And so, on Monday January 27, the Federal Government through the instrumentality of the office of Attorney-General of the Federation and the Inspector-General of Police, assaulted federalism by taking over the administration of local government authorities in Oyo State from the state government. At a glance, the justification by the AGF, Abubakar Malami, for crossing the line was to apply a judgment of the Supreme Court on the tenure of local government chairmen in the country. But beyond the surface, what emerges is a crude, aggressive and convoluted campaign to distract the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) elected government of Mr. Seyi Makinde in Oyo State. First off, the AGF is not unaware of the fact that the matter of tenure of the suspended local government chairmen in Oyo State is still subject to litigation in two separate suits. It is curious to know why the chief law officer of the country would, enforcement on a matter that is sub-judice. If Malami had the particular interest of the law in mind when he asking for a reinstatement of the suspended chairmen, he would have been guided by the response of the state government to the effect that the subject matter is already in the process of adjudication and he would have allowed all parties to maintain the status quo. The AGF was blind to the realities of the law when he marched policemen to all local government secretariats in Oyo State with the mandate to reinstall suspended local government chairmen who belong to the All Progressives Congress (APC). It was an act of ignominy to imagine that under a democracy, a certain political party would rely on brute force to subjugate the judiciary, rig the due process and forcefully take over the reins of power unto itself in manner of daylight robbery.
If AGF Malami was truly interested in applying the rule of law in the matter of local government chairmen tenure in Oyo State, he would have cautioned himself by waiting for the pronouncement of the court. Rather, he made the Inspector General of Police to instruct the police commissioner in Oyo State to ensure compliance with the order to make the suspended chairmen resume duty at councils on Monday. The IGP, on his own too, went overboard by allegedly writing the chairman of the APC in Oyo State, according to a document that went viral on the social media, to liaise with the state’s Commissioner of Police in ensuring that the suspended chairmen resume duty in disregard to the subsisting adjudication on the matter. If that information were true, then we should ask the IGP if the action he deployed his men to prosecute in Oyo state was for the interest of the APC or for the good of the people. It cannot be far-fetched that the only reason why the Federal Government took such a disgraceful step is because the PDP government in Oyo State is fast becoming a model of good governance and such a profile should not be allowed to crystallize. Governor Makinde has raised the profile of governance in Oyo State to the envy of the opposition APC and it is only logical that the opposition would employ federal might at its disposal to slow down the momentum of the Makinde administration.
What the opposition APC fails to understand is that the PDP government in Oyo State enjoys a very broad support from the mass of the people and any attempt to distract the governor from the path he has taken is like taking a charge against the people. It is thus little wonder that on the day when the Federal Government forces planned to do their inglorious march through local government secretariats across Oyo State, the people applied wisdom by not being led into provocation. The state’s chapter of National Union of Local Government Employee (NULGE) embarked on a strike in protest against the heist on their members’ secretariats. Also, the public in Ibadan and other townships and localities in Oyo state refrained from responding to the assault being launched against them. It will be in the interest of the opposition APC in Oyo State to know that its voyage in rocking the boat of governance in the state will end up as self-sabotage, as such will only widen the dislike of the masses for them. And so unfortunately for the suspended chairmen, submitting themselves to be used as cannon fodder in the onslaught against the people of Oyo State by the Federal Government showed poor judgment. I don’t think that the judiciary will take their misconduct lightly, and they will also attract reproach from the people. The suspended chairmen would be day-dreaming if they entertained the slightest thought that the shenanigans that happened on Monday would do any good to their cause.
Balogun, a public affairs expert, lives in Ibadan.