Bola Tinubu, a national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), has accused Godwin Obaseki, governor of Edo state, of resorting to “strong arm tactics of dictators”.
Reacting to the crisis rocking the Edo house of assembly, Tinubu alleged that Obaseki is working against the interest of Edo people.
He said after denying elected members of the house of assembly from being inaugurated for over a year, he allegedly mobilised thugs to frustrate their inauguration.
He said though the governor has committed an impeachable offence, the lawmakers have not indicated interest in removing him from office.
“The recent actions of the Governor of Edo State represent the gravest possible assault on constitutional democracy and the rule of law and escalation of violence and tension in the state he purports to govern,” he said.
“Not satisfied with making a mockery of our constitution by blocking the timely inauguration of two-thirds of the elected members of the Edo State House of Assembly, Governor Obaseki has now resorted to the strong-arm tactics of dictators.
“First, he sponsors hoodlums to deface, indeed destroy, parts of the House of Assembly Building in Benin, feigning the building is undergoing renovation. Then, he imports sand and gravels to prevent access to the assembly complex. In effect, the man has spent state funds to thwart the very apparatus of the state government he was sworn to uphold. He has squandered public money to defeat the very will of the public. This is tragic beyond words.
“As a pretext for his refusal to allow the Edo House of Assembly to function, Governor Obaseki’s actions are perverse. This is a cowardly act and a move to thwart representative democracy in Edo. No renovation has been planned for the state house building. No appropriation was made in the state’s budget. The only reason any renovation could be deemed necessary is the destruction wrought by his own goons.
“Governor Obaseki’s governance of Edo State recalls the worst excesses of our military past and represents a direct threat to the democratic order. By his refusal to permit duly elected members of the Edo State House of Assembly to perform their constitutional duties, Governor Obaseki betrayed contempt for the people of his state and, unfortunately, his ignorance of Nigeria’s constitutional order. As a Governor he ought to know better than to obstruct the functioning of his own legislature, but perhaps he is in need of a quick lesson.”
The APC national leader said the governor has placed himself above the legislature, “deciding who gets in and who is shut out”.
He said it is clear that Obaseki is punishing the lawmakers for their loyalty to the APC, adding that: “If every governor behaves as he, obstructing the performance of any legislator who does not pledge to him their undying fealty, the entire edifice of democratic governance in Nigeria would grind to a complete halt.”
The crisis rocking the Edo state house of assembly took a new twist on Thursday with the emergence of Victor Edoror as speaker.
Edoror, who was impeached as deputy speaker in 2018, was elected speaker by 17 lawmakers loyal to Adams Oshiomhole, former governor of the state.
The lawmakers orchestrated the removal of Francis Okiye as speaker after meeting at an undisclosed location in Benin, the state capital.
Among the 17 lawmakers were 14 who were not sworn in since they were elected in 2019.
Their seats had been declared vacant amid the power tussle between the members of the assembly loyal to Oshiomhole and those who have the backing of Obaseki.
Obaseki, who is candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the September 19 governorship election, has enjoyed the support of the assembly with his loyalists in charge.
But he started losing support of some of the lawmakers in his camp when Yekini Idiaye, the deputy speaker, and three of his colleagues endorsed Osagie Ize-Iyamu, candidate of the APC in the election.
Although Idiaye was consequently removed as deputy speaker, that step emboldened the pro-Oshiomhole lawmakers who relaunched the move for their inauguration.