When Lawmakers Go to Equity with Dirty Hands

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Since the inception of the nation’s ongoing democratic rule, on May 29, 1999, the Enugu state House of Assembly had been synonymous with its docile, inactive, and toothless bulldog nature.

Ordinarily, legislators, ought to be persons of sound minds charged with making of human oriented laws that will truly impact on the lives of those they serve. But for many political watchers and analysts in Enugu State, the 24- member Peoples Democratic Party, PDP dominated House since 1999, had been a bundle of disappointment, especially the constituencies they represent. Because of its non pro-activeness, many had adjudged the House, as the worst Assembly in the entire South- East as far as quality representation is concerned. For their selfish and personal interests, the legislators, had over the years, preferred to operate as toothless bulldogs, or rubber stamp to the executive arm so as to guarantee their welfare packages.

Enugu lawmakers, especially under the present dispensation, had turned legislative business into a mockery. It is only in the hallowed chamber of state House of Assembly that legislators make submissions in their mother tongue, (Igbo language) during plenary proceedings, due to their speech impediment in English.

Apart from the era when ex- governor of the state Chimaroke Ogbonnaya Nnamani declared war on his political godfather, and one time governor of old Anambra state, Jim Nwobodo, the state, had never witnessed an active or vibrant legislature. 
In fact, most citizens are not interested in the affairs of the House, or believe in the lawmakers, as they only see them as political merchants. It was the rift between the two political giants, Nnamani/ Nwobodo, which raged for a long time that brought the then two factions of the state Assembly members into public glare and domain for the first time. During the said period, the House became controversial and divided, as both factions engaged in all manner of attacks, using both orthodox and unorthodox means.

Without prejudice, the outgoing Assembly under Barrister Eugene Odoh, seem to be the least performed in the history of the state legislature. For eight years, the Igbo Etiti politician, took over mantle of leadership of the House, the executive arm of government under the headship of another lawyer turned politician, Sullivan Iheanacho Chime, had been engaging in series of administrative recklessness with impunity.

The executive had been using the Odoh, led legislature to perfect some of its selfish and unpopular actions, such as the impeachment of the ex-Deputy governor, Sunday Onyebuchi, who was sacked from office because he operated a poultry farm at his official residence. Because Odoh, and his colleagues were benefiting, and getting all their entitlements from the Chime led executive, they never saw anything wrong in the administration in the past eight years, until recently when the House monthly overhead allocation was delayed due to shortage of cash. 
Before then, Odoh, and his fellow lawmakers, had always presented governor Chime before the public as God sent. 
As typical Nigerian politicians, whose personal interest always remain paramount, the Odoh led House, did not hesitate to declare political war on Chime. For those who may not know, the main bone of contention in the present Legislative/ Executive war, is the delay in the release of the House March and April, 2015 overhead.

Apart from the non-release of the two months allocations, majority of the lawmakers, are also bitter with Chime, for not using government might to deliver them in their respective constituencies at the last general election. For many followers of Enugu politics, what is currently happening between the lawmakers, and the governor, serves the legislators right? Besides, many also believe that the lawmakers are going to equity with dirty hands.

However, the seemingly cold war between the state chief executive, and the lawmakers, had continued to assume different twists since it started about a fortnight ago. Only recently, Wednesday, April 15, 2015, had during their sitting ordered the arrest of the Accountant- General, (A-G), Mr. Basil Okolie, through the issuance of a bench warrant on him, over the non payment of the said controversial overhead.

Prior to the Wednesday’s bench warrant on the AG, the House, had at one of its plenary, suspended one of their members and close ally of Chime Hon. Johnbull Nwagu, representing Udi North State Constituency. The lawmakers, had accused the Accountant General of neglecting to answer their summon. Moving a motion for the arrest of the Accountant General, Hon. SKE Ude-Okoye representing Awgu North, submitted that Mr. Okolie has refused to appear before them “and for this reason they had to exercise their constitutional power to compel him to appear before it”.

When the speaker, Hon. Odoh, put the motion of the bench warrant to vote, all the members present voted in favour of the arrest of the AG. .

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