The dictatorship in Edo – Part 2
The expectation of the drafters of our Constitution is that every State will have a full blown cabinet, comprising Commissioners and Special Advisers, who would develop policies around their specific ministries based on their expertise and present the same before the cabinet for debate and final approval. In this regard, intellectual debates will flourish and ideas will contend, leading to very robust engagements, for the good of the State. How can a single individual be the Commissioner for Works, Commissioner for Land, Housing, Chieftaincy Affairs, Local Government, Finance, Agriculture, etc? What is the experience of Governor Obaseki beyond the touted boardroom politics, to hold Edo State to ransom as if possessed and intoxicated by power? Why is it so difficult for His Excellency to work with people? If he was so powerful, why didn’t he undertake his campaign alone during the last election? Why did he appoint campaign coordinators and agents all over the State? Having governed the State for four years, I expected that even at the time of his campaign for his second term, Governor Obaseki should have assembled a team of technocrats to move Edo State forward.
And if the House of Assembly has been gagged and rendered useless, what is the judiciary in Edo State doing? Where are the activists and the civil society organisations? Or are they also in connivance with the Governor to rubbish the Constitution? Are they part of this sinister plot to rule Edo State from the bedroom of one man? Where are the Comrades from Edo State? What has become of the NGOs? And if all our Comrades are complicit, what about lawyers and the Nigerian Bar Association? Or is the NBA no longer promoting the rule of law in Edo State, the birth place of its dynamic President? Pray, what is the palace saying about this? Edo State parades one of the most revered traditional institutions in our land. Is the palace comfortable with this self-imposed dictatorship? What about the religious institutions? Are there no pastors and imams in Edo State again, where Archbishop Idahosa once held sway? Can they not speak from their exalted pulpits? And if all these are silent, what of the Students’ Unions?
The Edo infamy has now been exported to Osun and Imo States, where the Governors are running riot in governance without regard to democratic principles. The Constitution in its section 1 has placed itself above any individual or group, when it states that: “this Constitution is supreme and its provisions shall have binding force on all authorities and persons throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The Federal Republic of Nigeria shall not be governed nor shall any person or group of persons take control of the Government of Nigeria or any part thereof except in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.” This is so clear and unambiguous, that Governor Obaseki cannot seek to govern Edo State in any manner that is inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution. It should not happen to a State that has produced great and noble minds and patriots.
The way in which we can move Nigeria forward is to use our individual platforms to promote reforms that we desire for the good of our people. In this regard, Governor Obaseki should retrace his steps and immediately set out to constitute a cabinet for the good people of Edo State and stop his one-man rule forthwith. No tenable excuse can be rendered by His Excellency, to explain that one year after his election, he has not found people worthy to be constituted as the State Executive Council, to hold regular meetings with them, to deliberate on policies and programmes that will move the State forward. In a State led by a trumpeted technocrat, assisted by a ‘Comrade’ as his Deputy, we do not expect anything less than transparency, accountability and team work. Democracy can never thrive in the house of one man, in the mind of one man and in the office of one man, no matter the depth of his knowledge and experience. Let us have a cabinet in Edo State now!
Adegboruwa is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).