Since the unfortunate incidence in the Rivers State House of Assembly in which Governor Rotimi Amaechi was believed to have led his security apparatus to cause mayhem in the state legislature, there have been deliberate attempts by the opposition political parties, in collaboration with their cronies and accomplices in the House of Representatives and the Rivers States government to stand truth on its head. But hard as they try, the truth has refused to fade away as it remains an open conscience that troubles the guilt.
This was alluded to by Dr. Abiola Sanni of the Faculty of Law, University of Lagos, when he appeared on Channel Television Programme on Monday, July 15, on the topic: “Rivers State House of Assembly, NASS and the law”.
Dr. Sanni noted that there was a deliberate attempt to shy away from the main cause of the crisis by attempting to link it with the Nigeria Governors Forum election and perceived differences between President Goodluck Jonathan and Governor Rotimi Amaechi.
He pointedly said that the crisis in the Rivers Assembly emanated from the unlawful dissolution of the Obio-Akpor Local Government Council by 27 members of the state legislature loyal to Governor Amaechi over trumped-up allegation of corruption without investigation and the swift move by Governor Amaechi in the appointment of a Caretaker committee.
Significantly, it has to be noted that the Rivers State House of Assembly was before the dissolution of the Obio-Akpor Council, a united legislature of 32 members, but for the objection to the process adopted in the dissolution of the elected Council raised by five members of the House that are now seen as the anti-Amaechi legislators. The five legislators refused to be part of the crowd as they demonstrated democratic values and ethos following their insistence that laid down legislative procedure should be followed.
As it later turned out, the removal of the Council Chairman was not as a result of corruption but alleged loyalty they have for the Minister of State for Education, Nyesom Wike, who was believed to have been instrumental to his emergence as a candidate of the party and subsequent election as Council Chairman.
Rather than follow laid down legislative process, 27 legislators that are pro-Amaechi refused to reversed their position even while agreeing that proper procedures were not followed in the “suspension” of the Council Chairman. While this was going on, the Governor Amaechi-led government in the state denied involvement in the matter, saying that it was purely the call of the legislature.
Since the disagreement over the dissolution of the Council began in the House, the five members opposed to it have been denied their allowances and other benefits that accrued to other 27 legislators that played according to the dictates of Amaechi, a development that further polarised the Assembly.
The question to ask which the opposition particularly the ACN and other supporters of Governor Amaechi have refused to talk about and point at is; does the Constitution empowers the House to unilaterally dissolve an elected Council or is a Local Government Council at the mercy of state legislators? If the answer is in the affirmative, then there is the need to quickly urge the National Assembly through the help of Speaker Aminu Waziri Tambuwal to effect such an amendment to suit Governor Amaechi after which it can later be reviewed again to the present provision.
While these facts stare all in the face, some of the opposition political parties, in particular the ACN was unable to hide its hidden agenda to destabilise the polity in its new found love and support for a governor on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) but who has made himself available for use in carrying out dirty jobs to the detriment of his party and people.
In its hurry to demonstrate its grand design and plan to destabilise the federal government, the ACN proved that it lacked tact and bereft of direction and understanding of the laws by calling on the National Assembly to commence impeachment process on President Goodluck Jonathan over the crisis in the Rivers State House of Assembly, as if it was the Aide-De-Camp of the President and his security Details that were caught on camera brutalising an elected member of the House in the Hallowed Chamber of the Assembly.
Fortunately, a member of the ACN in the House of Representatives, Hon Abike Dabiri-Erewa refused to be part of the actions of the propagandists during the debate by the House to take over the affairs of the Rivers State Assembly with the sole purpose of securing it for Governor Amaechi.
While contributing to the debate on the floor of the House, Dabiri-Erewa said; “The police officer in uniform, who is ADC to the governor should be dealt with. The Majority Leader of the House who used tripod to brutalise another member should be dealt with no matter whose side he belongs.”
But the Tambuwal-led House was deaf and blind to the video clips that were televised and which went viral on the social media. To say the least, the House of Reps disappointed majority of Nigerians over its failure to play its impartial arbiter role as it ought to be but was more concerned with protecting Governor Amaechi against a legislator that was almost killed on the floor of the House by the Majority Leader of the House, Hon Chidi Lyold, believed to be loyal to Amaechi and the security officers attached to the Rivers governor. Would it have been out of place for the House to have first ordered an investigation into the crisis before resolving to take over an Assembly that sat after the fracas? Or where did the deputy governor of the state present the Supplementary Appropriation bill?
From the action of the House of Reps under the leadership of Speaker Aminu Waziri Tambuwal and the ACN, it is clear that a carefully scripted play by the opposition is being acted. Part of the script was the call on the National Assembly to commence impeachment moves against President Jonathan believing its lackey in the House of Representatives would be able to mobilise but unfortunately, he was conscious of the movement of the tide and was not willing to take a risky plunge.
One would have thought that having formed the All Progressive Congress (APC), the ACN and its few pocket of supporters in the Rivers saga would have been patient enough to allow election and Nigerians decide who would lead the country in 2015 and not by attempting to use crude and unconventional methods to achieve what is becoming clear is extremely difficult to achieve.
It is on this note that one is bold to say that the deliberate attempt by the opposition and the House of Representatives to engage in propaganda warfare with a view to turn the attention of Nigerians from the real issues can be seen and appreciated from the understanding that; “The reason why people do what they do is more important than what they do”.
Taking a cue from here, it is clear that one of the core reasons why the ACN and a handful of others are involved in standing the truth of the situation in Rivers State on its head, is centred on 2015 and are therefore determined to link every event to President Goodluck Jonathan with the sole purpose of distracting him from his avowed Transformation Agenda.
This can be viewed against the backdrop of the fact that brawls are common features in parliaments across the world and therefore baffling and difficult to understand how the fracas in the Rivers House of Assembly translated into an impeachable offence on the part of the President Jonathan.
At the risk of sounding immodest and not in any way supporting legislative brawls, examples abound all over the world with Nigeria having its own fair share. These include the fracas in the Ogun state House of Assembly early this year, and even the Georgia lawmakers brawl in the United States, during a TV-Show in February 2013, that of Jordanian parliament in March 2013, the Taiwanese parliament in June 2013, Venezuela parliament in May 2013, Turkey Parliament in March 2013, Ukraine parliament in March 2013, to mention but a few.
Funny enough, the same ACN did not call for the resignation or impeachment of Governor Ibikunle Amosu of Ogun state when the State Assembly members fought and even broke its symbol of authority, the Maze, nor called for the impeachment of Governor Amaechi, who was believed to have led his security officials into the legislative chamber to beat up legislators?
It is time to stop the deceit and propaganda to address the causes of the Rivers State House of Assembly crisis and not mere tackling the symptoms. Nigerians surely deserve to know the truth and should be told the truth.
Mr. Buoro, a Public Affairs analyst based in Abuja can be reached on email address: firstname.lastname@example.org