcement agencies are said to be investigating. Besides, there was no voting on the floor, as constitutionally prescribed, to validate Garuba’s removal. But significantly, the court cases against AC’s Omokhodion and the process that threw him up as a pretender to the speakership position are still very much alive.
Now, the judicial remedies being sought by Garuba remain the only potent force to dismantle the reign of impunity in Edo State as typified and popularised by the AC government under Governor Adams Oshiomhole. This is so because of the clear disposition the Oshiomhole government has shown towards the use of subterfuge to achieve and maintain his stranglehold on the state.
This had already manifested in the rerun elections into Akoko Edo Constituency 1 and Etsako Central seats in the State House of Assembly during which Oshiomhole, who has perfected the art of deception through his: “one man, one vote” slogan, deployed the force of intimidation and/or coercion of government machinery to manipulate the voting/election in favour of the AC.
The orchestrated confusion on the floor of the state House of Assembly, which resulted in the unconstitutional removal of Garuba as Speaker, was another foul play of the goverment. The claim by the AC that bombs were planted on the premises of the state House of Assembly and the Edo State Broadcasting Services (EBS) was an outlandish propaganda.
Oshiomhole has, true to his character as a wily labour activist, been able to create some razzmatazz and appeal to popular sentiments about his messianic mission to rebuild Edo from the ruinous state into which his friend, former Governor Lucky Igbinedion of the PDP, brought it for the eight-year he was in the saddle.
Cleverly, Oshiomhole has always laid the blame of Igbinedion’s non-performance at the doorsteps of the undisputed leader of the PDP in the state, Chief Tony Anenih, whom he refers to as a political godfather that must be brought down at all costs. But those who understand how government works know that the mandate belongs to the man in the saddle.
Igbinedion was in the saddle for eight years. Professor Oserhiemen Osunbor was in the saddle for about 18 months. He (Oshiomhole) is currently in the saddle. Like Igbinedion and Osunbor, he takes responsibility for his government’s actions and inaction. Chief Tom Ikimi, Oshiomhole’s godfather and leader of AC, or any other leader for that matter, cannot take responsibility.
Therefore, his continuous bashing of Anenih, which is an act of irresponsible desperation, is yet another foul means, which his followers and those who are easily deceived by his antics applaud as politically correct. But nothing could be more malodorous than this deliberate act of unjustifiable vilification.
Oshiomhole’s plan, it would appear, is to shift the blame in case of his non-performance at the end of the day to the “distractions” by the PDP and its elements. The political atmosphere in Edo State has been polluted by his antics. Unfortunately, many people have begun to see him in the garb of a messiah instead of a purveyor of impunity.
Within Edo State, Oshiomhole’s might is right because he controls the mechanics of government. He has continued to prop up the illegal leadership of the state House of Assembly. There is nothing wrong with that aberration as long as it fits into his plan to achieve a stranglehold on the state. Omokhodion, whom he procured from the PDP, is the speaker regardless of the constitutional breach and procedural incorrectness in foisting him on the House.
Oshiomhole is digging in his feet, even as recognised institutions and bodies outside the state have continued to condemn the act of illegality in the state Assembly. For instance, the House of Representatives condemned the aberration that manifested in the emergence of Omokhodion as speaker and passed a resolution that steps should be taken to return the state legislature and the three local government areas whose chairmen were illegally suspended to status quo.
Oshiomhole spurned the resolution of the House of Representatives; he threw bile at the House and its leadership because the resolution was against his unconstitutional actions. Whereas, when the first move by the House Leader, Hon. Tunde Akogun (from Edo State) to introduce the motion suffered a set-back, the same Oshiomhole praised the House of Representatives to high heavens.
Oshiomhole has a strange attitude: he wants to be adjudged right all the time, even when he is evidently wrong. Suffice it to say that he is intolerant of criticisms; he is disposed to adulation. But he can only have a surfeit of hero- worship in Edo State where he has become an emperor of sort, even when he is encouraging impunity.
However, beyond Edo State, there are voices of reason speaking against Oshiomhole’s culture of unconstitutionality for political mileage. And that was the statement from the Conference of Speakers made to Omokhodion that his speakership was illegal and encumbered, and therefore he had to be excused out of the speakers’ meeting.
The Makurdi treatment is a reminder that the aberration in the Edo State House of Assembly diminishes the state in terms of legislative business. The consensus of opinions in some political circles is that what Omokhodion and the other 12 AC members are doing in the House of Assembly, with the backing of Oshiomhole, is merely AC meetings and not legislative business.
More of such treatment may still come as Nigerians and the people of Edo State wait for the outcome of the court cases initiated by Garuba and his PDP colleagues challenging the aberration of Omokhodion’s “speakership” of the state legislature. Until then, the dance in Edo may, as well, continue.
Asemota contributed this piece from Benin City, Edo State.Share