John Gaul and the House of Sleepers —by Simon Utsu


Simon Utsu|10 January 2017 Towards the end of last year, I promised to tackle the lacklustre leadership of the Speaker of the 8th Cross River State House of Assembly (CRSHA) this year. I expressed my disappointment at him for squandering the goodwill the youth in the state had in him in less than a year.
I was in Calabar for the yuletide for the first time in a while and I was quite disappointed by the decline in leadership which was evident from what I saw on ground. The last 18 months have been spent by critics blasting the governor but I must say John Gaul and his house of sleeping lawmakers equally deserve stick. I think this year, critics should focus more on them. I mean, I've never seen any state house of assembly since 1999 that has been easily 'pocketed' by the executive like this one. Instead of doing what the constitution demands of them; to checkmate the excesses of the governor and pass meaningful legislation, they've spent the last 18 months chasing shadows. It's either the feeble John Gaul is busy attending an inconsequential seminar abroad together with his dirty dozen in the house, or writing annoying philosophical stuff on his social media page. That's his scorecard in the last 18 months, that sums up the 'achievement' of his house of assembly in same period. Then there's another member, one Peter Odey who comes across as a very annoying young man. A few days ago, a social media critic (Joe Odok) accused him of going to the Abuja houses of rich constituents of his to beg for funds. Instead of Peter Odey to come up with a meaningful and convincing defense, he resorted to personal attacks and even invited a couple of his uncultured online-thugs to join the fray and help him in maligning Mr Odok's image. He was eventually cut to size when personal dirt on him were dug up and sprayed on the thread too. What a dishonourable man Mr Peter Odey is turning out to be! What motivated this resolve of mine (to tackle Cross River State House of Assembly members) even more was an experience I had in Calabar a fortnight back. I bumped into a younger friend of mine who now works with UNICEM (LAFARGE) cement company. He complained of how the company of recent, has been delaying their salaries for months on end. This anomaly only started when UNICEM's head office was relocated to Lagos few months ago. First question I asked was, why should the operational Headquarters of south-south companies always be located in or moved (sneakily) to Lagos which is far away in southwestern Nigeria? If the Lagos state government is providing some kind of ‎tax privileges to these companies, isn't it the house's (CRSHA) responsibility to drive legislation that will attract LAFARGE and other private sector companies operating in the state to site their operational HQs in Calabar? This would come after first querying and summoning the management of the company(ies) to the house and mandating them to relocate the HQ back to Calabar or face severe sanctions. The latter being a tentative measure and the former a permanent fix viz the panacea. I'm not even a lawyer with an operational chambers and ten years of legal experience like speaker John-Gaul  to know all this- just by following proceedings at the National assembly, I'm able to come up with this model. No one is saying speaker John Gaul and his ‎fellow sleeping members should suddenly jump up and start looking for who or what to impeach, all I'm saying is, they should sit up, check the Governor's excesses as at when due and churn out masses-oriented legislation. Failure to do this as soon as possible will only lead to a continuation of our demarketing drive. In fact, if John Gaul and his sleeping house members fail to sit up to their responsibilities, I promise them that we're going to ensure that they lose political relevance (individualy) before 2019. Simon Utsu.
Commonsense 'activist‎'
Twitter: @simonchairman‎