Saturday, 29 November 2014

Democracy In Danger; The Political Indecency In Ekiti


THE theatre of political absurdity which Ekiti State is fast turning to is highly despicable and should be condemned by every peace-loving Nigerian. Suddenly, democracy in the state has assumed a dangerous object of derision by stakeholders, no thanks to those politicians who decided to pervert legality and constitutionality in the quest for power. Having been directly accused of masterminding the crisis – and unless he can show otherwise through concrete means – it will be difficult for Governor Ayo Fayose to stand blameless in the ensuing breach of constitutional order.
Lagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola, SAN (right) addressing the crowd during a joint peaceful protest by Lagos and Ekiti House of Assembly members on the purported removal of the Ekiti State’s House of Assembly Speaker, Hon. Adewale Omirin, at the Lagos House, Ikeja, on Friday, November 21, 2014.

In a brazen confrontation between the executive and a section of the legislature with allegiance to the opposition, the politicians appear set on the road to self-destruction, with perilous implications for democracy in the state (self-styled land of honour) and generally in the country. 
    Sadly, the present state administration is giving cause for comparisons so early in the day between it and the preceding government. Why is the Fayose government seemingly acquiring the reputation of one obsessed with committing illegalities? The governor, coming for the second time after a hard-fought electoral battle, has a lot to do to change his public perception and prove his critics wrong.
    Those ugly post-inauguration developments are enough to throw the state into crisis if not well managed, apart from signposting very difficult times ahead for the two important arms of government. Unfortunately, the innocent people of Ekiti will be the ultimate losers in the power play. 
   The brewing crisis first manifested as seven lawmakers in the governor’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) reportedly threw constitutional provisions overboard at the hallowed chamber they forcefully occupied. They sat and approved three nominees for commissionership and approved the governor’s request to constitute the transition committees for the 16 local governments – earlier rejected by the full House – pending elections into same (the council seats are currently a subject of legal dispute). 
   The seven lawmakers claimed 10 of them were in attendance but they have not been able to identify the additional three other “lawmakers.” The majority 19 opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) members challenged them to name those who added up the numbers at the “plenary session” in the absence of the substantive Speaker and other principal officers of the House. 
    Ordinarily, this should be a matter for investigation by the police where rule of law prevails; but the police in the state have also been accused of complicity in the saga, openly providing full cover for the audacious minority group to impose their will over the majority.
What has turned out to be a reckless abuse of the constitution further played out a few days after as the same clique of seven, emboldened by their first successful house coup, unconstitutionally again, removed the Speaker in similar bizarre circumstances in the same hallowed chamber. Although the other 19 members have threatened to test the legal propriety of the action of their seven colleagues, they have had to flee the state for fear of their safety. Their decision to go to court is, however, laudable amid the brazen, questionable action of the seven lawmakers. This is where Governor Fayose must show that he had not lent support illegally to his party legislators.  
   Two significant factors are discernible in the Ekiti imbroglio. One, the PDP Seven obviously took a cue from the bad precedent set in times past in a state like Bayelsa that saw the then governor impeached within five minutes. Two, the police have become so compromised and tending to be attack dogs in the hands of a ruling party. This cannot bode well for peace in the state and the country under any guise.
   In spite of claims to the contrary, Governor Fayose has been accused by the opposition of invasion of the House, attempt to arm-twist the House to do his bidding to tinker with the constitution, confer functions on the caretaker committee chairmen and forcing his way to inaugurate the chairmen without due legislative process. These are grave allegations bordering on subversion of the constitution, which the governor swore to uphold. His silence is unhelpful to the polity.
    The governor needs be reminded that he was elected by his people to govern, not to play to the gallery. Campaigns have ended with his endorsement by the people. With his experience in government in the state, he ought to have settled down by now, attending to problems. So far, he has not displayed that magnanimous spirit to start rallying his people behind him for the task ahead. To start with, he ought to have made moves to accommodate the lawmakers, majority of whom are in the opposition.
   Both the executive and the legislature have to imbibe the principle of reciprocity. Ekiti people are being unjustly taken for a ride. The auguries are bad if 19 lawmakers of the 26 in the House are taking refuge outside the state for fear of their lives, unsure of their governor guaranteeing their safety. How do they meet up with the mandatory minimum 181 days of sitting prescribed by the constitution for lawmakers in the country? Will the seven legislators continue to make laws for millions in the state?
   Nigeria has witnessed so much flagrant abuse and disrespect of constitution by elected officials. Power should be exercised only through due process. The combatants must sheathe their swords in the interest of the people who freely offered the trust and gave them the mandate to serve.  
Via - Guardian

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