The rule of law is the utmost indispensable tenet of democracy that derives its legitimacy from constitutionalism.
It emphasises the application of government power, preferably in conformity with the law than the whimsical wills of officials.
Considering the above characterisation, therefore, deducing the chief cause of Abians’ querulousness and disillusionment with the past administration is a no-brainer.
Simply put, the blight on the Abia state PDP-led government was its exploitation of the rule of law. This catalysed voters’ revolt against it and consequently birthed the breath of fresh air slogan that resonated after the electoral umpire announced Dr Alex Otti of the Labour Party as the winner.
Still riding the crest of a wave of popularity, the new government touted as the paradigm of good governance has kept the obnoxious status quo and brazenly espoused whataboutism as a defence.
One of such arbitrariness and high-handedness was putting the kibosh on the rules of the Abia State House of Assembly to install a first-timer as the Speaker of the Eighth Assembly against the edicts of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Order II, No 4 of the House Rules states:
“4. Members-elect, having assembled, the Clerk to the State Assembly shall read the Proclamation for the holding of the first session of the Business of the House conducted according to the Standing Orders of the House in existence in the previous Assembly.”
This house rule derives its legitimacy from Section 311 (Standing Order) of the 1999 Constitution – 1, 2, 3 and 4. It applies mutatis mutandis to the national and state assemblies.
However, to annex the House of Assembly and make the lawmakers obsequious, Governor Alex Otti predisposed the subservient house members to enthrone his Labour Party myrmidons/newbies as Speaker and Deputy correspondingly despite LP not having the majority.
Irrespective of the apologias, it is not a leave-taking from the old order and undoubtedly not the New Abia they pledged. His action is at variance with democratic principles.
The dangers associated with a pliant house of assembly are complacency, obduracy and toffee-nosed on the side of the executive arm.
These have been the albatrosses to progression in Abia state since the inception of democracy and the reasons the state relapses after convalescence.
I have read sycophants hail this crass abuse of the rule of law by Governor Otti as wittiness. No! It is not. Instead, it is a smack on the concept of noblesse oblige on which premise he got elected. It was a banana peel Otti should have avoided, but unfortunately, he savoured it as a victory against his predecessor.
It is pertinent also that I condemn the concession of the PDP lawmakers to the charade that undermined the standing order. It is a sign of a weak opposition. Without galvanising the masses, Abia’s journey to the anticipated Shangri-La remains precipitous.
Recently, the number of Abia journalists defending Otti and utilising every opportunity to pour expletives at Okezie Ikpeazu for woeful performance is surging.
Thank God they have finally found their mojo. If they had shown this positive energy from inception, Ikpeazu would have exceeded expectations.
Abia-based journalists were always praising Ikpeazu. They never published a single negative news story against his government until the chips were down in February 2023. I earnestly pray and hope they will not display fair-weather friendship with Otti if the romance ceases to be sizzling.
Finally, it is not in the interest of Abia and good governance for the governed to make excuses for the government or mollycoddle public officeholders when they err. Holding them accountable will expedite development.
Stay in the know on Abia politics. Grab a copy of Don Norman Obinna’s ‘Raped & Enslaved: Era of Kleptocracy’.