EDO HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY CRISIS
EDO HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY CRISIS
FOR LABOUR PARTY TO BE BUILT AS A FIGHTING WORKING CLASS POLITICAL PARTY
By Chinedu Bosah
In what looked like the usual tussle for leadership at the motor parks, the Action Congress (AC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of the Edo State House of Assembly have engaged in a desperate and dangerous fight to acquire or retain the leadership of the house. Canisters of teargas, battle axe, gavel, and gun were amongst weapons freely used in the battle of leadership.
An attempt by Bright Omokhodion to move a point of order, apparently to kick start the impeachment process, was overruled by the Speaker and resulted in a heated debate that degenerated into a fight. Some legislators sustained injuries and were rushed to the hospital. When the tension had subsided the AC legislators later reconvened with another mace, and a heavy police presence, in a plenary session where the lawmakers purportedly removed the former Speaker and appointed Peter Aliu as the speaker Pro-tempore. Then on Wednesday Feb. 24 2010, the AC legislators elected Bright Omokhodion, who had just decamped from the PDP, as the substantive speaker of the House.
Before Oshiomhole’s assumption of office as governor, the Edo State House of Assembly previously had a majority of PDP 16 legislators to AC 8. Through a series of election tribunal rulings and re-run elections, PDP lost 4 seats to from the PDP and the House split into equal number of 12 but still under the PDP leadership. The defection of Bright Omokhodion, which increased the number of AC members to 13, emboldened the AC to effect change in house leadership. The AC members claimed that 2/3 members (16) of the House as required by Section 92 (2c) of the 1999 Constitution voted to remove the speaker and principal officers of the House. PDP on the other hand claimed that AC only had 13 members and not 16 that were required. The 3 PDP legislators, Israel Aguele, Patrick Aisowieren and Saiki Shegun purported to have been signatories to the removal of the speaker have since denied part of the exercise to change the House leadership.
Since the emergence of the new leadership, the 11 legislators of the PDP have stayed away from the House.
THE ROLE OF THE WORKING MASSES
The masses have been at best onlookers in Edo state who got wind of events only in the media; it is only in an electioneering period that the PDP, AC and other careerist politicians remember the masses and call on them to vote.
Governor Adams Oshiomhole first rose to national prominence on the crest of the anger and struggle of the working people against the pro-rich policies of deregulation, privatization and incessant hike in fuel prices. This popular opposition prompted the 7 massive general strikes against the ruthless Obasanjo regime that Oshiomhole led while he was President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC). Many trade unionists and activists expected Oshiomhole to utilize this huge political capital in the building of the Labour Party as a mass based political party that represents the socio-economic and political interest of the working masses and poor peasants. Unfortunately instead, Governor Adams Oshiomhole has opportunistically used this political capital in favour of one section of the ruling elite (AC) against the other (PDP) in Edo state, while at the same time declaring loyalty to the anti-people PDP controlled federal government.
The Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) has consistently as asked Adams Oshiomhole to cut his relationship with AC and build the Labour Party, his original party, as a fighting mass working class political party not only in Edo but also in Nigeria as a whole. We hold this position because only a working peoples’ political party, democratically controlled by the working masses and armed with socialist policies and programs, that is in the position to meet the basic needs and aspirations of people of Edo state and beyond.
So far, the preoccupation of Governor Adams Oshiomhole is to defeat Chief Tony Anenih and not the dire need to improve the socio-economic conditions of the Edo people. When the going was good between them Anenih appointed 3 commissioners into Oshiomhole’s administration. The 3 commissioners have since resigned their appointment when Oshiomhole-Anenih relationship turned sour.
In what looked like political poaching, Adams has continually wooed members of the PDP into AC and this has been celebrated as a success. From legislators to council chairmen and their councilors, including ordinary members of the PDP, there had been exodus into the AC. It clearly shows that the AC is not in any way different from PDP. Besides, the defection is easy, because virtually all the political parties in this country exit as platform for patronage, pecuniary interest and self-service. Those who refuse to join the AC are under one investigation or another while those who decamped to AC are exempted. While we support the probe of all the council chairmen and past Edo State governments with the aim of recovering looted public funds that should have been invested on basic public infrastructure, what we have witnessed is selective and witch-hunting meant to whip PDP members into line. In fact, those who dominate the Action Congress (AC) are original members who could not find political fulfillment in PDP, but at one time or the other had helped to ruin the socio-economic condition of the people.
WHAT IS TO BE DONE
Governor Oshiomhole has raised genuine fears regarding the House of Assembly populated with anti-people lawmakers in view of the Balarabe Musa experience in the Second Republic, but the only way to deal with such threats is to rely on the masses and not rotten and corrupt politicians.
In reality to break the grip of the self-serving looters of all parties independent structures need to be built across the length and breadth of Edo state, including elected Peoples’ Assembly that can act as a popular counter weight to the Edo State House of Assembly. A Peoples’ Assembly, alongside local structures populated by elected workers, artisans, traders, students, etc., can mobilize the masses to recall lawmakers that are opposed to pro-people policies and programs and see to their replacement by pro-working class candidates in a democratically re-run election.
So, if Governor Adams Oshiomhole means well for the people, it is time to leave AC and begin the building of the Labour Party as a mass based working people oriented political party. The trade union leaders should also end all strategic partnerships and alliances with ruling elite and build the Labour Party in workplaces and communities to challenge these self-serving ruling elite. Such a political party must be built on socialist programs such that the resources of the society are mobilized and democratically managed to provide the basic needs of all and economic development. Anything short of this is to freely give more lifeline to the thieving ruling elite while the people are helpless while the Labour Party is fast gaining the reputation as a political party that accommodates corrupt politicians who lost out in other establishment and anti-poor political parties!