Friday, July 25, 2008

The Chaos in Ogun State

All has not been well with the Ogun State government in recent times. The amity that had existed between the executive arm of government and the legislature appears now to be a thing of the past. The trouble had begun since May when the former speaker of the State’s House of Assembly, Mrs Titi Oseni---an ally of the governor-- was impeached. Ever since then, both arms of government have been dealing with each other with mutual suspicion.
Things, however, got to a head recently when the new Speaker of the House, Mr Tunji Egbetokun raised an alarm that the governor’s Chief of Staff, Chief Abayomi Majekodunmi, had come with armed men to his official residence with the aim of killing him. The Chief of Staff, according to the Speaker, had sought a “one-on-one meeting” with the Speaker in the latter’s residence. They were to find armed men in other cars within the precinct of the Speaker’s residence, and that triggered the alarm. On a search, even the Chief of Staff was found to possess arms in his own car boot, which he said he had license to carry.
But Majekodunmi had explained that the so-called armed men were his aides and not assassins as alleged by the Speaker. He, however, did not say whether the said aides were also licensed to carry arms. Were the aides members of the armed forces or were they personally hired security aides? And why does a Chief of Staff need as many armed men to go around town with him?
Earlier, the lawmakers had also raised alarm over alleged threats to their safety because of the trackers they suddenly found to have been installed in their official cars by the state government. As a result, many of them have not only dumped their official cars, but also fled the state allegedly for fear of being harmed.
For his part, Majekodunmi had also announced that Gov. Gbenga Daniel had been poisoned and had been flown abroad for treatment. And that the lawmakers were harassing the governor simply because the latter had refused to provide the N20 million demanded for each of the state’s lawmakers to stay action on the impeachment plot against the governor.
We find these accusations and counter accusations not only shameful but also embarrassing. Apparently, most of the problems in the state arose from the determination of the legislature to assert its independence. In most states, including Ogun, the lawmakers merely operate as marionettes, and have reduced the House of Assembly to a vassal of the executive arm of government. This is clearly antithetical to the principle of separation of powers. When lawmakers literally become appendages of the governor, not only is the business of lawmaking badly diluted, the check-and-balance functions of the legislature is also sacrificed.
While we agree that the lawmakers require a safe and conducive atmosphere to do their work, we also expect them to show greater maturity in handling their differences with the executive. It beggars belief, for instance, that an assassin will come to a man’s house with his gang and first seek to hold a private meeting with the planned victim, all in broad day light. Playing to the gallery over life and death matters will not help in the least.
We therefore call on the security agencies including the police to thoroughly investigate all allegations of threat to life and safety flying in the air in Ogun State. Lawmakers must be conscious of the fact that they have been elected essentially to make laws for the good governance of the state. They cannot achieve this by running out of the country to neighbouring countries.
On its part, the executive arm of the government must do more than merely denying the allegations. It must be seen to be providing the enabling environment for all arms of government to work without let or hindrance.