The Speaker of Cross River State House of Assembly, Honourable John Gaul Lebo, has stated that Legislators are the worst hit set of Politicians after leaving office because ”they are the ones who feel less the financial benefits of government than anyone else”. He stated this today when he featured as Guest of ”The HIT Breakfast Show” aired on HIT 95.9 FM, Calabar, Cross River State.
The Speaker attributed the recent brawl in the floor of Edo State House of Assembly to a quest for ”welfare”, adding that it was an unnecessary incident that arose from a situation where some members of that House felt that the Governor of Edo State was not taking adequate care of them.
He said: “So, in Edo State, sixteen of their members had threatened to decamp to PDP because their welfare was not taken care of and they have the impression that the Governor was only taking care of the Speaker and a few members which is where the whole issue came up. So when the Speaker had an opportunity to travel abroad during summer and not with his colleagues, when he came back, it was like a climax of what shouldn’t have happened.”
Honourable Lebo condemned the fight that erupted in that House, stating that fighting is not part of legislative duties. He said that the procedure for impeaching any Speaker of a legislative House is constitutional, adding that it gives room for fair hearing from a Speaker accused of misconduct. Speaking on the allegation that the impeached Speaker of Edo State House of Assembly abused his office because he allows his wife to drive in a convoy and also allows his son to drive official vehicles, Honourable Lebo said that these are not impeachable offences. He explained that the Speaker’s wife is Chairman of a body known as Legislators Wives Association (LEWA). However, ”that is not to say that the wife of a Speaker can at all times represent the Speaker in an event. It is a matter of culture…. The Speaker himself must conduct himself well and try to avoid controversy.”
Meanwhile, today’s episode of “The HIT Breakfast Show” focused mainly on the ”Not Too Young Bill” which has been read in the National Assembly and awaits consideration by State Houses of Assembly in Nigeria.
Honourable Lebo disclosed that he has always supported the bill and Cross River State House of Assembly would vote in support of it, when it gets to the House. He said ”I think that it is time that we should draw a leadership agenda for young people and fix appropriate age preparatory for them so that first at the age of 25 years there should be that leadership consciousness knowing that at 25 you are a man and you can run for public office…. My concern has always been that even though the bill says ‘not too young to run’, it doesn’t mean not too young to govern.”
The Speaker corrected the notion held by some people that the bill would ease out older politicians from vying for public office, stating that the constitution still allows older politicians to contest elections. He said: ” It is not a condition that when you want to run for an office, the only condition you show is that you are 25 years. It still means that you need to show capacity, you need to show experience. Political parties are competitive platforms, so they would want to bring up people who have capacity and are competitive to win elections. I doubt if a political party would bring a young person just because of age to go and run an election.”
Honourable Lebo added that in Cross River State,”not too young has always been operational and in practice.” He substantiated this by citing the fact that Donald Duke was Governor at the age of 35 while Liyel Imoke was Minister at 30 and Senator, shortly after, before becoming this state’s Governor. He said: ”As I speak now, we have Commissioners who are 31, 32, 33, 34. Chairmen of Local Governments and Councillors are in their 20s.” According to him, nine members of the current House of Assembly are about 35 years old while Special Assistants in the State Executive Council are people in their 20s, mostly.
Nevertheless, he stated that young people of nowadays still have a long way to go, in terms of acquiring capacity and gaining experience. He said: . ”First, the quality and standard of education that our young people are getting is very low and very poor. Number 2 is that, even young people these days, there is more political experience that they try to acquire in the course of the university than intellectual experience. You find someone in the University who is calling himself a Senator, you find someone who is calling himself Chairman of Caucus, Stakeholder Chairman, Spirit Head… they spend a lot of time trying to build political responsibility in the University without looking at the intellectual capacity.”
Honourable Lebo cited himself as an example of a Politician who acquired a good level of capacity building and experience after his graduation from Law School, before his foray into active politics, eleven years after. He said:
”If you are running for House of Assembly, House of Assembly is one of the most difficult public office you run for. House of Assembly is an intellectual Institution. When you go there, you just get lost. Even with all of the experience as a lawmaker, when you go there you still need to learn the procedure and the proceedings all over. The mere fact that you are 25 is for me, enough for you to run for office but it is not enough for you to govern in that office… Running for office you can run and run out of the office. In other words, you may not be elected. But you may come out and contest…. For me my opinion is that they are a lot of young people who can be ready at the age of 25 to contest for an office. Whether they would be ready to manage the office is a different ball game entirely.”
”The Hit Breakfast Show” is presented from 6:00am to 9:00am every weekday on HIT 95.9 FM Calabar. It is anchored by Maurice Inok (Doctor Groove) and Uke Ogah (YouKay).
- Cornelius Ellah