By NBF News

The bedlam at Edo Assembly
Sunday, March 07, 2010
The recent show of shame in the hallowed chambers of Edo State House of Assembly which snowballed into a free for all between the Action Congress (AC) members and their Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) counterparts is distasteful.

According to reports, the fracas was ignited when AC members in the House effected a change of leadership that witnessed the impeachment of the erstwhile Speaker, Hon. Zakawanu Garuba of the PDP, and his replacement with Hon. Bright Omokhodion, a PDP legislator that defected to the AC.

The change, which was not welcome by some PDP legislators, led to a bloodbath, where axes, tear gas, the Speaker's gavel and any imaginable weapon of warfare were deployed. At the end of the fiasco, which left many legislators wounded, three lawmakers were hospitalized following injuries sustained.

Though impeachment of public officers in the country is sanctioned by the constitution, it must follow due process. The use of fists, cudgels and other destructive weapons are never part of this process. Impeachment of political office holders, if not constitutionally done, can still be challenged in a competent court of law instead of resorting to jungle justice and self-help as was the case in Edo.

That dangerous weapons were freely used during the unfortunate bedlam showed that the legislators threw decorum and decency to the winds. This throwing of chairs and any object within reach during stormy sessions of some of our legislative Houses has regrettably become a common feature of this democratic dispensation. It ought not to be so.

We strongly condemn the recent dishonourable behaviour of some members of Edo State House of Assembly. It shows that the affected legislators are yet to imbibe the democratic spirit which encourages exchange of views on any contentious issue rather than going physical. The recourse to might is right and jungle justice is a minus to the current democratic dispensation. It obliterates whatever democracy stands for. Ordinarily, legislators in the House of Assembly ought to be making laws that would guide the conduct of members of the society. The House should be a law-making body and not one to be desecrated by unruly physical combat.

There is no doubt that the power tussle that engendered this problem cannot be entirely divorced from prebendal politics in our polity; especially politics as dictated by political godfathers that dot the political firmament.

It is this type of politics that breeds the discontent that fuels brigandage, savagery and lawlessness in the polity. The situation obtains because the so-called elders of these political parties are not good examples to their followers. At times, some of these crises are orchestrated with their tacit connivance and support.

All the same, it is sad that Edo State, which witnessed eight years of famine, cannot have respite now. The recurring political crises in the state cannot guarantee stability and good governance that Edo citizens need now. The governor, Adams Oshiomhole, needs to work with the Assembly for things to work. And this can only be possible when there is stability in the House.

It is high time the elders in both AC and PDP called their supporters to order. They should understand that Edo State is bigger than any of them and will outlive them. What Edo needs now is stability in the state executive as well as the legislative body. Bickering among any of the three arms of government will not augur well for the governance of the state. Should the problem be allowed to continue, the ultimate losers would be the suffering citizens of the state.

In future elections, let a background test be run on the candidates to determine their suitability for elective office. If such was done before earlier elections, the current bickering and acrimony among politicians might not crop up.