Edo Assembly’s show of shame
The public show of shame by lawmakers in the Edo State House of Assembly the other day over some political disagreements is a sad reminder of the bastardisation of Nigeria’s democracy, an advertisement of how terribly short of true democrats the political landscape is. With the violence they unleashed on each other as well on the collective psyche of Nigerians, with their failure to act within the rules to advance the tenets of democracy, the dishonourable lawmakers sent out to the world the signals that they are nothing more than promoters of anarchy. They must apologise collectively to the people, and also individually to their respective constituencies over that conduct. Nigeria is, indeed, better off without such a breed of violent combatants who could only settle matters with gun-shots instead of reasoned debates.
Current developments also indicate how much Edo State has gone into a state of flux and the state is getting overheated politically because it is a few months to another governorship election. This probably is a statement on the immaturity of the key actors and operators of the system. This must stop. Whatever good Governor Adams Oshiomhole may have done in office so far stands to be rubbished if he does not work to douse the political tension in Edo State.
Pandemonium broke out as the former Speaker, Victor Edoror, who was accused of greed, was impeached by 16 of the 24 members of the Assembly even though he claimed only 11 lawmakers unconstitutionally perfected his removal. Thugs, of course, were everywhere and in the process, six persons were injured. As the drama got underway after a motion was moved, a lot of pushing and shoving between Edoror and the opposing camp’s candidate for the seat took place in the public glare. In the trail of the chaos were broken glasses and bones as well as damaged property.
Regrettably, the violence was engineered in utter contempt of the sensibilities of the Bini and of the entire state in mourning over the passage of the highly revered monarch, Omo N’Oba Erediuauwa.
In all of these, where is the interest of the peace-loving people of Edo State. What played out among the contending forces that day was mere advertisement of a conflict of selfish interests. And how come, after almost 17 years of practice, an acceptable democratic culture is yet to find form or root in the country? How is it that the people are yet to find reason to genuinely feel proud of their representatives in the legislatures at all levels including the National Assembly, which has also not been saved such odious show? If lawmakers in other climes make violence in their chambers a way of life, must Nigerians copy such bad examples?
These questions bring to the fore the recurring issue of the recruitment process into political offices in Nigeria. A large section of the electorate is very guilty of passivity and even complicity. Through financial or other inducements during the selection process, they put the wrong candidates forward for elective offices. So guilty are the political parties too which, with the absence of internal democracy, are yet to come clean in the selection procedures. There is so much political corruption in the air through which wrong candidates or those without capacity for the important jobs are thrown into offices.
Screening for the best must therefore, be emphasized in the communities and the parties. The people of Edo State and indeed Nigerians must imbibe the orientation of sending the best to offices in the general interest of the people. Taking such a step is the only way to the political or even economic development of the country and ultimately the advancement of democracy.
Again, so much desperation has become the norm for contestants who look forward to huge material rewards in offices that ordinarily should be executed on a part-time basis. The financial gain for the lawmaker’s job especially at both the state level and the centre must be therefore reviewed to make service to the people count more.
Meanwhile, those Edo lawmakers broke the laws guiding peaceful conduct and they have committed a crime against the state for which they deserve to be sanctioned. The interest of the people is paramount and is well above some politicians’ petty politics or political interest.
Democracy abhors anarchy and what happened in Edo State must not go unpunished if Nigeria’s democracy would be deepened.