IF you are a fervent follower of events in Edo State House of Assembly, you would think the legislators were being paid to exhibit their stale boxing skills. Last week, the hospitals in Benin City were busy receiving victims of the most recent flurry of punches unleashed in a gathering that is supposed to make laws for the good governance of the State.
The Houseâ€™s emergency services expended its medical resources before transferring the injured to hospitals in the city.Â Marks inflicted on opponents were worthy evidence of the venom with which the punches (some claim axes) were delivered on target.
What were the issues that only sheer brute could resolve? They were not so clearly stated. It seemed the feuding parties â€“ the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and the Action Congress, AC – considered ownership of the Speakership of the House an important weapon that had to be included in their arsenal by all means.
The House can impeach a Governor, ignore his bills, and refuse to screen his appointees or grill commissioners over the budget until a truce is reached. It is therefore important to have the Speaker in oneâ€™s corner.
Changes in the stateâ€™s political landscape in the past few months are leading to alliances that are re-drawing the political map. While the domineering Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, had the state for the past 10 years, the arrival of AC, after the reversal of the governorship election in its favour has seen scores of prominent PDP members decamp to AC.
There are 12 AC members in the House to the PDPâ€™s 11. The political party affiliations of the membership of the House rest on the moment on quick sand. It is during voting that the affiliations of members can be ascertained.
Positions in the House are bound to be stiffly contested as the two parties jostle for advantage. Blow has started flowing, positions are being lost and gained, yet the people of Edo are not party to these interests and the caustic consequences they impose on the people.
What would it cost for peace to return to the politics of unmaking laws in the State? Why do the police stare as legislators unleash their fury on their opponents? Does parliamentary immunity mean a legislator can act lawlessly and get away with his misconduct?
If legislators are excused to breach the peace with such cocky abandon, they would continue to place themselves above the law. Most likely those more seriously battered would mend their shattered parts at public expense. Should we allow this to continue?
The fights confirm the low levels of tolerance in the House, poor appreciation of parliamentary discipline and that where selfish interests are about to suffer, prospective victims are willing to defend the stakes with their lives.
Edo House of Commotion would continue until politicians realise they are actually called to serve the people.