By Sam Onwuemeodo.
THE principles of Separation of Power also talk about checks and balances. They were all parts of the lessons in Government as a subject at the Secondary School level. In our days, one of the popular government books was, “Essentials of Government, For West Africa”, written by Francis Adigwe; Solicitor and Advocate of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
That was the level we began to learn about the three arms of Government. Ditto, the Executive, the Legislature, and the Judiciary. We were told that each of the three arms is expected to be independent, but aside acting as “police” on each other, the appetite for good governance also makes their functions interwoven.
None, is in reality, independent of the other. The Executive funds both the Legislature and the Judiciary. The legislature makes the laws and can also impeach the head of the Executive. The Judiciary interprets the laws enacted by the legislature and can also invalidate the actions of both the Executive and the Legislature.
In our time, I preferred History to Government. You remember KBC Onwubiko’s History one and two talking about Mali and Ghana empires; their Rise and Fall, very interesting. So, whatever happens to any of the arms or whatever that is happening in any of the branches of government, could affect the other arms, either overtly or covertly, positively or negatively.
You can imagine where I am going from here. The Speaker of the Imo State House of Assembly; Rt. Hon. Chiji Collins, and the disturbing allegation of Certificates’ forgery against him are the issues. And what Governor Hope Uzodinma needs to do in the Circumstance. And from all indications, the Speaker appears not to know what to do or how to go about the whole thing.
Those who have been following this worrisome allegation right from the outset, could attest that it has lingered for so long. And the man at the centre of the whole debate is not helping matters. The allegation also survived or outlived the Seven months government of Chief Emeka Ihedioha. The allegation too is not an anonymous one. It is not the whistle blower venture. Those behind it, are not only real, but also men of substance with one of them, Hon. Lawman Duruji being Rt. Hon. Collins’ Colleague in the Assembly before now.
Both on the face value and in content, with those behind the allegation, it cannot be wished away. It carries weight. Now, the Speaker has dragged Hon. Duruji and some Media Houses to Court over the allegation. Hon. Duruji has also gone to Court against the Speaker on the same issue.
These are all Civil and Civilized actions especially in a democratic setting. But something more drastic or more urgent needs to be done for the sake of the State, Imo people, the governor and his government. And indeed, for the sake of the Imo Assembly and the Honourable Members.
The issue has gone beyond whether the allegation is true or false. They can sort themselves out in Court since they are already there over the issue. But the situation now demands a very bold Political action or Political solution. And the ball is in the Court of Governor Hope Uzodinma. He must act to save the State from further embarrassment.
In this matter, a stitch in time cannot save nine again. It has gone beyond that level.
The truth, which must be told, is that, if the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Chiji Collins had ever meant business, he would have taken one decisive action to dwarf his accusers. That action would have done him better than Court action.
What is that action? He would have showcased the Certificates in Contest, not minding whether such action is advisable or not. If an animal runs anyhow, the hunter would shoot it anyhow. Even, the reported Comment of Hon. Chiagozie Nwaneri; the Chairman of the House Committee investigating the allegation did not also help Rt. Hon. Chiji’s Case. The whole thing points to the fact that the Speaker has a very bad Case.
I have always believed that no smoke without fire. Except that “fire” could be anything. The smoke that comes out from the exhaust pipe of a vehicle or generator could not be caused by fire but we understand the missing link.
Again, I do not also believe that the burden of proof is always on the accuser; yes, to a very large extent. But in some cases, like that of the Certificate forgery allegation against the Speaker, the reverse can be the Case. For me, the burden of proof in this Case is on the accused; the Speaker, because he is the one at the receiving end.
I may be wrong but that should have made the long story or the lingering story short. I have also read that the Institutions claimed by the Speaker to have issued him the Certificates in question have not been able to reply all the Correspondences to them to confirm the Speaker’s Certificates. So, something is fishing or something is wrong somewhere; conspiracy cannot be ruled out.
It was also learnt that Ihedioha had used the issue to hold Speaker Chiji to ransom. Or had gone for the Speaker’s jugular. Hence, the man could not find his feet under Ihedioha. Infact, with the issue he was at the mercy of Ihedioha. But Governor Uzodinma should not be advised to follow Ihedioha’s example, even when it also appears that he has already begun to do same.
For instance, the tradition has been that the Assembly would screen Chairmen and members of the Interim Management Committees of the Local Governments. But the Governor Constituted the Committee Chairmen and Members and inaugurated them without the Assembly Screening and Confirming them. And the irony of it all was that, the Speaker attended the inauguration.
To say the least, the man needs liberation. Liberation from psychological trauma. Liberation from emotional torture. Liberation from the fear of the unknown. He needs these liberations urgently. And Governor Uzodinma has the anointing oil for these liberations. Rt. Hon. Chiji was not born speaker.
He didn’t come to the Assembly as speaker or to be speaker. He was not also elected by Isiala Mbano people only to become Speaker. So, his becoming Speaker was an act of God, by providence. Call it divine providence if you so wish. And he should not lose or forfeit all he has as a human being in his needless desire or effort to remain Speaker.
Good name is better than riches. Good name or good reputation or image is equally better than position. This allegation has taken toll on the image of the State, the Assembly, Members of the Assembly, the State government and on the entire people of the State.
It has also taken a toll on him and his family. And this is the time to call a spade, a spade. Governor Uzodinma should play the ball in his Court, and not only playing it, but to score goal. And that goal is asking Rt. Hon. Chiji Collins to resign as Speaker. When he does that, calm would be restored both in the Assembly and in the State, generally. It would also be a kind of “Value Added Tax” (VAT) to the government on ground.
The man can Continue with his Court action against his accusers. But his resignation would detach the State from his personal matter. The fact is that allowing him to remain as Speaker has nothing to Credit to the Political “account” of the State, but would rather Continue to debit it. But his resignation would have a lot to Credit to the Political account of the State and its government.
The Speaker should also consider the State and the Twenty-six other Honourable Members of the House. It is not all about him. He should live above board. Which is to resign even without anybody asking him to do so. Those of them who lived long abroad should at times, act like the people they had lived in their areas. They should not be seen to have only brought “Yeemen” home.
He should look beyond his accusers and see the efficacy of quitting that office in the face of the weighty and lingering accusation of Certificates’ forgery against him, including that of NYSC. In case he does not know, staying put as Speaker with the allegation hanging on his head would only make him toy in the hands of his Colleagues and the governor. And that won’t be good for him.
I have always Contended that lean liberty is better than fat slavery. In the face of all these, the Speaker is a “Prisoner” at the moment. Like I had earlier argued, he needs liberation or freedom and urgently too. And that liberation or freedom comes instantly or spontaneously the moment he resigns either on his own or with pressure or advice from outside.
That is the best option or action in the Circumstance. Anything outside this, will ultimately present the Speaker as having gotten maggot-infested fire woods and by so doing, have invited all the species of lizard including Agama lizard, to both breakfast, lunch and dinner.
And with no light at the end of the tunnel for the Isiala Mbano born legislator, who is a brother to two great men from the State. You know the two men. And in Case you do not know them, I am talking about His Excellency, Ikedi Godson Ohakim, and Distinguished Senator Ifeanyi Araraume. They are all “referees” to the embattled Speaker. He is their brother in whom they are well pleased. This particular claim is mine. All in all, we Shall Continue to Clap for Jesus.
- ScriptCREDIT: Disciples of Democracy