THE TALE OF ABH’S NEW GENERAL
By Sunmi Eweje and Jesujuwon Olawuyi
“Without prejudice to other articles of this constitution, all matters not addressed by the constitution shall be decided by the Hall Assembly.” – 2022 Amended Alexander Brown Hall Constitution
The late General Sani Abacha is one of the most noteworthy officials this country has seen, regardless of whether or not the impact he left in his wake is seen in a positive light. He is remarkable for the sole reason that well over 20 years later, he is still actively remembered and spoken about on numerous occasions by the average Nigerian. Considering that the current President of Alexander Brown Hall, Mr Salami David, has decided to take a few pages out of Sani Abacha’s book on how to rule, it is easy to deduce that his footprints will also not be forgotten anytime soon in ABH’s history.
Many might not remember this, but one of the things the late Sani Abacha did while in power was to dissolve, dissolve and dissolve some more, everything from committees to executive offices, with little to no explanation whatsoever – of course, he was the Head of State. This is a theme that is being featured in Mr Salami’s tenure. First, we ponder on when, where and who imbued the office of the hall chairperson with the right to issue and retract missives at will. We also cannot help but feel that this trend of “executive orders” might have been easier to stomach if it was backed by consistency or a seeming understanding of the situation at hand. We understand that this comparison might seem like a stretch, and understandably so; however, we must watch certain precedences closely regardless of how well-meaning they seem. This is because when an action has been taken twice, one cannot but fear the occurrence of a third and what it may bring.
If, like most Brownites, you are strongly apathetic towards the hall’s politics and affairs, excluding issues like water and electricity, then it is likely the last few missives from ABH’s executive Council went over your head. To summarize what occurred – an executive order was released prohibiting Brownites from gathering at will within the hall between 1 am and 7 am, and an even greater level of restriction was placed on gatherings involving the use of speakers or “loud instruments” because of supposed security concerns and complaints from Brownites.
The executive order
As expected, this rubbed several Brownites the wrong way. The issue of noise pollution is one topic that always resurfaces, so it can be understood that Mr Salami and his executives only intended to get ahead of the narrative and do what they could to mitigate the issue. Some of the concerns raised included – Why should the curfew last till 7 am? What would happen if someone indeed violated the executive order? What would happen after 40days? Of course, this is not to say that everyone disagreed with the executive order. However, one central question was whether this move by the Hall Executive Council was constitutional as it did not pass through the hall assembly. While the Hall Chairman maintained that a leader should be able to make decisions like this with their discretion and that not everything had to be stated in the constitution, the constitution’s position is clear. Article Two of the constitution explicitly states that the Hall Assembly shall decide all matters not addressed by the constitution. Whether or not one agrees with the Hall Chairperson, one thing is sure – the law is the law.
As Brownites tried their best to digest this order, a new order refuting it followed in a matter of days. It did not help that the new order was clearly hastily drawn and released. It was not dated, written in the wrong font size and overall, aesthetically displeasing for what should be an official document. The Council claimed that the reason for its prior order’s dismissal resulted from having met and resolved the existing concerns and complaints with the various implicated bodies and organizations. It makes one wonder why this route was not taken to begin with. In plainer terms, it seems the Executive Council’s first choice was to inconvenience Brownites rather than tackle the issue at its roots, sparing Brownites the grief. That is, given that these “security concerns and unending complaints” were actually resolved and did not just magically vaporize following input from the Hall Assembly.
Subsequent executive order
In an interview, the chairperson, Mr David Salami, revealed that it was strongly recommended to the Executive Council that the order be retracted to maintain political peace. He also divulged that the right of the Council to issue such an order was also called into question. He said that the Council reconvened afterwards, and although the members unanimously voted against retracting the order, he exercised veto power and went ahead to retract it anyways. It makes one curious as to why he bothered asking their opinion to begin with because you would think that, seeing as it was a unanimous vote, a democratic leader would have yielded as all members of his cabinet were in the agreement unless he had no faith in their decision-making skills. It appears that, like fingers, all votes are not equal. Again one would question the political basis of this move, as the constitution has clear guidelines as regards voting within the Executive Council. But one would wonder the point since they were voting on a rather unconstitutional move in the first place.
On 11th August 2022, Miss Esther Subuloye was handed a letter signed by both the Hall Chairperson and the Hall Secretary, placing her on compulsory leave for reasons that require her to reach the Hall Chairperson for clarification. It goes without saying that this is another classic Abacha move. Even Brownites know that the Hall Chairperson cannot place another duly elected member of the Executive Council on compulsory leave. We will recall that an even milder situation than this had people calling for the head of former Hall Chairperson, Folajomi Isa, as the information minister was said to have been sidelined from activities regarding the publicity for the Hall Week. Regardless of how that saga ended or what Miss Subuloye might be guilty of, this is a case of abuse of power, and Brownites can only wonder why this line of action was adopted and what was hoped to be achieved by it.
Notice For A Compulsory Leave
It was apparent this tenure would be a tumultuous one right from the elections, but this is quickly exceeding what Brownites bargained for. We have on our hands a Council that flagrantly abuses power without regard for Brownites and a Hall Assembly that has become suspiciously silent on issues that previously would have been cause for impeachment. My best wishes are with all Brownites as we navigate the treacherous waters this tenure has presented. Once bitten, twice shy. We have been bitten twice and only hope a third leaves us with our heads.