HomeViews and ReviewsGovernor Demolishes Parliament And No One Cares?

Governor Demolishes Parliament And No One Cares?

By

Felix Oboagwina

I care little for former Rivers State’s Governor Nyesom Wike and the 25 pro-Wike lawmakers in the State House of Assembly. However, in their current quarrel with the incumbent Governor Simi Fubara (the godson who succeeded Wike), only one factor works against Wike in the court of public opinion: In the 2023 elections, the Rivers strongman worked for the emergence of Bola Ahmed Tinubu as President; and Tinubu has today raised Nigerians’ pain and poverty to record proportions! President Tinubu’s failures solely win for Fubara massive support in this lingering faceoff with Wike, his erstwhile godfather, predecessor and current Minister of the Federal Capital Territory.

Rivers State’s Governor Simi Fubara arriving on an impromptu visit to the House of Assembly

This colourless former Rivers State Accountant-General emerged as the Dark Horse and clinched the Rivers governorship completely by the grace of Wike. How? In the penchant of political godfathers to prepare for themselves a soft post-office landing, by planting spineless acolytes as successors, Wike manipulated Fubara over far popular and formidable aspirants, and handed him PDP’s Rivers State governorship ticket. Wike financed all the campaigns, swayed the rostrum with his oratory and persona, brought in the votes and handed Fubara the election on a platter of gold. But talk of Karma. Not only has Fubara turned around to bite the fingers that moulded him, he has injured Democracy in the most unimaginable fashion.

As the Yoruba say, the new king devours the kingmaker first. Fubara turned against Wike and rubbished him. Not done, Fubara, late 2023, stormed the Rivers State House of Assembly (having majority 25-7 as Wike PDP loyalists), with police firing gunshots and water cannons to keep the rampaging Governor at bay!

His supporters thereafter set ablaze the Parliament building.

Fubara then sent the demolition squad to bulldoze the entire complex to smithereens.

Every single one of these anti-legislative steps amounted to a desecration of Democracy and an assault on a sacred institution of popular government. It amounts to treason!

This much President Tinubu told Fubara to his face when the First Citizen brokered peace between these gladiator. The Parliament, everywhere, exists as the truest representation of the people and the incontrovertible custodian of Democracy. Whereas the Executive and the Judiciary exist in other forms of government (autocracy, military, monarchical), the Legislature’s participation distinguishes Democracy from all of them. Thus, demolishing its habitation connotes the highest threat to Democracy. The Congress is an institution; and we have always mouthed the need to build strong institutions as opposed to strong politicians.

Fubara went further. Most recently, he AGAIN stormed the makeshift accommodation that the Rivers Parliament resorted to at the Assembly Quarters. Then, on May 10, “Emperor” Fubara enacted an Executive Order to force the House of Assembly to hold its sittings inside the Government House! Sacrilege! Whatever happened to the Doctrine of the Separation of Powers?

Imagine the contradiction. An Executive Order passed on the Legislature! The Executive ORDERS the Legislature! How can? Nowhere does the Constitution place the control of the Legislature (and the Judiciary) under the Executive.

These assaults the Rivers State Legislature has endured.

Pray, who advises this guy?

The Legislature is made so potently powerful that the Constitution allows it to overrule the Governor and railroad a Bill into law without his consent.

Section 96(5) says:

Where the Governor withholds assent and the bill is again passed by the House of Assembly by two-thirds majority, the bill shall become law and the assent of the Governor shall not be required.

Even the budget of the Legislature, like that of the Judiciary, goes by first-line charge, all in order to ensure its independence and the Separation of Powers.

How can a Governor with the vast resources at his disposal prove incapable of lobbying, courting and winning over the State House of Assembly, and instead His Excellency resorts to thuggish, strong-arm tactics? You wonder what terror this character wouldn’t unleash if backed by a Rivers State Police Force completely at his beck and call!

Fubara-Wike’s wahala factionalised the House of Assembly 25 to seven and the Accountant-General-turned Governor chose to work with the minority, in clear violation of Section 96 that says:

(1) The quorum of a House of Assembly shall be one-third of all the members of the House.

(2) If objection is taken by any member of a House of Assembly present that there are present in that House (besides the person presiding) fewer than one-third of all the members of that House and that it is not competent for the House to transact business, and after such interval as may be prescribed in the rules of procedure of the House, the person presiding ascertains that the number of members present is still less than one-third of all the members of the House, he shall adjourn the House.

The majority of Rivers legislators, for political expediency and most likely to take cover under the Federal might, crossed carpet to the ruling APC.

Commissioners are resigning from Fubara’s cabinet, citing the toxic atmosphere working with him.

The 23 local government chairmen have drawn a battle line with him.

All these could be predictable because most of those officials owe their emergence in office and pledge loyalty to Wike. They all jumped ship after Fubara, egged on by whomever, flung reconciliation with Wike against the rocks.

Contrary to President Tinubu’s peace agreement that Fubara and Wike’s group signed December 2023 at Aso Rock, the Governor refused to re-present the 2024 budget to the State House of Assembly, continuing to work with an illegal Appropriation Act passed by a mere seven out of 32 lawmakers. This he did even when, in the spirit of that agreement, the majority Wike group of legislators withdrew their lawsuits against him and aborted impeachment proceedings on the understanding that the budget would be properly presented for passage.

Bottom line? The crisis in Rivers goes beyond a Fubara-Wike brouhaha. It queries the very essence of Nigeria’s Democracy and the sanctity of the Nigerian Constitution.

Everyone taking sides does so with the mentality of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” But power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Those beating the drum for Fubara’s dance of madness are pushing Nigerian Democracy to ride the back of a tiger. How do you end the ride without Democracy ending up as a meal down the tiger’s throat?

If Fubara’s style of burning, demolishing and choking the Legislature becomes a culture, then what fate befalls this Democracy? If the President takes a cue and chooses to tackle the National Assembly in a similar style? What species of Legislature will the Upper and Lower Chambers turn to, being Executive-ordered to perform legislative duties right inside the Aso Rock Villa, under the nose of the President?

The problem that lovers of Democracy must tackle is stopping Fubara becoming a role model for how the Executive can emasculate and stifle the Legislature’s independence at the state and Federal levels. Or are we going to let Fubara get away with this abuse of the Parliament because of the disdain we nurse for his adversaries, Wike and Tinubu?

OBOAGWINA IS AN AUTHOR, JOURNALIST AND PUBLISHER, REACHABLE VIA: [email protected]

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