Nigeria Matters

The Executive/Legislative Tango in Abeokuta

Few weeks back reports back home in Nigeria had it that the Delta State Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan’s convoy ran into armed robbers on their way to the Warri Stadium where a ceremonial send-off football match was billed to take place in honour of retired international soccer star Austin ‘Jay Jay’ Okocha. A number of people were killed (including the driver to Uduaghan’s ADC who himself was hit in the leg) and others wounded in the gun duel that ensued between the gunmen and Uduaghan’s security aides.

And earlier this week another grim report had it that Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State was involved in an assassination attempt on his life. Akpabio, from many sources, is a good principled state chief executive so one wonders who must have been after his young life? Whereas, the Niger Delta region (especially Rivers and Bayelsa States) often erupts in resource control agitation and embedded violence and other sundry crimes, Uyo and Calabar have so far maintained their calm attracting investors and consolidating their infrastructural development.

Before then we were treated some time ago to the executive/legislative drama in Yola Adamawa State involving Murtala Nyako, the PDP Governor and the House of Assembly members led by the Speaker James Barka. According to reports Governor Nyako, claimed the assemblymen, committed impeachable offenses ranging from inflation of contracts to awarding of fictitious ones; from reckless spending of state financial resources in his care to outright nepotism of the worst kind. Indeed the charge sheet was brimming with highly impeachable offenses which under normal circumstances should have seen the back of Nyako as Governor.

But before we could digest the import of Nyako’s numerous ‘crimes’ against democracy in his state the PDP waded in with both Chairman Ogbulafor and President Yar’Adua intervening in the face-off. A peace deal was reached which saved Nyako the embarrassment of becoming political history. Against the ‘rule of law’ (or is it ‘ruse of law’?) principle of the Yar’Adua administration Nyako survived what constituted, had normal procedure been followed strictly, a clear case of abuse of office and flagrant disregard of the constitutional principle of separation of powers between the executive and legislative arms of government.

And just recently the brewing executive/legislative tango in Abeokuta Ogun State took another turn for the worse as the Speaker of the House of Assembly Tunji Egbetokun informed the nation last Saturday that the Chief of Staff to Governor Gbenga Daniel Dr Yomi Majekodunmi had tried to kill him in his house! Though the Governor’s Chief of Staff has since denied it providing his own eloquent account and side of the story the Speaker insists he was a victim of an assassination attempt.

The impeachment of the former speaker, Hon. Titi Oseni (Mrs), and the subsequent emergence of the present speaker has somewhat balanced up the power equation in Ogun State providing for a non-stooge Speaker and an Assembly all out to assert its relevance and importance. Twenty-four of the 26-member House dominated by the ruling PDP are said to be up in arms against the unassuming governor. The Daniel camp out of fear are accusing the legislators of plotting to send Daniel away from the government house by way of impeachment.

The governor has squandered N30 billion in the last two years according to the lawmakers. And the Speaker declared that for many years now only two or three people have been running the state in a mafian manner unaccountable to no one. He made it clear that they would never be intimidated arguing that they are only out to do their jobs constitutionally well cut out for them.

Impeaching Governor Daniel, what led to the brouhaha, cannot happen just like that. Daniel is not an Alams or a Dariye. Gbenga Daniel is one of the Yoruba governors whose stewardship is believed widely to be above board before now. During the burial ceremony of the governor’s mother who died earlier this year Gen. Ibrahim Babangida personally left his ‘modern opulent prison’ in Minna Hilltop Mansion and visited Abeokuta to commiserate with Daniel. IBB in his characteristic Maradonic inclination eulogised Daniel and declared, with the certainty of a deity, that Daniel would play a greater role in the Nigerian politics in future.

In a twist to the tale of the failed assassination attempt on the Speaker the Chief of Staff (CoS) Dr Majekodunmi had raised four important issues while defending both himself and his boss which must be analysed here. First, he accused the lawmakers of demanding 20 million naira each from the governor which he dutifully refused to accede to. So for failing to dance to the ‘bribe’ tune of the legislators Gov. Daniel is being punished? Should we believe that easily? Or believe that the guns the CoS and his PDP thugs invaded the speaker’s residence with are licensed arms belonging to him?

Secondly the CoS claimed that the Ogun state lawmakers are playing the script written by some unnamed “Abuja politicians” who are giving them huge amount of monies in dollars to destabilise the Daniel administration. The Abuja connection according to the embattled CoS leaves one to ask if the larger picture has Olusegun Obasanjo in it. As a former President Obasanjo who hails from Ogun State was seen as the Daniel benefactor. So has it now dawned on opponents to kick out Daniel, a PDP imposition, using the legislators? From all indications Gbenga Daniel is being demystified now that ‘Baba’ has come home to Ota.

Thirdly the CoS claimed that his boss was poisoned few months ago and that led to his hospitalisation in America and India; in America for orthodox medication and India for the unorthodox version! The CoS told us all that they kept the food poisoning issue secret to avoid any heating up of the polity. Why was the big issue of poisoning a chief executive of a state kept secret? Beyond the ‘over-heating the polity’ theory of the CoS there is more in the tale than meets the eye! Who poisoned Daniel and why and how?

And lastly Dr Yomi Majekodunmi smarting from his arrest and eventual release disclosed perhaps unsurprisingly that the legislators are wholly fetish! The fetish connection is laughable to say the least. How many Nigerian politicians are godly or good Christians or muslims? Is Gbenga Daniel a born-again Christian? How did Dr Yomi forget that his Ogun State is home to Ijebu Ode, a town reputed for its legendary occultism and ‘juju’? Even if the legislators are fetish as claimed by the CoS who cares? Or he wished they were free from amulets and charms for them to be easy targets for elimination?

The legislators in this legislative/executive tango in Abeokuta come across as heroes. The Nigerian constitution provides for separation of powers among the three tiers of government. It can therefore not be seen as a ‘crime’ or the extra ordinary when members of a state house of assembly seek for accountability and good governance in conformity with their constitutional briefs. Doing the right thing by all parties involved would do our democracy in general and the Ogun state democracy in particular a lot of good.

Unfortunately none of the parties engaging themselves in this power drama apparently have the utmost interest of the Ogun people at heart but they are all fighting for money and power. The Daniel camp is guiltier in this; afraid of skeletons in their cupboard having been in executive charge for many years the governor’s entourage wants to maintain a dictatorial control. Another ‘Daniel’ in Hon. Tunji Egbetokun (a radical from every indication) has come to put the house in order. I wish him good luck! I salute his courage!!

It is thus safe in my reckoning to conclude that like many former Nigerian state governors and the present set Gov. Gbenga Daniel is guilty of some corruption. This Daniel of a governor is very much different from the Daniel we all know to be righteous and saint in the Holy Book.

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