For constitutionalism in Ekiti State
By Sun News PublishingThursday, June 14, 2007
The immediate past members of the Ekiti State House of Assembly performed an unusual task just before the dissolution of the House on Monday, June 4, 2007. The then outgoing lawmakers hurriedly approved a list of nominees for the post of commissioner and confirmed the appointment of new local council chairmen by newly sworn in Governor, Segun Oni.
The outgoing legislators, who approved the new appointments after asking the nominees to walk into their chambers and bow three times, by their action, usurped what should rightly be the function of the newly elected lawmakers in Ekiti State.
Governor Oni of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), after the questionable last minute approval of the outgoing legislators, proclaimed the dissolution of the House and the inauguration of the new Assembly via a letter to the House.
The governor, by pushing his list of nominees for political appointments through a legislature with an about-to-expire mandate, illegally took advantage of the majority the PDP enjoys in the former House to spite the new House of Assembly which has 13 legislators each from the PDP and the Action Congress (AC).
Governor Oni craftily circumvented Section 192 (2) of the 1999 Constitution which makes it mandatory for the House to approve state governors’ nominees for the post of commissioner by making the outgoing PDP-dominated legislature perform a function that should clearly be that of the new House of Assembly.
The former House of Assembly, also last week, hurriedly amended the Standing Order of the House to make it mandatory for the new Speaker to be appointed by the new House of Assembly to be of the same political party as the State Governor, contrary to Section 92 (1) of the Constitution which says that “There shall be a Speaker and a Deputy Speaker of a House of Assembly who shall be elected by the members of the House from among themselves.”
The attempt to enforce this amendment, which is widely believed to have been influenced by the new governor, led to an uproar and a free-for-all which abruptly terminated the sitting of the House on June 5.
We are surprised at the naivety displayed by Governor Oni in the attempt to stop the rival AC, which has 50 per cent of lawmakers in the current State House of Assembly, from having a say in political appointments in the troubled state.
By his action, the new Governor has chosen to tread a quicksand and is clearly setting himself up for a needless confrontation with the House. It is worrisome that Governor Oni has set about creating problems for his new administration in this troubled state.
By mischievously seeking to keep the AC out of the decision-making process in Ekiti State, which the presentation of his cabinet list to an outgoing legislature represents, Oni is carelessly throwing away the chance for a compromise and smooth governance of the state. He is cooking up a recipe for chaos and instability which will only fan the embers of disunity in this state that has witnessed so much political rancour is and sorely in need of peace, reconciliation and progress.
The unilateral path chosen by Oni in administering Ekiti is already being contested by the AC, which has vowed to challenge the state government in court to prevent the state from sliding to anarchy.
Governor Oni should recognise and accept the reality of the PDP’s limitations and the AC’s strength in the state, for the smooth running of the State.
The new governor should seek alliances with the new House and revisit the matter of appointments to the positions of commissioners and local government chairmen. He should abide by the spirit and letters of the 1999 constitution which require the legislature to approve political appointments. He should work toward a broad-based government and eschew trickery and divisive tendencies which will not augur well for peace and unity in the state.