On Monday the 15th of April 2024, the Hall Assembly of Alexander Brown Hall convened to debate on a matter of utmost significance to the current election cycle. One week ago, an open letter from a Brownite led to the revelation that some aspirants for various executive positions in the Hall were not on the ratified list of members of the committees they claimed to have served. As a result, their eligibility to run for office was called into question. While many speculated, members of the Executive Council and Hall Assembly have sought means to resolve the quagmire. To that effect, the Executive Council, led by the Hall Chairman sent a petition to the Hall Assembly, asking that an updated list of committee members be ratified by the Hall Assembly. It was for this reason that the Hall Assembly had a sitting on the aforementioned date.

At the beginning of the Assembly, the speaker bemoaned the tardiness of the Executive Council. At 10:27 pm, only one member of the Executive Council was present at the meeting, which was slated for 10 pm. The speaker also complained that the letter of petition was not properly written, stating that the Executive Councils had a poor attitude to due process in the hall, accusing them of “doing things how they like”.

Upon arrival of the Hall Chairman by 10:34 pm, the Hall Assembly began hearing comments and arguments regarding the matter at hand. Honorable Ezebialu argued that members were allowed to be added to committees, however limits should be enforced. She also pointed out that  participation in the committee does not translate to membership, as anyone can participate in a committee’s activities. The Speaker replied that he was not averse to adding members, but he was not comfortable with ratifying a list of committee members at the end of the tenure, especially after the Hall week. He also lamented the Executives’ failure to send a list of members of the Hall week committee to the Hall Assembly for ratification, pointing out further evidence of loose adherence to due process.

In response, The Hall Chairman explained that several members joined committees in the middle of the tenure, and it would be difficult to update the lists as members joined. He added that the plan was to send a list to the Hall Assembly at the end of the tenure for ratification because it will best represent all the members of the committee over the course of the tenure. An observer, Mr Okunola responded to the Hall Chairman’s claim that the list could not be repeatedly updated, accusing him of dishonesty as lists of  committee members were updated twice and ratified by the Hall Assembly in the last Executive Council, which the Hall Chairman was a part of. Another observer, Mr Inioluwa, stated that the decision of the Hall Assembly will set a dangerous precedent if they accepted the petition by the Executive Council. He claimed that lists updated at the end of the tenure make no sense as people who had not served may be added to lists to be ratified.

The Hall Chairman mentioned that it was not a novel occurrence and acknowledged the flaws in the system. He however stated that people who had genuinely served in committees may now be punished if they joined those committees late. Honorable Ndubueze argued that it was not the fault of committee members if their names were not sent to the hall assembly for ratification and they should not be punished for it.

Another observer, Mr Nnamdi claimed that it was too late to debate on whether a committee member was legitimate or not. He mentioned that it was either all the members were ratified or none of them were ratified as ratifying some of the committee members could be seen as bending the rules or creating new rules.

After almost two hours of deliberations, Honourable Ezebialu raised a motion that the petition by the Executive Council be rejected and that the heads of the committees submit a complete list of members at the end of the tenure for ratification. On the other side of the divide,  Honourable Ndubueze moved that the Hall Assembly accept the petition filed by the Executive Council and ratify the new lists of committee members.

The Hall Assembly voted 16 to 6 in favour of Honourable Ezebialu’s motion, rejecting the petition by the Executive Council and requesting that a final updated list be presented for ratification at the end of the tenure.

Shortly after the decision by the committee, several aspirants have announced their withdrawal from the race. Alonge Razaq Adebayo, Moshood Salam, Damilare Ismail Abdullahi and Vanessa Osaretin Ehiorobo all sent out notices of their withdrawal from contention for the offices of Social and Buttery Minister, Finance Minister, Health and Sanitation Minister and Female Affairs Minister, respectively.

Undoubtedly, the decision by the Hall Assembly marks a major beat in the progression of this election cycle. While many will bicker for days to come on whether the Hall Assembly made the right decision, it remains clear that proper adherence to due process would have saved a lot of grief in this issue. Going forward, the Hall may look to clarifying aspects of its constitution that may seem to be up to interpretation, and anyone trusted to serve the Hall must make sure they pay great attention to the processes and norms they have been tasked to uphold and not treat them with levity. Until these are done, this Hall Assembly and future legislators may still have landmark decisions brought before them.

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