Tony Osauzo and Ighomuaye Lucky, Benin
Edo State House of Assembly members, who are yet to be inaugurated, yesterday, appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari and the Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II, to prevail on Governor Godwin Obaseki to issue Proclamation, to enable the chamber function and avoid constitutional crisis.
One of the lawmakers, Washington Osifo made the appeal on behalf of 19 lawmakers, at a press briefing at the Nigerian Union of Journalists Press Centre, in Benin, the state capital.
“We urge all well-meaning individuals, including Ewuare II, the Oba of Benin, President Buhari, All Progressives Congress leadership and the National Assembly leadership to prevail on governor Obaseki, to immediately issue the proclamation, to enable the House of Assembly function and to avoid serious constitutional crisis,” he said.
Osifo alleged that the governor’s deliberate attempt not to inaugurate the House, when other states of the Federation have inaugurated their assemblies, amounted to usurping the powers of the legislators.
“And whereas, all other states of the federation have inaugurated their houses of assembly, governor Obaseki has deliberately refused to allow the House to function; thus usurping the powers of the legislators,” Osifo said.
He further added that the governor cannot impose his candidates on the House.
“It is also common knowledge that the governor, no matter how powerful, cannot impose individuals either as speaker or deputy speaker on the legislators.
“At best, he can only lobby for his preferred candidates, as was recently witnessed at the National Assembly.
He, however, called on the governor to obey the 1999 Constitution, as amended, to avoid a vacuum.
“Whereas, the governor, by virtue of section 105 (3) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) is constitutionally required to immediately issue a proclamation for the inauguration of the new Assembly to avoid vacuum; whereas, there cannot be democracy without the Legislature, (because it is the legislature that gives credence to democracy),” he said.
Meanwhile, the state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has condemned Obaseki’s refusal to issue a proclamation for the inauguration of the state Assembly, an action the party described as dictatorial.
In a statement by the state Chairman, Dan Orbih, in Benin, yesterday, PDP said the 1999 Constitution is clear on the three arms of government, their roles and responsibilities .
“What is playing out today in Edo state is that the Executive arm, led by governor Obaseki, has clearly and illegally stopped the legislature from performing its constitutional role; by refusing to send the official proclamation letter to the Clerk of the House, for the inauguration of the Seventh Assembly.
“By his unconstitutional act, he has assumed the character of a sole administrator.
“Edo PDP is uncomfortable with this unfortunate development.
“We knew the inherent dangers of the APC magical claim of 24 over 24.
“As a party, we want it on record that this unpleasant development has nothing to do with Edo PDP but a product of greed and inordinate ambition of a non-performing government which is afraid of its shadows.
“As at 2:00pm, today (yesterday), governor Obaseki has not given any official reason for his impeachable action.
“Edo PDP condemns this assault on our democracy and calls on all lovers of democracy to call Obaseki to order.
“Don’t gamble with the destiny of our state because of internal party disagreement and intrigues.
“You will recall that governor Obaseki and his sycophants rejoiced over the 24/24 mathematical contraption or manipulation of the Assembly elections.
“Isn’t it contradictory and ironic that a government and party that claimed this Pyrrhic victory, cannot proclaim its Assembly?
“It is, indeed, sad to observe that Edo state, under the APC, is now last in everything, including proclamation of the state Assembly.
“We urge the governor to do the needful and transmit the proclamation to the clerk; without further delay,” the PDP said.