“What we have in Akwa Ibom is the general abatement of the tyranny of the few. And these people are tyrants in all material particulars.”
Joe Effiong, Uyo
Mr Eseme Eyiboh, a former spokesman of the House of Representatives and currently the Chairman of the Cross River Basin Development Authority, has just equally assumed the chairmanship of the publicity sub-committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC) campaign committee in Akwa Ibom State.
He speaks on 2019 governorship contest in the state, the crisis in the state House of Assembly and other issues of interest.
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As a former federal lawmaker, what is your reaction to the ongoing imbroglio in the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly?
Recently, in this state (Akwa Ibom), there was an act of legislative delinquency in the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly and it’s a cause for concern. This delinquency arose from the poor perception of the constitutional provisions of the separation of powers. In separation of powers, according to the Nigerian constitution, the roles, functions and responsibilities of the Legislative, Judiciary and Executive are spelt out. What we have in Akwa Ibom is the general abatement of the tyranny of the few. And these people are tyrants in all material particulars. Because if there were not tyrants, they would not breach the constitutional provision; and of course, they would not diminish or disrespect the constitution which they swore to protect and defend.
What do you mean by constitutional breach here?
The rule of law as espoused in the principle of democracy has stated clearly that every man must be governed by the law. Last year, one Archibong representing Urueoffong/Uruko state constituency defected from APC to PDP and he is still there in the state House of Assembly. And the provision of the constitution as canvassed by the PDP in the state House of Assembly, in fact, not PDP, by the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, is that the section 109 is self-activated. It is wrong. Because the provision of the constitution in that section continues in the subsections, there are subsections which he has refused to mention. Defection must be at the instance of crises in the national party. There was no crisis in the national party of APC when Archibong defected.
Or in the event of a merger, merger is an outcome of a process. PDP went into a memorandum of understanding with other political parties, called today as CUPP. That memorandum of understanding is a process that will be leading to a merger. It is clear foundation for a merger.
So, constitutionally, if a person who ordinarily was a member of PDP now feels obliged that the party he is a member has compromised its principles and those things that attracted him to that party, by merging with the other party under the memorandum of understanding meaning that a merger is imminent, and under the constitution, he is obliged to defect.
And in this case, those gentlemen decided to defect in principle. The acclaimed propaganda is that, they defected because there were crisis and all of that, that’s wrong. They defected because PDP went into a process of merging and of course a name has now come out that is called CUPP. So, the Speaker therefore has no moral standing or constitutional backing to now rely on section 109 as the bases for the delinquent act.
It must also be noted that his action took place when his lawyers, the PDP lawyers and the House of Assembly lawyers were arguing a motion for a stay of execution in the court, meaning that he was aware of the pendency of a motion for stay, that it was served. So, he could not have claimed ignorant of the existence of a motion for a stay of execution. The lawyers were still arguing. But he went ahead to over reach himself, which is unbecoming of the position of the Speaker or an institution like the legislature in a democracy as reformed as ours.
But the speaker said he was obeying the directive of the court. How about that?
Yes, the Federal High Court gave a judgment and the victim or the person (that is Idongesit Ituen) has a right to appeal. The bases of that right were the one Deacon Udom Emmanuel exercised when the court of appeal removed him as governor of Akwa ibom State. You all are aware of the appeal arising from the tribunal. The governor was removed. But because, APC is very responsible, obliged him the liberty to go the apex court and still continue to exercise his constitutional rights. And of course, indeed he went. Bassey Albert was removed by same Federal High Court from the senate. Why did he not give up? Why did he (senate president) not swear-in Bassey Etim? It is because of these constitutional provisions. It’s because of the application of the rule of law. It is because of the disciplinary nature that APC constitutes; not wanting to take laws into our hands and enrich ourselves.
But the action of the speaker was intended to stampede those gentlemen who actually out of good conscience wanted to now defect to APC. It is also important to mention that if the decision of that Monday was precipitated by ignorance of our law that of the next Tuesday was a well-rehearsed drama which ordinarily, one would have expected that it is existed in the theatre of the absurd.
Why do you say so?
All the governor needed to do was to call for a state security council meeting so that the situation will be analysed based on gathered intelligence.
Security meeting while House Assembly is almost of fire?
