THE absurdist movement of the late 1950s was one in which notable playwrights depicted the ‘existentialism’ philosophy of human existence as lacking in meaning or purpose. Their plots were typically cyclical, with the finishing point looping back to the starting point and logic giving way to irrationality – making silence ultimately the best option. This was the undercurrent of the meaningless banter and vacuous waiting game by Vladimir and Estragon for an illusory figure named Godot in Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot.
Edo State House of Assembly is Nigeria’s contemporary theatre of the absurd; absurdity characterises its operations behind a fragile façade of normalcy. The legislative house early this week sacked Francis Okiye (Esan Northeast) as Speaker and replaced him with Marcus Onobun (Esan West).
Absurdity lay in the fact that Okiye presided over 10 lawmakers who postured as the assembly since its controversial proclamation on June 17, 2019 by Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki. It was this proclamation that hardened battle-lines between Obaseki and former National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Adams Oshiomhole, resulting in Obaseki’s defection to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to run for a second term. Fourteen members-elect of the assembly who declined participation in that purported proclamation had their seats declared vacant by Okiye, allegedly for having failed the statutory requirement that they join up not later that 180 days after the House was inaugurated. There are pending litigations over the controversy, but the 24-member house has carried on with 10 members under the leadership of Okiye who was widely seen as legislative man-Friday to Governor Obaseki. The purported house of assembly holds its regular sessions at the state Government House rather than at the statutory legislative complex.
The latest absurdity is that barely three weeks after Obaseki won his re-election as Governor, and at a legislative session over which he presided last Monday, Okiye was kicked out by all nine other members of the assembly. His removal followed a petition in which he was accused of financial impropriety, upon which Majority Leader Henry Okhuarobo (Ikpoba Okha) moved an impeachment motion, seconded by Yekini Idiaye (Akoko-Edo 1) and adopted by unanimous voice vote. Addressing journalists, Okhuarobo said members had “compelling reasons” to do what they did and only waited till now for political considerations.
There are suspicions Okiye’s impeachment index his estrangement with Obaseki, as it seems unlikely the measure would’ve carried through without Mr. Governor’s nod – not minding reports that Deputy Governor Philip Shaibu led truce mediation efforts that the lawmakers rebuffed. If that was the case, then Edo’s current legislature proves again it is a thoroughly spineless arm of government, in a state where it has functioned as a protectorate of the executive arm. Sad.
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