POLITICAL METABOLISM: SPINELESS HONOURABLES
Asked his agenda for the legislative house, the newly elected Speaker of the Benue State House of Assembly, Hon. Dave Iorhemba told correspondents last week that the House which he is leading would fit itself into the vision he claimed had been encapsulated by Governor Gabriel Suswam.
'His Excellency, the Governor of the State, Dr. Gabriel Suswam has already set out an agenda for his government and it is that agenda that we are following,' Hon. Iorhenmba was quoted as saying.
That confession again showed the sheer ignorance, or perhaps timidity that many legislative houses in the country have reduced that arm of government at all levels to. It is even alarmingly worse at the state level.
At the federal level there is some spasmodic expression of independence when either the Senate or the House of Representatives shows some modicum of independence.
At the local government level, that is where and when Governors allow the democratic system of government to function, irritable councilors flex their muscles, even if only it is to extort some funds or whatever form of gratification from the local government chairman.
However, at the state level all over the country many legislative houses have become not just appendages of the Governors, but in some cases have turned themselves into errand boys for the executive.
The assertion by Speaker Iorhemba claiming that the House of Assembly would fit itself into the vision of the Governor clearly demonstrates that for all intentions that the Benue House of Assembly would in all its actions go out to please Governor Suswam.
It was not meant to be so.
While Section 6 of the constitution vests the powers of lawmaking in the State House of Assembly, section 7 affirms that 'The House of Assembly of a State shall have power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the State….' It is an onerous duty that many legislators have pitiably not aligned themselves to.
It is as such not surprising that in some other climes that many persons with inclination to public service direct their attention towards the legislature to influence public policy. But in these climes it is rather the reverse as the culture of impunity built up from military rule clouds the mentality of the public and those in authority.
All over the country the situation in Benue seems to have become the norm rather than the exception, notably in states where the same party is in control of both the executive and the legislative branches of government. The exception perhaps for now is in Nasarawa where the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC is in control of the Governor's Mansion while the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP sustains its relevance in that state with its control of the state legislature.
A similar situation of sheer spinelessness is also playing out in Delta State. The state legislators in a rare expression of concern for the citizenry recently voiced out their concern on the abandonment of many of the legacy projects of the present administration.
However, instead of tackling the issue heads on by summoning the responsible authorities of the administration, the legislators raised a resolution to go on forced holiday from their paid job unless the contractors returned to execute the jobs.
Given that the legislators are supposed to have oversight over the executive arm of government and with powers to summon the commissioners, the legislators' action was generally seen as a show of sophistry.
Faced with public disapproval over their action the legislators returned to their job with a pledge to investigate the mega projects. But alas as at press time the probe is yet to commence.
Not far away from Delta, legislators in Bayelsa in their own demonstration of loyalty were quick to identify with Governor Timipire Sylva with resolutions supporting his second term ambition even while the Governor was facing the public disapproval of his party over alleged security issues.
All over the country, state legislators are prompt to identify with their Governors irrespective of the conduct of the Governors.
They have subordinated their constitutional duties of oversight of the Governors to the ludicrous. It is a shame.