The state governor can never act by the prompt of his instinct; he can never allow his emotion to overflow the cup of his ignorance of constitutional provisions by taking laws into his hands. And that was what he did. And this is condemnable. I said earlier that I’m a product of the legislature, and I’m from this state and I stand for democracy and I’m a chieftain of APC. But this issue I’m discussing with you is outside the cubicle of partisanship. It is outside the cubicle of political partisanship. It is intended to protect the constitution.
Could it be possible that the Speaker was applying deductive reasoning?
That cannot be done. It’s only in the animal kingdom. And of course these days you know that even in animal kingdom there is the orderliness which is now characterised by animals, because we are all sharing the tendencies of the artificial intelligence age. The animals are equally as orderly as you may ever imagine. Why will you purportedly declare their seats vacant during the pendency of their cases in court? Some of them their cases are coming up and there have been injunctive orders perhaps restraining the speaker from doing that.
And yesterday, from the clips I saw, I thought the governor went to present his scorecard at the PDP secretariat until I saw a symbol showing that that was the state House of Assembly. Because the retinue
of aides and those people he went with, I thought he was going to address a rally to present his score cards. He is looking for second term and he has not articulated a well laid out programme. He has announced a budget, 2019 budget talking about industrialisation.
Is industrialization not supposed to be a continuous process?
What about the industrialisation of 2015 till date? What about the vehicle plant in Itu? How many vehicles have we rolled out? The ranch in Uruan where we need to have a meat factory, what happened to them? The groundbreaking of the Christian Worship Centre after the disaster that took place at the old Uyo Village Road, generally, what is going on in this state is an attempt of someone wanting to undertake collective self-destruct. And those of us who believe in democracy are saying no. I won’t stand for that. There is no need of bringing security men into it. If I were a governor, no matter how delinquent my age or my inexperience could have brought to bear,
I would have first and foremost received intelligence whether they are correct or not; intelligence from security agencies. Then, I would align that intelligence with what I have at my disposal.
Today, you might have a stand. You stand with this government or you stand with that party, there is only one political party. The only political party with a manifesto is the Nigerian constitution, and the content of that constitution is very clear. The very primary purpose of government shall be the welfare and security of the people and that sovereignty belongs to the people. And in this case, they are taking it all from us. We cannot say anything; we cannot do anything. On social media, you’d see a lot of comments from cyber rodents. These cyber rodents are putting up all sorts of stories, some of those things they don’t know some of them are using even social media to practice their GST 111. You are the one on ground; you have seen these things, and you have benefited from democracy.
Do a content analysis on what I am saying, look at it closely, I have raised issues here, and if need be tell them, whether on the mountain or they are in the valley, let them come out and put this thing on the table, the people need to know the truth. And this is this truth I am saying and this truth will set us free.
There is this allegation and even fear that the APC is using federal might to intimidate the PDP members in the state. What do you say about this?
What PDP is trying to do by talking about federal might is because they know APC is winning this state; they know that very well. You, who reside in this state, know that APC has population, it has strength, and it has capacity indeed they are winning. On May 29, 2019, the 5th governor of this state will be Nsima Ekere who is going to be elected on the platform of APC. And of course when they know this, what else, what kind of song do you expect them to sing? The content of their swan song is characterised by that kind of comment they are making. Where is the federal might? The federal might is the allocation which has been freely given to this state and we are the highest. That’s the federal might; it’s from the federation account. What has it been used for? To develop infrastructure, or to go and pay for television show where they carry a portion of the road that has been tarred, then the other one which has been abandoned is not carried. And they say only God. It is only God who will tolerate this kind of thing; the electorate of this state will not tolerate it.
The state chairman of your party recently asked the federal government to declare a state of emergency in Akwa Ibom. Is that justified?
Well, APC believes in the rule of law and they believe in constitutionalism. The provisions are very clear. You are aware in this country that it happened in Plateau State and you are aware of it; where the state House of Assembly was now managed from the House of Representatives. And I think it happened in Kogi State too. So, why is Akwa Ibom State an exception of such proposal? So, what APC is saying is that, they must show restraint. The only way they should show restraint is what I have explained to you, by making sure that they allow the rule of law to prevail. They allow the court; they allow separation of power to take place.