More often than not, critics all over the world tend to blame the inability of an administration to live up to its expectations solely on the executive arm of government. This may be because among the three branches of government namely; the Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary, the first is the statutory head and the one that goes out during campaigns to tell the electorates what they would do. Chief executive officers of the three tiers of government are constantly attacked and slammed in almost every failed attempt or failure to attempt. People seldomly talk about the place of other arms of government in such betrayal of public trust.
But, to be fair, the executive does not reserve the exclusive right to determine what happen in government or have absolute independence to make certain policies work. It may be in charge of running the day to day activities of government but for it to succeed and progress to the point of satisfying public demand, the other two arms of government must effectively play their roles. It must be a collective responsibility of the three.
No doubt, there's separation of power as provided by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), but the success of any administration rest on the proactiveness of all the three. This means that, no single arm of government survives or succeed in isolation; they always fall back to each other to stand.
While corporation and understanding is eminent, it should not be done in such a way that the duties of one arm is undermined. No arm should become a surrogate to another; there should be some level of independence in other to enable each of the arms carry out their functions effectively. Success in government can only be achieved through a concerted efforts of the three arms therefore they should all share in the success and failure of any administration.
For the purpose of understanding, let me succinctly remind us the functions of the three arms of government.
The Legislature which to me is the most critical arm of government has a major responsibility to make law. It is also duty bound to carry out oversight function on the executive and the judiciary. By this, it means that the legislative arm has a duty to supervise and scrutinize the activities of the executive to influence the administrative policies.
It (legislature) exist as a commissary of the public that is why it can prefer the charge of impeachment on their executives. It represent the public trust. It has the powers to control how and when government finances are spent. This is why the head of the executive seeks approval of the appropriation bill at the beginning of every fiscal year from the legislative arm. The legislature gives or deny approvals for loans.
The Executive arm which is the head of every administration has a major responsibility of enforcing the laws made by the legislature. It is in charge of the day to day running of government as well as does the formulation and implementation of government policies, etc.
And lastly, the judiciary is obligated to interpret and administer justice. It is the custodian of the constitution of every society and the conscience of the people. It also in most cases play advisory role to other arms.
In Cross River, the misrule of Governor Ben Ayade is very visible to the blinds and very audible to the deaf. But behind this misadministration, there is the Speaker of the 8th Cross River state House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. John Gaul Lebo who has failed to lead the legislature to perform her function as the representation of the people. He is a major component (if the only) of Governor Ayade's misrule.
Let me explain. As stated earlier, the two major functions of the legislative arm of government is to make laws and to exercise some level of control, guide and scrutiny on the activities of the executive. This watchdog function is called the oversight function. Although the assembly has not done badly in making laws as it has passed not fewer than ten bills since its inauguration, the former is a critical expect of legislative business that has gone extinct under John-Gaul's watch. The house has acted since inception as if its only responsibility was to make laws. And even the laws (which I will write about another day) have little or no direct bearing on the common man who should be the priority of every government. Don't expect me to give you some of these laws as I will discuss them exhaustively in a separate piece.
Governor Ayade has mercilessly come under heavy attack and criticism over some of his actions and inaction since he took over the mantle of leadership of the state. The opposition All Progressive Congress, APC and some critics have demanded his impeachment or resignation over some obvious gross misconduct. But such calls are very offensive to the speaker who has indirectly made himself a spokesman for the governor each time he comes under attack.
We have erroneously blamed Ayade solely for the poor state of governance in the state. May be this is because he is the head of the administration but a logical and critical analysis of what is transpiring in the state today will leave one wondering if we have an assembly that has the courage to exercise it statutory right of checkmating the excesses of the executive. The answer of such ponder is on the negative obviously.
In his inaugural media interaction, the speaker pledged to uphold the integrity of the legislature. He vowed never to leave the assembly under the control of the executive. But he said this feat can only be achieved without the legislature appearing to be fighting the executive. At that point, I pondered over many things because a typical Nigerian in place of authority will want to do things unchallenged; and knowing the kind of governor we have, I said to myself that this man may just have unofficially handed over himself to the governor with the attachment of such clause to his pledge.
You can't effectively carry out an oversight function without appearing to challenge the powers of the executive to carry out some programs. Fight to me is not only when blows are exchanged but disagreement with somebody over an issue could also be referred to as a fight. Nobody was expecting the Speaker to carry matched, gun and irons to chase the governor in performing his oversight function. Perhaps, the speaker may have understood it differently.
The statement invariably set the premise for what we have today as the most gullible, unserious and irresponsible assembly in Nigeria. An assembly that lacks the courage to call the governor to question when he errs. An assembly that has become a rubber stamp to the governor. And assembly that house a leadership that is an informant to the power co-governor. An assembly that has passed all the bills from the governor, including working on a bill to promote street hawking in Calabar. An assembly that before the governor says Jack Robinson, his demands will be approved without due consideration of the consequences.
