The National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, has reacted to the latest crisis in the Edo State House of Assembly.
In a statement he personally signed on Friday, the former Lagos State governor blamed the state governor, Godwin Obaseki, for the crisis, saying his action was “the gravest possible assault on constitutional democracy and the rule of law.
He added that the crisis was an escalation of violence and tension in the state the governor purports to govern.
At least 17 members of the House had on Thursday morning impeached the Speaker of the Assembly, Frank Okiye, and his deputy, Roland Asoro, during an emergency session held at the Assembly complex in Benin.
The 14 lawmakers who were left out during the inauguration of the Assembly in May last year were sworn in during the exercise.
Tinubu accused Obaseki of making a mockery of Nigeria’s constitution by blocking the timely inauguration of two-thirds of the elected members of the Assembly, and now resorting to the strong-arm tactics of dictators.
According to him, the governor sponsored hoodlums to deface and destroyed parts of the Assembly building in Benin while feigning ignorance that the building was undergoing renovation.
He noted that by this singular act, Obaseki spent state “funds to thwart the very apparatus of the state government he was sworn to uphold.”
Tinubu said: “Then, he imports sand and gravels to prevent access to the Assembly complex.
“The governor squandered public money to defeat the very will of the public. This is tragic beyond words.
“As a pretext for his refusal to allow the Edo House of Assembly to function, Governor Obaseki’s actions are perverse. This is a cowardly act and a move to thwart representative democracy in Edo.
“No renovation has been planned for the state house building. No appropriation was made in the state’s budget. The only reason any renovation could be deemed necessary is the destruction wrought by his own goons.
“Governor Obaseki’s governance of Edo State recalls the worst excesses of our military past and represents a direct threat to the democratic order. By his refusal to permit duly elected members of the Edo State House of Assembly to perform their constitutional duties, Governor Obaseki betrayed contempt for the people of his state and, unfortunately, his ignorance of Nigeria’s constitutional order. As a governor he ought to know better than to obstruct the functioning of his own legislature, but perhaps he is in need of a quick lesson.
“The legislative function is, perhaps, the most foundational obligation of any government. In the UK, the Parliament was famously said to be “that supreme and absolute power, which gives life and motion to the English government”. In most democratic systems, the legislature is the arm of government containing within itself the people’s representatives in government.
“As such, the legislative arm is critical. It is an important symbol of democratic governance. The voice, will and desires of the people are reposed in their elected representatives sent to the legislature to express and distil their amorphous will into the laws and codes by which the society has agreed to live.
“In the context of a constitutional democracy such as ours, the legislature’s authority stems, in effect, from the recognition that it is the authentic mouthpiece of the people, entrusted with the responsibility of representing their collective will and the power to interpret and mould it into the laws of the land. It is, in short, not to be toyed with as a plaything of an errant and ill-disciplined governor. Undermine the legislature and you imperil democracy and allow governance to descend into anarchy.”
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