From Wole Balogun, Ado-Ekiti
Speaker of Ekiti State House of Assembly, Kola Oluwawole has blamed the current economic woes and other unwholesome policies on the National Assembly. He said that had members of the National Assembly performed their constitutional duty well, things wouldn’t have been this worse. He speaks on various issues including the intolerance of the APC for the opposition parties.
Governor Fayose recently wrote to the Nigeria Judicial Commission, (NJC), alleging that members of the opposition in the state were planning to use the judiciary to push for his impeachment by the National Assembly, what do you say about the development?
It is very obvious that the APC led government in power is very intolerant of the opposition. You will recall that the government of Ayo Fayose faced a great storm when it was to be sworn in as governor for the second term after an election that brought him in which was a landslide victory. We knew the role of the G 19, 19 members of the APC and all that. But we thank God, all that is history now. We have now been vindicated and other issues which the opposition have been using as blackmail were also resolved at the Supreme court.
After that, there were attacks on the Ekiti State House of Assembly where some of our members were whisked away to Abuja by the DSS. One of us was even taken away for 18 days without trial, without being charged for anything and all that.
So, having all these at the background, the opposition has seen that 2018 is approaching and they want to hatch another unwholesome plan to go through the back door and with trumped up charges and using a faceless group that claimed to be fighting for the masses, try to urge the National Assembly to commence an impeachment process against Governor Fayose. To me, that is an aberration, in the first instance, the constitution of Nigeria is very clear. Even when a governor has been found to have committed an impeachable offense, it is the state House of Assembly that would initiate an impeachment process against him. So, it is very curious for that kind of a group to be urging the National Assembly to start an impeachment process against the governor.
That was why the governor had to write to the National Judicial Council, to address the issue because we have witnessed a lot of injustices and illegalities, controversial judgments, under the watch of the present Federal Government such that one begins to wonder why the integrity of the judiciary under this government is at stake. But we know that there are still judges with integrity. So, that was why Fayose, realizing the usual dubious style of the opposition in the state, had to cry out to the NJC and raised the alarm to the international community that they are planning something unwholesome which is to illegally commence an impeachment process against him which is against the constitution of the country.
So, what do you expect from the NJC from that development?
We expect that the NJC would take appropriate actions. And they are taking some steps, part of which is the transferring of the judges. But that is not enough. For instance, transferring justice Abang to Delta State has not solved the problem. It is obvious that justice Abang has been an embarrassment to the legal profession in the country and so, he should be shown the way out. It is even unfortunate that they have to wait till the matter gets to this level before taking such action and I expect that more stringent action should be taken against him, in other to prevent a lot of illegalities in this country.
You and your team seem to be working smoothly with the governor in running the state, how would you assess the legislature at the national level?
At the national level, people view the government as one, every finger points to the presidency which is the executive. But very unfortunately, this administration has plunged this nation into a precarious economic situation. The damage done to our economy by this administration is monumental. So, it is difficult to assess the role of our legislature under this administration positively. The National Assembly is supposed to be a check on the executive such that if there are bad policies coming from the government, the National Assembly has to call them to order. Our problem started right from the inauguration of the president.
We would recall how many months it took them to constitute their cabinet. That showed to us that the government lacks direction. There was no organized way of running a government. It is a clear picture of what a renowned political scientist and theorist called ‘disjointed incrementalism’. The political scientist dealt with what we call decision making theory in governance. President Mohammadu Buhari’s administration, right from the day of his inauguration till now, has not had any organized way of running a government. What we have been having is what the great political scientist called ‘disjointed incrementalism.’ If this does not work, we try that one and lop up everything leading to a highly disorganized system of governance and that is why it has been very difficult to actually locate the positive impact of the National Assembly at the national level. Of course, we all witnessed what played out at the passage of the 2016 budget, there was supposed to be a kind of organized agenda of how to run the government. They must have properly defined what they would do in each of the sectors. The government is supposed to have just taken up a certain sector, whether it is power or road or economy and faces that squarely. And when you are running a government on propaganda, it is unfortunate.
The legislature is supposed to be a check on the executive. That role at the national level has been decimated. It is unfortunate, because if the legislature at the centre had performed their duty creditably well, we wouldn’t have been in this mess. The executive has been running this government as a junta, a dictatorial executive. And the legislature were rendered helpless, they couldn’t call the executive to order. Thank God that it has come to a stage that some of the members of the National Assembly are crying out and condemning the bad policies of the executive, saying this is intolerable. And that was why they had to reject the FG’s ban on importation of vehicles through land. Of course, that ban has only added more sorrow to the already impoverished people of the country. By implication, what the National Assembly has done by rejecting the ban on vehicle importation through land is a pass of a vote of no confidence on Buhari government and that is unfortunate.
At the state level in Ekiti here, there has been a very cordial relationship between the executive and the legislature. The reason being that right from the initial stage of budget preparation by the executive, we are carried along through many seminars and projects and we contribute in identifying what the government would do for the state. We help in joining hands to identify the prioritized areas. And that is why whenever the appropriation bill comes to the state House of assembly; it has always got accelerated passage because we were carried along in its preparation. And even in the process of execution of these projects and implementing the budget, we monitor, that is real governance. This is why with the little resources coming to the state, we are performing. With every due respect, I advise the Federal Government to borrow a leaf from the way we run Ekiti State.
The FG has been praised in some quarters for scoring high on fight against corruption and terrorism, what is your take?
What we are having in Nigeria is a kind of propaganda machinery in full scale display. You said you are fighting corruption but you only focus on the opposition. For instance, in Ekiti State, the former governor of the state, now Minister of Mineral resources Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, had plunged the state into terrible indebtedness which became a monumental economic disaster for the state.
As I am speaking with you, there are some loans that Fayemi took that until 2036, we would not get out of its repayment. There was the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) fund which was fraudulently diverted by Fayemi government. In fact, it was the national secretary of SUBEB in Abuja who discovered the fraud. The Ekiti State government wrote a formal petition to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate Fayemi on this but up till now, nothing has been done on that. The state assembly also invited former Governor Fayemi to come and explain the use of that fund to the House, two times now, but he has not shown up. So, tell me, what kind of anti-graft war is the Federal Government fighting? It is one-sided.
How prepared is your party ahead of 2018?
PDP is the largest party in Africa. So, naturally you will expect some challenges. Everyone wants to come to the umbrella of such a party. But I can assure you that everything is being done to ensure that there is unity among us. So, as for 2018, we will cross the bridge when we get there. Just as the governor has spoken, God will direct us on the choice of his successor.
Election is still far. What we are doing now is to deliver good governance for our people. The party is doing everything possible at the grassroots to see to the continued unity of the party.