I heard people talk about Oshiomhole’s faction and Godwin’s faction. The truth is that I don’t have any faction. We founded the party from ACN to APC. It hurts when people can’t make a distinction between policy positions and unhealthy debate about options in dealing with specific issues.
Let me start with the issue of the inauguration of the Edo State House of Assembly. I was governor when PDP had 16 members and we, while in ACN then, had eight members.
But we had to learn how to live with the reality that the parliament was in the hands of opposition, so all we needed to do was to cultivate ways and means of playing up what united us as a people and getting the opposition to recognize that we were all elected even from different political parties for a purpose, namely the sustainable development of Edo state.
And we managed that until the people favored us with the majority. Right now in Edo, we are obviously far more fortunate that all the 24 members of the House belong to APC.
So, no matter the differences about preferred speakers, I don’t think this was enough for us to breach all the rules, regulations, customs and traditions that were well entrenched as regards the simple straight forward matter of proclaiming a House of Assembly.
When I see Nigerians taking a side on it, I just pity people who can’t make a difference between your personal affection or love for someone and dealing with issues of principles and law.
Now, I remain convinced that it is not in the interest of our democracy for nine members of an elected parliament to seek to secretly inaugurate a House at 9:30pm, which I understand the Supreme Court in another judgment has described as nocturnal hours, so that a particular person can emerge as a Speaker and in the process you exclude 15 members elected.
Nine persons cannot elect the Speaker or Deputy Speaker on behalf of 24 members. Number two, it is also the tradition and the law that when you are elected by your various constituencies, the day of your inauguration is not a state secret to be shared by those who are favored.
The proclamation must be published starting time and date. If there is any Nigerian who has followed inaugurations in the 36 states and the FCT, it is a settled fact that a proclamation letter must be communicated by the clerk to all the members-elect so that they can go there that day with their families and loved ones.
Now to try and do that at 9:30 pm, even if it was done by my biological son, God will give me the courage to tell my son that this institution is governed by law. Parliament is an autonomous arm of government, delete it and there will be no democracy.
So, we pointed out what I thought would be obvious to every Nigerian that first, four members out of the nine, who are already in the minority, have said they were invited for an informal conversation with the deputy governor, from where they were bundled into a waiting vehicle and were driven to the House of Assembly.
They were then forced to take the oath of office against their wish. One of them was wearing a short. These are facts, the people have spoken, they are still alive, they are still protesting.
Then somebody said that because I am the National Chairman of the party, I ought to turn the other way. If it is wrong in Bauchi to have a secret inauguration, how can it be accommodated in Edo state? For me, these are the issues. And it is shameful that in this case, all the 24 are APC members.
As a former governor who had the privilege of presiding over Edo state for eight years, I will tell you that there is little or nothing the executive can do in the final analysis. I was there at Government House Benin, not too far away from Anthony Enahoro’s building, the seat of the parliament when I heard that the parliament met and decided to change their leadership, and there was nothing I could do about it.
It was their privilege to do. So, the issue is not between me and the governor; anybody who suggests that is just being mischievous.
It is about what is right and what is wrong.