EVIDENCE of the virility of most democracies is a thriving legislative branch of government. In Nigeria’s presidential setting, the legislatures at all levels of government are framed to act independently.Edo lawmakers storm
Whereas the two chambers of the National Assembly have maintained a semblance of independence, most of the legislatures of the 36 State Houses of Assembly have remained trapped in our military past and tied to the apron-strings of the Governors.
Recent developments in the Edo State and Bauchi State Houses of Assembly bring to the fore the penchant of politicians to pander to selfish pursuits in a total departure from the rule of law.
The Edo State House of Assembly was inaugurated on June 18, 2019, with ten of the 24 members-elect in session. Somehow, 14 members-elect were not aware of the inauguration that was remarkably staged late in the night. Following the induction of two more lawmakers, the legislature is now made up of 12 members with the others refusing to recognise the elected Speaker, Frank Okiye.
A similar narrative also played out in Bauchi State where 11 of 31 members-elect were inaugurated on June 20, 2019. They elected Abubakar Suleiman as the Speaker.
The other 20 legislators were locked out of the inauguration which was held early in the morning, before the usual commencement of government business.
The remaining 20 members-elect, some hours later, elected Kawuwa Damina as Speaker outside the chambers, thus fictionalising the Bauchi State House of Assembly. In both states, it can be seen that the factions could not have emerged without the overbearing influence of powerful forces exogenous to the legislature.
These developments call for serious concern. In the two Houses, political actors have in the face of seeming constitutional lacunas, acted in self-help to promote their political interests at the expense of tradition and parliamentary decorum, especially conducting legislative business at odd hours when there is no emergency to warrant such.Also read: APC tackles Obaseki, Muhammed, rejects inauguration of State Assemblies
Nigeria’s democracy cannot thrive when political actors promote their selfish interests outside due procedures as outlined in Section 94(1) of the 1999 Constitution (as Amended). It gives each member present the right to participate in electing the Speaker and Deputy Speaker.
We strongly condemn the resort to self-help in the inauguration of the legislative branches of government. Not being in tune with the Constitution, they are not legitimate.
We call on all political actors in the two states to move with urgency to break the stalemate. But in the absence of that, the National Assembly should act within its constitutional powers and take over the affairs of the two legislative Houses.