Lebo ensured that the local government act is amended to create room for the governor's wish to set up caretaker committee without minding the consequences of such actions to the system. From when the local government would be devolved, the federal government will no longer grant the state local government allocation. Our laws provide that allocations are only granted to democratically elected government. So the responsibility to pay local government workers salaries and other overheads will now be tied down to the meager federal allocation for the state government. This may just be one of the worst mistakes of any legislative regime in the history of the state.
Today, Lebo assembly is a gathering of unserious people and naysayers who even lack the courage to demand their statutory benefits from the governor. All members of Ayade's family in government are driving official cars while honourable members almost two years after inauguration are still using their personal vehicles for official purposes.
Why would any man blame only Ayade for reducing governance to comic show when he knows everything he does is accurate before Speaker John-Gaul? Why would anybody single out Ayade for crucification for destroying the legacies of the state in just 18 months? Why would anybody blame only Ayade for the bad roads, insecurity, poor water supply, damaged education, agriculture, health and tourism systems when Juhn Gaul has deliberately paid deaf ears to the call for the legislature to perform her oversight function on the executive? He (Speaker) has given Ayade an open cheque to run Cross River state as it pleases.
It is absurd for anybody to think that every spoiled child is responsible for his or her actions and therefore should be blamed for every misdeed. In most circumstances, the child is just as good or as bad as the parents make them. In this case, although Ayade is the head of the administration, the constitution gives the speaker the mandate to play the role of a parent which he has neglected with disdain. So, the governor alone cannot be held responsible for all the atrocities this administration has committed against our belief system.
During one of the governor's world tours that kept him away from the country for almost three months, Cross Riverians raised concern on why he didn't inform the assembly officially and handover power to his deputy to act. In defending the governor's action, the Speaker said that there's no law that mandates the governor to handover to his deputy while in an unofficial leave. I wonder the law that permits the governor to leave the state without leadership for that long!
When Calabar officially bowed to refuse and dirt, a highly placed government official like the Speaker who was supposed to compel relevant agencies to clean up the city came out to ridiculously abused the intelligence of Cross Riverian with his shameless claim that Calabar is now dirty because Ayade was paying workers salaries regularly. How payment of salaries has become a great privilege done to civil servants by government and a reason for government negligence to keep the environment clean is appalling.
The governor has in different fora publicly addressed his think-tank, Frank Ayade as a co-governor and our dear speaker thumped ups. John-Gaul has reduced the office of speaker to the level that if Ayade fart, he will go to the press to quote laws that support such action. He has converted the office of speakership to a Personal Assistant to the governor.
During one of his media parleys, the speaker said that the governor is by law allowed to appoint not more than 64 aides. But today, Ayade has appointed over 1,500 aides to the commendation of our dear Speaker. No doubt, he is one among equals but the leadership must be firm enough to take decisions that will make the erring governor sit up.
In the assembly complex, there's no steady power supply and no water. Legislative aides are not being paid. Lawmakers are not given their allowances while the governor has acquired the latest Tundra for the speaker to ensure his continues support at the detriment of his colleagues is guaranteed. Any lawmaker who dares try to demand his due entitlement will be tagged a betrayer and an enemy to the family.
How can there be a family when a cabal is sitting on the benefit of others in the name of loyalty? How can the lawmakers push all the blame on Ayade when they themselves have sold their consciences and duties to the governor? How can we single out only the governor to blame for our present situation when people who were supposed to be act as our consciences have sold their mandates to fear, loyalty and the very enemy of our common patrimony in the name of showing loyalty to their party ? For me, such is not loyalty but cowardice because the people you represent must come first before your party!
Apart from unleashing terror on our economy by making useless and unnecessary appointments, Ayade has formed boards and agencies that our laws does not recognise yet the legislature which is the representation of the people is feigning ignorance. The spate of insecurity in the state is on the increase and yet we don't have a courageous speaker that can preside over a session that will call the governor to answer some questions over the many allegations linking his aides to the menace.
Ayade has crippled everything in the state and yet John-Gaul is clapping for him. With the level of sycophancy and gullibility displayed by Lebo and his colleagues, the may be no immediate solutions to the problem of leadership under this administration.
Even the Bible says that when you see somebody committing sin and you fail to report to appropriate authorities, you are also as guilty as the person committing the sin. Hence, behind every Ayade misrule, there's a John-Gaul. Until other members rise to their responsibilities by calling the speaker to order, I foresee even a worst state than we are already are in the nearest future.
The legislature must perform her oversight function effectively to return the lost glory of our dear state. Members should see beyond party sentiments to work towards building a new Cross River. They must stop their "Sidon look" attitude because posterity will hold them all responsible.
May God help Cross River!
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