By Josef Omorotionmwan
SHAKESPEARE is being reversed from his: “What the great ones do, the less we prattle of”, to the current reality in Edo State of: “What the great ones do, the more we prattle of”.
The Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole-led administration cast a stone on the house with a view to locating the position of the house owner. It was a simple demand of the Primary Six Certificate from the teachers of the State.
From the smallest things, the greatest often grow. And suddenly, the Primary Six Certificate is gaining new prominence, particularly as it answers some tough questions, which even the PhD cannot answer.
The Primary School Certificate could also be a thief-catcher or a lie detector. Once upon a time, there was this feeble old man who worked as a gateman. He was already a spent force and a man of declining productivity. He still claimed he had four years to serve government. The truth about him was difficult to find because with an insider help, he kept renewing his age and changing his record of service.
It took a lot of planning, cajoling and a bit of tricks to get people of that department to produce their Primary School Certificates. In the case of the old man, it was when his certificate was juxtaposed against his age at the time that it was found that he finished primary school at the age of three years, which means he started school some three years before he was born.
The simple demand from Edo State has set people running from pillar to post and tongues are wagging, including insinuations and innuendoes that the Oshiomhole administration has suddenly become a hater of teachers and that the demand is a punishment for their failure to support his second-term bid for the governorship. And the truth, which Oshiomhole knows about, is that if there were people who supported him during the July 2012 election, they were the teachers.
Some teachers have returned to say that their alma mater was destroyed by fire and flood. Worse still, they are unable to remember when they finished primary school. The truth, though, is that while one might easily forget when one obtained the Bachelor’s and Masters degrees, one hardly forgets the year of primary school graduation.
In sum, the deadwoods will gradually filter themselves out. All those who have the circumstances of “Unborn tomorrow, dead yesterday” around their certificates will soon start running on their own. Essentially, the Edo State Government may be asking for the Primary School Certificate for its cleansing value.
Will somebody please point the House of Representatives to order for endangering the doctrine of separation of powers, which the 1999 Constitution laboured so hard to give a prime of place?
Evidently, people who live or work together must occasionally disagree. Remember the belief that as close as they are, the tongue and the teeth still quarrel? Yes, in March 2012, there was a hot exchange between Ms. Arunma Oteh, Director-General, Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC and Herman Hembe, then Chairman of the House Committee on Capital Markets and other Financial Institutions, at the Committee Room.
That was not the first of its kind. Compared to the Second Republic clash between Ambassador LSM Oshobase and Senator Shitta-Bey on the floor of the Senate, the Oteh/Hembe exchange could pass for a storm in a tea cup. The Senate still went ahead to confirm Oshobase’s nomination as an Ambassador. That was then.
The exchange between Oteh and Hembe only led to the fall of Hembe and the dissolution of his Committee. Oteh’s accusations on Hembe were weighty enough that in our piece of April 5, 2012, this Column thought that we would hear more from the EFCC but true to type, the EFCC has perhaps not lifted a finger since then.
Over the years, Oteh had built a firm foundation around her life. With a first class degree in Computer Science from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, further fortified with a solid MBA from Harvard; and a distinguished career as Vice-President, African Development Bank, she couldn’t stand watching her reputation go down the toilet in a single flush. She even reckons that when she attained her educational levels, some of the current legislators were still pinning their ABC together.
After the grubby show at the House, Oteh was sent on suspension and the SEC Board ordered a probe by Pricewater House Coopers and she got a clean bill, which paved the way for her return to office.
All the same, the House of Representatives has taken the fight to integrity. They insist that Oteh is not qualified to be DG of SEC and that she must go. This is a serious abuse of legislative powers. It is an affront on the Senate, which confirmed Oteh’s nomination in 2010. It endangers the doctrine of the separation of powers because the President who appointed her has not found her wanting.
SEC has been deleted from the 2013 Appropriations. Again, this is not the first of its kind. In the Second Republic, against the will of the National Assembly, President Shehu Shagari appointed Presidential Liaison Officers, PLOs, in each of the then 19 states.
The National Assembly removed the PLOs from the budget with effect from the 1980 Fiscal Year. But President Shagari kept them and effectively maintained their offices until the demise of that Republic. How he got the money to maintain them has remained everybody’s conjecture. The best we could guess was that he paid the PLOs from his security vote.
The President must not cave in and sacrifice Oteh. Government was much saner in the Shagari days. While the House sorts out itself, Jonathan should have no difficulty funding the operations of SEC from his security vote and all the slush funds floating around. After all, there can be no greater security threat than that posed to the Capital Market by the House of Representatives.