The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele, has condemned the recent actions of Governor Godwin Obaseki against the Edo State House of Assembly, describing the actions as unlawful, subversive and a damning threat to democracy in Nigeria.
In his response to Journalists’ questions in Ado Ekiti on Sunday, 9th August, 2020; Sen. Bamidele stressed that the continued onslaughts on the Honourable members of the Edo State House of Assembly by Obaseki should be condemned and resisted by all lovers of democracy because the legislature is an integral and critical component of democracy anywhere around the world.
Bamidele maintained that the deliberate and inordinate sabotage of the legitimate activities of the lawmakers in the State legislature is a direct invitation to anarchy and this must be promptly halted before the situation is allowed to get out of hands.
Bamidele, a New York Attorney and member of the Nigerian Body of Benchers, who is also a seasoned and well experienced public administrator and two-term federal lawmaker, pointed out that the legislature, because of its representative power in a democracy, is the mirror of the will of the the people.
According to him, ‘the legislature is the chief means of expressing popular will, a body that can speak on behalf of, and for, the people. It is, therefore, the assembly of the people’s minds and the general will of the populace within a polity’.
Sen. Bamidele emphasized that the desperation of Governor Obaseki to secure a second term in office should not be allowed to desecrate, destroy and totally subvert the legislative institution in Edo State. He maintained that democratic sustainability demands that political players should moderate and caution their political behaviours in order to safeguard the sanctity of democracy and institutions of democratic governance, adding that throwing caution to the wind by gladiators may likely jettison survival of democracy and the genuine desires and aspirations of the people.
Bamidele implored the civil society community and other Stakeholders of the political process in Nigeria to prevail on Obaseki to allow members of the Edo State House of Assembly resume their constitutional duties without further delay, saying that the continued brazen efforts aimed at debarring the Edo State lawmakers from performing their legislative functions as required by law is not only a contempt against the wishes of the good people of Edo State but also a gross violation of the 1999 Constitution as well as a punitive expedition against democratic governance in Nigeria.
He, therefore, urged Governor Obaseki to rescind his actions in the interest of peace and tranquility in the State and desist from taking actions that may likely cause irreparable damage to the democratic institutions, thereby encouraging the total breakdown of law and order in the State.
Bamidele stressed that as elected representatives of the people, Edo State lawmakers have the responsibility, as spelt out by law, to make laws for peace, order and the well being of the people of the State and should not be hindered by any means whatsover, from performing the duties which they owe the people of Edo State who voted for them.
According to Bamidele, ‘the wanton wastage of the resources and the hard-earned Edo State tax payers’ money on the platter of vindictive politics, campaign of calumny, political arm-twisting and the continued halt of legislative activities in the Edo State House of Assembly is inimical to democracy and an affront against the people whose votes Obaseki is currently desperately courting to get a second term.
Speaking further, Bamidele said “unfortunately, Obaseki is a political and constitutional monster created by APC itself, first by initially buying into his make belief and pseudo technocrat posture, which impressed Comrade Oshiomole so much that he even had to lie against himself and hardworking members of his team by holding Obaseki out as the ‘brain box’ of his administration as Governor in Edo State in a bid to help him win an election; and secondly by tolerating his act of illegality and extreme perfidy by choosing a few allies out of the vast majority of popularly elected members of the State House of Assembly to be inaugurated by him, on his own terms and at his chosen venue, as his own brand of State Legislature. He has since administered the State, including seeking and obtaining authority for appropriation of public funds on the basis of this illegality. ”
“Thankfully, the same APC is fully reawakened in Edo State and is determined, with the support of its leadership as well as people and institutions of goodwill across the nation, to, within the ambit of the law and democratic norms, wrestle impunity to the ground and rescue Edo people and democracy from the reckless clutches and desperate grip of one man dictatorship that seems to care less about the legal and political implications of its sheer recklessness. Rather than heed patriotic advice and yield to voices of reason, it has become typical for Governor Obaseki and his marketers to accuse any leader, within or outside Edo State, who criticises him of being angry at him because he is not giving them Edo State money to share, forgetting that this “holier than thou” posture is awaiting a litmus test that would eventually reveal the extent of his integrity as a public office holder.
In the meantime, let Governor Obaseki just respect the rule of law and come to terms with the fact that the Legislature is another arm of Government and no Governor should be so much of an incredible hawk as to be able to pocket or render ineffective that arm of Government in flagrant disobedience of our Constitution as well as the plethora of judicial authorities and global best practices.
It is important that lovers of democracy look well to see beyond mere electioneering campaign in Edo State. More importantly, all hands must be on deck to save democracy and prevent anarchy. The media and the civil society must show more interest in the real issues in Edo. Of course, the National Assembly must also stand up decisively at this point for Edo State legislature and for Edo people if the Governor makes it impossible for the State House of Assembly to function. No individual should succeed in holding our democracy and rule of law and order to ransom. Unfortunately, for Governor Obaseki, he seems to have forgotten that the ALL PROGRESSIVES CONGRESS, not Godwin Obaseki, was the name on the INEC ballot paper four years ago and there is a limit to which he can absolutise his personal political sagacity or assumed popularity. Whether he likes it or not, Edo people will still make their choice this year between APC as the ruling party and any of the several other political parties whose names and logo will be on the INEC ballot paper.”
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