CHECKING LAWLESSNESS IN ABIA HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY
Legislators are addressed as “honourable”, and are expected to conduct themselves honourably. But the conduct of the suspended minority leader of Abia House of Assembly, Abraham Oba, has put this “honourability” to question.
Oba was few days ago suspended by the House for what could best be described as” legislative lawlessness”. He, in company of other members of the opposition party, All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA addressed a conference where they dissociated themselves from the approval earlier given to the request by Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu to seek and obtain a facility of N30billion.
The House had earlier approved a facility of N30billion in response to a request from Gov. Ikpeazu for the assembly to give a legislative backing to the loan.
Contravening Rule 40 , paragraphs 1&2 of the Abia House of Assembly, which states that (1):”No member may speak to any question after the same has been fully put by Mr. Speaker or Chairman(2)A question is fully put when Mr. Speaker or The Chairman has collected the voice both of the Ayes and the nays”, Oba addressed a press conference where he usurped the duties of the speaker.
In the advertorial, in one of the national dailies, that accompanied the press conference, the governor was even directed to “come to the House to properly brief members on the actual purpose for which the facility was sought”.
As laughable as Oba’s conduct may be, certain vital questions have been raised. What further explanations was he seeking when, according to the speaker, Rt. Hon. Martins Azubuike,” the House followed due process before passing the resolution”.
The speaker in a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Prince Clinton Uba, said” the members therefore did the needful by first handling the matter in the plenary, without breaching any legislation or existing law”. One would have expected Oba to seek for explanations during the process of passing the resolution.
To insult the sensibilities of Abians further, Oba and his cohorts want us to believe that the action purportedly serves the interest of the people by saying:” That we also wish to use this opportunity to reassure our constituents and Abians in general of our firm resolve to provide credible opposition and ensure quality and people-oriented legislation, transparency in the conduct of government business through our oversight functions and the realisation of the desired positive change in the state”.
Oba needs to be reminded and thoroughly-tutored as well that violating the rules of the House does not in any way translate to opposition, not to talk of a credible one. He also needs to be reminded that acting on the prodding of his party to truncate a process that would better the lots of Abians, including his constituents, does not in any way translate to providing a credible opposition.
A credible opposition should be issue-based, articulated and intellectually- minded. A credible opposition should provide an alternative and not criticism for the sake of criticism.
Oba’s action is simply an extension of his party’s opposition approach which has found a new love in criticising the laudable programmes and projects of Gov. Ikpeazu. It will be recalled that since the House approved the resolution empowering the governor to seek the facility, the faction of APGA in Abia State, led by one Augustine Ehiemere has continuously churned out half- baked press releases condemning it.
While APGA could be excused, Oba should not by any stretch be excused. His conduct is not only a serious indictment on his party alone, but his constituents, who purportedly gave him the mandate.
It is glaring that the economy of the country, which is occasioned by the prices of oil globally, has put both the states and federation on their toes. It is also compelling enough to put infrastructure in place to attract private sector driven economy and partnership.
I wish that Oba would use the period of his suspension to learn that the hallowed chambers of a legislative house is not the appropriate place to market ignorance and engage in disreputable actions.
Written by Okechukwu Ukegbu, a Public Affairs Analyst.