FREEPRESS – The threat by the National Assembly to take over the running of the Edo and Bauchi states Houses of Assembly for failing to comply with the rule of law got the backing of the All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday.
The ruling party said it will not condone any act of impunity by its members or members of the opposition, urging the National Assembly to carry out its constitutional mandate.
At a news conference, APC National Publicity Secretary Lanre Issa-Onilu also blamed the media for taking the issue of the Edo House of Assembly beyond the narratives.
According to him, it is wrong of the media to make the crisis rocking the Edo Assembly look as an Oshiomhole versus Obaseki affair.
Issa-Onilu urged the media to support the rule of law by asking the basic question of whether the right thing was done in both Edo and Bauchi states, stressing that since the right thing was not done in the inauguration of both assemblies, the governors should respect the rule of law and do the right thing.
He said: “I want to refocus the public through the media on what the issues are. There is one common issue for both Bauchi and Edo, which is about the proper inauguration of the Houses of Assembly in both states. Every other issue or story around it is just as unimportant to us as anything else.
“In Bauchi, we all saw what happened. A 31-member House of Assembly and just a few members, about 11 members, hurriedly gathered themselves and purportedly inaugurated the House of Assembly. That is taking us back five, six, seven years and Nigeria has passed that stage.
“In Edo also, you have a situation where you have nine members, some of them in shorts knickers because they were hurriedly put together and purportedly claimed to have inaugurated the House of Assembly and actually put in place a leadership structure to run the Assembly where you have 24 members who are legitimate members of the legislature.
“The media has actually not focused on what the issues are, but has allowed itself to be led away from the issue. Now, we are talking about somebody versus another.
“It is all good for us because it is not just about a PDP (Peoples Democratic Party) state; we also have our own state involved and it means that we use the same standard, which is the standard we want to apply everywhere, whether it is a PDP state or APC.
“As a party, we have demonstrated that we want to focus on what the best practices are. In this case, the rule of law has to be followed and we have demonstrated that even at the national level.
”Just a few weeks ago, the same thing happened at the National Assembly. All the party did for over two months after we won election was to work within the party to ensure that we get what we wanted at the National Assembly.
“We did not do anything to compromise the process. All we did was to get our members to rally behind our candidates and when we got to the National Assembly, we also realised that, even though we had objection to them using a forged House rule, which called for secret ballot, contrary of what we have in the proper House rule, which called for open ballot, we still subjected ourselves to that and nobody can fault the process.
“What happened at the National Assembly was transparent and the people elected got elected through the process by following the rules to the letter. So, as a ruling party, we have demonstrated that we are not going to be involved in impunity and we have showed that Nigeria has left the bus station of impunity.
“I feel ashamed as a member of APC that a state where we have a governor is involved in this kind of impunity. It is not something that sinks well with members of this party because that is not the kind of reputation that we want to have.
“We would have conveniently dealt with Bauchi because it is a PDP state and whatever is going on there is not strange because that is what has been the practice under PDP, even though we are no longer going to allow it in this country, no matter what party is ruling, including an APC state. This is the issue. It is not about somebody claiming that he has not been allowed to govern.
“I don’t understand exactly what that is supposed to mean. Is it that you want to construct road and you were not allowed or you want to build hospital and they said don’t do that or you want to make life comfortable for your people and somebody is stopping you? Is there such a situation in Edo? That is the only time somebody can say I am not being allowed to be governor.
“But when you say because I am not allowed to carry through impunity, then you are not allowed to govern, then that sounds more like PDP state and it is not something that we are comfortable with as members of APC. Irrespective of what party is involved in this, as a party, we will not allow it. The proper thing must be done in Bauchi and Edo. Nothing more.
“Whatever some party leaders in Edo and Bauchi are saying is their personal opinion. This issue has nothing to do with the National Chairman. The same thing is happening in Bauchi and Edo. So, who is responsible for the one in Bauchi? Can we just address the issue and not allow people take us away from the issues and mislead us?
“The issue is that there was supposed to be a proper proclamation of the House of Assembly in Edo and Bauchi and what happened in both cases fell short of expectations. So, do the right thing. You can deal with whoever you think is your problem. That is a different issue.
“Our only concern here is that whereever, either in Bauchi, Edo or anywhere else, the rule of law must guide whatever we do. Enough of impunity in this country and we will not take it. The question of what we are going to do as a party?
“What should happen is that the National Assembly is clearly empowered in a situation where it is clear that a particular house of assembly is incapable of conducting its business; the law is clear on what should be done. So, every other thing about godfather, godson is irrelevant to this issue.
“The issue is simple. Did you do it the right way? If you didn’t, go and do the right thing. Nothing can happen in this country that will permit you to break the law and then look for an excuse. If you have broken the law, then go and amend it. It is as simple as that.
“You talk about the level of culpability of the national chairman in not allowing other members to enter the house of assembly or how? It is easy for people to want to turn it to Oshiomhole versus Obaseki.
“Ok, what would you say in Bauchi. Bala Mohammed versu who? It is Obaseki versus the rule of law. It is Bala versus the rule of law. To try to put any other person where you should put the rule of law is to work hand in hand with people who are breaking the law.
“There is procedure for you to inaugurate a house of assembly. Did you do the right thing? Bring your argument strictly on this. Is that because you have not been allowed to carry out impunity, so, you have not been allowed to be governor?
“Let me say clearly that it is the same Oshiomhole that told the people of Edo State that they should have no respect for godfathers. If the issue is about Obaseki now wanting to be godfather, then, unfortunately, the people of Edo State will not allow anybody to be their godfather.
“They have elected people who should represent them and they are saying ‘allow these people to function’, and that is what democracy asks of us. Anything short of that is not just the issue.
“We are not aware of any house committee report indicting anybody. The law is clear on what the House of Reps and the Senate are supposed to do in a situation like this. It is not to pronounce guilt or declare anybody innocent. There should be no attempt to divert attention. The issue is about the rule of law and I think the media should champion the rule of law.”
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