The Need for Order in the House of Rt. Hon Stephen Ajenifuja

-Timilehin Precious

Among the halls of residence in the University of Ibadan, the Independence hall is one of the very few that can boast of functional political structures like the legislative council. Up until now, the existence of the legislature has contributed immensely to political inclusivity, political consciousness and accountable governance in Indy hall. It would not be strange to therefore call out this same structure on the account that it is gradually losing its sanctity. The following paragraphs contain a part report, part analysis of what the house looks like through a third eye lens. The latter part also draw inference from these inconsistencies and suggests possible measures to help the house regain its hallowedness.

THE HALL LEGISLATURIVE HOUSE IN THE LAST TWO SITTINGS

During the administration of Hon. Adegoke Samuel as the Speaker of the Indy hall legislative council, Indy Press made some observations about the state of the hall legislature. As at that time, legislative inconsistencies were attributed to the pandemic. Naturally, the call out should have triggered positive reactions and catalyzed the formation of a more conscious legislative council. However, the last two sittings of the new legislative council are clear indications of the exact opposite. Here are some things Indy Press has observed that are worthy of public interests:

At the moment, the house has just eight sitting members instead of 13 to attend to legislative matters in the hall. Upon examination, it became evident that three floors are currently not being represented in the house. It was also discovered that the legislative council bears no direct responsibility for this lack of representation. During the election period last session, no individual indicated interest among the students in those constituencies.

However, in the last two sittings, the concern about this lack of representation was dwarfed by a staggering display of apathy by majority of the law makers. For instance, in the budget presentation sitting, one would expect a certain level of seriousness, and objective scrutiny. Were these law makers concerned about budgetary discussions? Maybe, maybe not. How many of them were objective enough to ask the right questions from the right people? Just two law makers – aside the speaker and the deputy speaker – showed any enthusiasm. Out of these two law makers, only one– by the name Hon. Iyanu – showed any sign of a grasp of the legislative procedures and the correct application of the constitution. Everyone would agree that the law makers – at the very least – should display a considerable level of interest in matters of such weighty consequences, isn’t it?

The consequences of this apathy has played out in the overall flow of the legislative sittings since resumption. There has been an almost palpable disregard for due process and the sacredness of the chambers, especially at the budget presentation for the session, during the second plenary sitting. For instance, there were instances of subliminal jabs and occasions of rude remarks – by some members of the executive body and the legislative council. In the same sitting, the one-time student union aspirant, Mr. Olofinade Ebenezer showed up in the house some hours into the budget defense. During this period, his entry created a momentary interruption due to the loud bang of the doors of the chambers. Whether as an act of intention or not, the chief whip made no motion to correct him or compel him to adhere to the tradition of the house. To crown it all, Mr. Ebenezer made his way into the chambers with a pet and no member of the house made any attempt to question this act.

Furthermore, the chief whip – constitutionally charged with maintaining order in the house – showed continuous lack of conduct himself. To start with, in no sane chamber does a Chief whip adopt angry reactions and subtle threats as means of maintaining order. There are of course better and more civilized means to ensure compliance to the rules of the house. The Indy hall legislative council used to be a representation of sanctity, and political authority. A house whose members respected every tiny detail of the legislative tradition, and sanctioned any deviation from these traditions. Therefore, an apparent and inherent disregard for the weight of these processes only passes across the message of the freedom of disrespect to the public don’t you think?

THE HOUSE AND CONSTITUTIONAL LOOPHOLES

Sometimes last session, Indy Press raised major concerns about the Independence hall constitution. As of today, both the last legislative council and the new one did not make any move to address these issues. It is therefore pertinent to bring some of the issues back with respect to how the affect the hall, and by extension katangites.

Firstly, there is an obvious dissonance between most of the provisions of the constitution and the current realities of Katangites. To cite a few, offices like that of the house secretary and the social and buttery commissioner – that are directly connected to the welfare of katangites –do not have their roles explicitly spelt out. Also, some committees – like the social and buttery and the information and strategy committees – have constitutionally assigned responsibilities that are outdated in the current scheme of things. The dictates of the constitution as regard these situations were obviously spelt out in consideration of the reality as at the time of the documentation. The hall has new problems, new issues, modern concerns and a distinct reality.

Furthermore, some provisions in the current constitution are not practical, considering the current political structure of the hall. For instance, the electoral commission is to include four politicians – legislators to be precise – among its eight members. Legislatures are partisan by virtue of their offices; they were elected into the house against some other candidates. By implication, this arrangement challenges the integrity of the electoral committee as an independent body free of any partisan influence.

In addition to that, the constitution provides the inclusion of editorial board members of the press in the information and strategy committee of the hall. Take note, which the committee is charged with making an image for the hall by the same constitution. They are also charged with overseeing the debating society of the hall. However, the press in an independent body that is obliged to publishing the truth regardless of any affiliations. This creates an antecedent for situations of conflicting interest and an inherently divided committee.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR RESTORING THE SANCTITY OF THE LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL

Every problem has fundamental causative actions. It is important that the house of Rt. Hon Ajenifuja sets itself in order by tackling these inconsistencies from the roots. First, the constitution of the great independence hall is outdated in every sense of it. The last time this constitution was amended was in 2006. It is pertinent that the current legislative council addresses this. The creation of a committee for the review and amendment of the constitution is long overdue. Even in the face of procedural delays – which are necessary and inevitable – the house should set the ball rolling for posterity to build on.

Also, considerations should be given to proper re-orientation of the law makers about the powers the legislature represents in the scheme of things. To facilitate these, the house should be fast on co-opting the former speaker, and some respected legislators from past administrations. These individuals should be charged with orienting the new law makers and pointing out inconsistencies as the legislative sittings progress.

Finally, it is pertinent that the house, the executive and Katangites understand that structures were created for a sole purpose – advancing the course of Indy hall. With that in mind, everyone should contribute their quota to this course by strictly adhering to due process and accountable leadership. Aluta Continua!

 

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