By Monday Nosakhare
Following their elections in March, 2019, the burden of expectations from their constituents was high principally because of the impressive work of Governor Godwin Obaseki who has been dubbed ‘Wake and See Governor’ by the people over his performance.
However, when the expectation of their constituents were about becoming a reality, the lawmakers, 15 out of the 24 members who are first timers threw caution to the wind by making wild demand on the governor before yielding to his choice of principal leaders of the Assembly.
The governor who, however, remained non-committal to 19 of the Edo State House of Assembly (EDHA) members-elect kept his joker up his sleeve.
The 19 of the member-elect who briefed the media on Monday June17, over the governor’s non proclamation of the House, however met their shocker when the governor released his joker.
The Edo House of Assemly members-elect who had positioned themselves to harvest their demand from Obaseki, were shocked following the inauguration of the Edo 7th Assembly and subsequent election of Hon. Frank Okiye and Hon. Yekini Idaiye as Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the Assembly where they were conspicuously absent from the inaugural sitting the same day they held press conference.
The new members-elect, before making their demands, failed to realise that there were certain process of documentation they had to go through before being inaugurated.
For one, before submitting themselves to the Clerk of the House with the issuance of INEC certificate of returns, it is expected that they must have filled the Code of Conduct form. This many of them failed to realised and started making demands on the governor.
Mr Tom Uloko, a social critic and human rights activist, while commending the governor and the inaugurated lawmakers, noted that the 15 others that failed to show up for the inauguration, were never prepared for the business of representing their constituents.
According to him, “whether they show up or not, they failed to realise that only 1/3 members-elect was needed to form quorum for the inauguration. In any case, how many of them were even prepared for the inauguration? Many of them are yet to do the necessary documentation in order to present themselves to the Clerk of the House who is the only person who knows when the House is to be inaugurated.
“The constitution says the governor shall send the letter of proclamation to the Clerk of the House who shall read it to members who present themselves. So, he (Clerk) has dealt with only those that had presented themselves.”
Another social commentator, Mr Odon Omokhudu in his message titled “Operation Puff Adder” to the inaugurated members said, a member-elect is not the same as an honourable member of any legislative arm of government “the former has not been sworn in while the latter has been sworn in and legally equipped to carry out legislative duties.”
Omokhudu said the Nigerian constitution was silent on how many members are required for inauguration.
“Most people mistake a quorum for a functional House to be applicable to a legally non existing House. It is not compulsory that every member elect must be present for inauguration.
“The inauguration of the House cannot be put off for example, if majority of the members elect perpetually refuse to make themselves available for inauguration for whatever reasons. If the contrary happens, the business of legislation will be held hostage. God forbids.
“The sole business of the House on the day of inauguration is strictly for the election of principal officers that will pilot the affairs of the House and the swearing in of members-elect as legal members of the legislature.
“It is after the swearing in and the constitution of the House that you can now talk of a quorum. As it stands now, the quorum of the Edo State House of Assembly will be based on nine (9) that have been sworn in and not 24. What this means is that the quorum required for legislative duties as at today is three (3) and not eight (8).
“Those who were not present for inauguration and swearing in are not yet members of the Edo State House of Assembly. They are still members elect. If they doubt me, I challenge them to go to court for interpretation.
My take in all of these is that the Pro Obaseki legislators made use of their brains and lunched an operation Puff Adder on what was clearly a disadvantaged situation for them.
“To me, I score those legislators high because law makers who make laws are supposed to make use of their brains and not their fists. They have boldly confronted and defeated an emerging godfather.
As it stands now, I can bet that the others will be shut out of the Assembly Complex for a very long time. The tide has turned and mark my words they will be sworn in one after the other after they may have begged to be sworn in. This fight is going to be long and we are just in round one of twelve rounds of what promises to be a very long fight.
– Nosakhare, a public affairs commentator, writes from Benin