Sam Omatseye: Brigands in the Rivers temple of law
by Sam Omatseye
What did the five errant lawmakers in Rivers State want Tuesday morning? Not to enforce the rule of law, or to dignify the ethos of democracy. They wanted to enshrine brigandage in the temple of law.
So, they had painted a scenario of morbid potential before Tuesday morning. First, they wanted to lop off the head of the state House of Assembly, that is the speaker. They did not have the number. They amounted to five, and the mainstream had 27 men. Following the law portended suicide. So they took the law in their own hands, and they made a dawn arrival in the chambers and decided to effect the unlawful.
According to the scenario, they would cut off the leader, who was the speaker. That completed, they would proceed to the main agenda: bully the governor out of his position with a hurried impeachment proceeding. It would not have mattered what the law demanded before an impeachment proceeding. Once they enacted a fait accompli, and Governor Rotimi Amaechi ousted from the throne, Abuja would move in with the armed forces and the spartan temerity of power and the new imposed speaker would take over as governor.
Where would that have left Governor Amaechi? He would resort to the court, battling from outside, from the position of weakness. The court would fall under the spell of dalliance, the court sessions postponed indefinitely just like the battle over the leadership of the PDP in Rivers State today.
The intervention of Governor Amaechi’s forces routed the renegades in what looked like a civilian equivalent of a military counterattack. The renegades lost out ignominiously as the 27-man House not only convoked a meeting but passed into a law the budget proposals of the governor.
Since the state crisis unfurls as a President Jonathan versus Governor Amaechi war, the Presidency suffered a severe and unmitigated disaster, just like Hitler’s misadventure in the Second World War in the operation Barbarossa in Russia. Not only the president, but also the long line of “democratic coup plotters” and in the lead was Nyesom Wike.
We have seen this before. During the Obasanjo era, we witnessed the impeachment of Governor Joshua Dariye by a comic set of six turncoats who represented a fraction of the quorum. That reckless move enjoyed official anointing, and Dariye fought a fruitless battle of restoration till the end. Also, with irony, the other one occurred in Bayelsa State, and the travesty was not just numbers but geography. The Governor, Dieprye Alamieyesiegha, lost his reign to impeachment – and President Jonathan was deputy governor – not in the environ of Bayelsa State but in far-flung Lagos. President Goodluck Jonathan benefited from the travesty and that began his storied rise to a presidency of bumbling. Also for irony, President Jonathan has ensconced him in his inner circle. Before all these, Governor Ngige fell out of power when President Obasanjo cradled the nation’s top office and we all watched as the governor was spirited out of sight in a gangster-like kidnap and impeached.
Yesterday lifts the Jonathan era to the ignoble height of democratic torpedoes of the Obasanjo era. The difference: the Obsanjo men succeeded in quite a few: Plateau, Ekiti, Anambra and Bayelsa states. President Jonathan won in Bayelsa by rallying all the armed forces to oust a governor in a fear of the lofty rules of democracy. He wants to replicate in Rivers State the pill he administered in the primitive ouster of former Governor Timipre Sylva. Now again, they failed. They have done many things in infamy. They have devised methods like sending a militant to organise a rally, stopped his plane from flying, implanted a toady as commissioner of police, barred traditional rulers from visiting the governor, barred him from saying hello to the President, tried to oust him as chairman of the Governors’ Forum, and so on. The question is, what is next?
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