NATIONAL ASSEMBLY MOVES AGAINST OBASEKI AGAIN AS GOVERNORS URGE CAUTION

  • Gbajabiamila: We’ll appeal judgement on Edo Assembly
  • Internal wrangling may destroy APC, Masari warns

The battle of supremacy between the National Assembly and Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State over the leadership of the Edo State House of Assembly may not be over as indications emerged yesterday that the parliament has chosen to appeal the judgement which barred it from taking over the state legislature.

A Federal High Court in Port Harcourt had, last month, restrained the National Assembly (NASS) from interfering in the affairs of Edo State House of Assembly.

Justice Kolawole Omotosho, in a ruling, said that the National Assembly could not compel Governor Obaseki to issue another proclamation within the lifespan of an existing proclamation for inauguration of Edo House of Assembly.

The court also ruled that NASS lacked the power to take over the functions of Edo House of Assembly or any other House of Assembly in the country.

The fresh plot to move against Obaseki came to the fore when the governors elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) paid a courtesy visit to the National Assembly.

The group, under the auspices of the Progressive Governors Forum, met with President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila as well as other principal officers of the two chambers of the National Assembly.

In the forum’s delegation were Governors Aminu Masari (Katsina), Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Babagana Zulum (Borno), Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna), Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi) and Obaseki of Edo State.

Also in attendance were the governors of Gombe, Kano, Niger, Ogun and Kwara states.

In an opening remark at the meeting, Speaker Gbajabiamila commended the governors for the roles they played in their emergence as Senate President and Speaker of the 9th National Assembly, stressing that the success recorded at the elections would not have been possible but for the collective efforts of the governors and the party.

Gbajabiamila, who extolled the essence of unity within the ruling party and the government of the day, expressed disappointment at the crisis plaguing the Edo State House of Assembly and the seeming inability of the party to resolve it.

He drew the attention of the governors to the resolve by the leadership of the National Assembly to pursue the matter to a logical conclusion

“Whilst we were able to successfully resolve the issue in Bauchi State, which is an opposition state, unfortunately, we are unable to resolve that of Edo State. I think this is what we have to look at and prioritise. We should consider how to constitutionally address the issue.

“For those of us on this side, the National Assembly, we are surprised that the exclusive constitutional role given to us as prescribed in Section 12 of the constitution, which is written unambiguously clear, was being tested. We are a bit concerned about that. Of course we have three arms of government and on the basis of that, we will be going to court on this matter to resolve not just the judgement but to ensure that any other related issues like that do not come up again,” he said.

However, this pronouncement triggered some negative reactions as Obaseki, who was part of the delegation, was visibly disturbed at the plot by the lawmakers to re-open the battle.

Masari, who led the delegation as Chairman of the Forum’s sub-committee on Legislative Matters, said the purpose of the visit was for them to rub minds with the leadership of the National Assembly on what they consider should be the collective legislative agenda. 

He recalled that during the 8th Assembly, the Progressive Governor’s Forum could not work together with the parliament because of the circumstances surrounding the emergence of the leadership at that time, adding that the governors were determined to court the friendship of the current parliament early enough to ensure they were on the same page.

Masari expressed dismay at the wrangling in the party, including those that cost APC some states during the last general election and warned that the party could destroy itself if key stakeholders failed to close ranks.

“In doing so, we want to use this opportunity to address some fundamental issues that do not only affect APC alone as a political party, but the whole nation. We have itemized some areas which we want to discuss for the purpose of this courtesy call. The details will come when your subcommittee and our subcommittee meet and discuss in detail.

“We can recall that President Muhammadu Buhari recently reminded us of both our responsibilities in providing leadership to ensure that all of us as elected representatives which is a collective body should prioritize building strong relationships between all elected representatives both in the executive and legislative arms of government as well as our party leaders.

“The absence of coordination has produced crisis of trust which, if care is not taken, can destroy our party and the political process. So as leaders, we need to make amends, especially in the area of management of political relations among all the party stakeholders. We need not remind ourselves of what happened between 2015 and 2019.

“We unfortunately allowed avoidable circumstances to give new life to our political opponents, especially parties in opposition to APC, like PDP. We have not managed our personal aspiration to contest elections through the inability of our party leadership to painstakingly ensure broad consultations leading to collective decision that were recorded on most of these avoidable circumstances. We know what happened in the build up to 2019, the crisis we have in so many states within our own political party. I am referring to those crises that could have been avoided; recognizing that conflicting demands from all stakeholders would not be easy to manage,” he said.

Senate President Lawan also paid tributes to the governors for their contributions to the emergence of the leadership of the 9th Assembly and pledged his loyalty to the party.

Lawan also reminded them that the election was a bipartisan effort that saw even members of the opposition supporting the emergence of the current leadership.

The meeting was put on pause and the media was asked to excuse them to pave way for the discussion of key issues behind the visit.

The meeting went on behind closed doors for about an hour after which the governors hurried into a waiting van to ferry them to the Nigeria Economic Summit holding at the Transcorp Hilton, Abuja.

Although there was no briefing at the end of the meeting, New Telegraph gathered that the plot to arm-twist Obaseki over the state assembly marred the discussions at the meeting. 

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