WHICH WAY, KOGI ASSEMBLY?
By Otori Ozigi
For sometime now, I have restrained myself from commenting on contemporary issues in the polity, in our dear Kogi State. The reason for my ‘sit down look’ posture (apology to late Bola Ige of blessed memory) is not far fetched.
Paradoxically, Kogi State is gradually becoming a place where most people can no longer look at topical issues dispassionately without colouring them with unnecessary ethnic, party, religious and other mundane primordial sentiments, that have held us down as a people over the years. Such is the sad narrative of our time.
As a progressive journalist and social critic of over 30years experience, that is the dilemma I have found myself in this part of the world where issues are no longer treated and digested largely on their merits. Remember, the unnecessary beer parlour critism and media attack that greeted the recent demolition of archaic, outdated and anachronistic Lokoja roundabouts by the Yahaya Bello led administration.
That well conceived action by a progressive and visionary governor, gave birth to a generation of new breed ‘roundabout activists’ and other bread and butter ‘journalists’ that have opened offices in Lokoja, the State capital, in recent time.
Be that as it may, I have decided to break my silence once again at least to satisfy my good conscience by lending my informed voice to the raging issue in the state at the moment, that is threatening the soul of our polity.
I am talking of the lingering leadership crisis that is rocking the state house of assembly in the last couple of months, which clearly predates the coming on board of Alhaji Yahaya Bello as Governor of the state.
I have watched with keen interest and dismay this convulsing monumental show of shame, and open display of nuisance currency in the name of impeachment by 25 over pampered adults, who were elected with the sole responsibility to make laws and carry out other legislative duties on behalf of over 3.5 million Kogites, both at home and in diaspora. It is amazing and unfortunate that these crop of political leaders have become a major purveyors of unmitigated embarrassment and disgrace to their constituents, as they choose to engage themselves in needless leadership crisis, premised on an ill-conceived and poorly executed impeachment process targeted at the serially embattled speaker, Hon. Momoh Jimoh Lawal.
In writing this piece, my concern is to draw the attention of opinion leaders, stakeholders and other patriotic segments of the society on the urgent need to call the warring law makers to order, before they destroy the remnant of the integrity and democratic ethos of the legislature in the state, beyond redemption.
The scenarios surrounding this satanic crisis are very unsettling, to say the least. The way things are going, we all need to act fast by seeking workable and lasting solution to the crisis of confidence in the hallowed chamber of the state assembly before it is too late.
Whether we admit it or not, the festering crisis is a bad omen and a serious threat to nascent democracy in the state. It is worthy of note that this crisis is no longer a laughing matter or a child’s play as the National Assembly and the Judiciary had been dragged into the fray as external arbiters or mediators.
Even though, Kogi State House of Assembly is reputed to have a long history of leadership crisis, under this democratic dispensation, this present crisis is clearly a great disservice to the good people of the state, given that it is coming at a perilous time, when it makes more sense for the three arms of government to work collectively together and forge a robust synergy to tackle the myriad of pressing challenges in the state.
It goes without saying that this crisis is increasingly becoming very worrisome and repugnant, as we watch team Momoh Jimoh Lawal on national television throwing unguarded tantrums and casting aspersions on all manner of innocent personalities over the impeachment saga on a weekly basis, in a bid to draw attention to their self-inflicted plight as they have become ‘refugees’ in IDP Camps in Abuja. What a sad development for a crop of political leaders that were feeding fat on tax payers money!
It is unfortunate, that this vicious crisis is happening at a time when the 2016 budget is still at the committee stage in the state assembly, even as we enter the second quarter of the year. Tell me, if the delay in the passage of the appropriation bill will not negatively impact on the fortunes of the state and the general wellbeing of the citizenry.
The point must be made too, that I am not impressed by the so-called legislative duties been performed by a section of the law makers under the prevailing circumstances. If the truth must be told, what is playing out at the moment is a big sham and a mockery of legislation in a democracy.
Nobody can convince me that our cause is better served, when 10 out of 25 law makers continue to conduct legislative functions on behalf of the rest of us, while some of us keep pretending that all is well in the troubled assembly when the contrary is the case.
For all that Kogi state had suffered from the last rancorous and turbulent gubernatorial election, which had become a matter of litigations at the tribunal, it is satanic and retrogressive for members of the legislature to continue to engage themselves in unnecessary, avoidable and shameful leadership tussle, that is premised largely on selfish, narrow and parochial interests of some mercenaries and commercially – minded politicians in the state house of assembly.
From the facts and issues put in public domain in recent times, there is clearly a wrong pattern of misuse and abuse of impeachment process in the hallowed chambers of the institutions over the years. It is on record, that, the Kogi State house of assembly had witnessed high mortality rate of its leadership more than any other state assembly in the country in recent history. Before the commencement of this present crisis, no fewer than four past speakers had fallen victims of successful impeachments reportedly initiated and executed by the collaborative efforts of both internal and external forces in the state. If you ask me, that is clearly not a good image for that institution.
However, it is my considered opinion that the surest way out of this present quagmire, is for relevant authorities to urgently set up a high-powered reconciliation and crisis management committee to resolve all the contending immediate and remote causes of the present leadership crisis in the house.
One of the likely options on the table, is for the embattled speaker, Hon. Momoh Jimoh Lawal to be given a soft landing by allowing him to resign his position honourably in the best interest of peace and tranquility in the state.
He should be told in clear terms, incase he doesn’t know, that it is in tandem with common sense for him to step aside, given that the Executive Governor of the State, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, the Chief Justice of the state, Justice Nasir Ajanah, the APC State Chairman Alhaji Haddi Ametuo and the PDP State Chairman, Engr. Sam Ohuotu are all from the same Central Senatorial district in the present dispensation.
In the same vein, Hon. Imam Umar should be supported by all and sundry, to continue as the new speaker of the house because he has so far demonstrated beyond doubt, that he is eminently qualified in both capacity and capability to give the house a desired quality leadership under the prevailing circumstances. If there was any member of the house at a time like this, that has not bitten the virus of incompetence and gross misconduct, that man is surely Hon. Imam Umar, a Phd Holder, with proven record of integrity and competence acquired over the years in the public sector before his foray into politics.
Kogi State will only achieve the much needed blessings, peace and prosperity rightly deserved by the long suffering people, when we do what is right in the best interest of the state no matter whose ox is gored. No individual or class interest is bigger than that of the state.
Otori Ozigi, a veteran journalist and social critic, writes from Lokoja.