Wednesday, April 18, 2018 5:27 pm
• The Chief Moses Majekodunmi Connection!
By Ademola Adegbamigbe
When some unknown individuals invaded the Nigerian Senate on Wednesday 18 April 2018 and seized the mace, the entire chamber turned topsy turvy. If it were a long time ago, federal lawmakers would have left the place with bloodied noses, calloused fingers, broken limbs and mangled craniums. They would have given us the image of weird characters in a horror movie, after suffering attacks of blood hounds.
Why did the intruders seize the mace while the sergeant at harms was helpless? The invaders simply overpowered him, seized the mace and melted into the walls! If it were in the past, chairs would have been flowing in squadrons from one end to the other. Such projectiles would have left many bald, pot bellied and chubby cheeked Senators scampering with flailing hands and agbada parachutes, for the exit. Nothing like that happened apart from many angry senators howling like wolves in a park. At least, they went home with their heads intact. With their hands also still in place, they could still coil them around their wives later in the evening in the other room.
There is a man to thank for this. His name is Chief Moses Adekoyejo Majekodunmi C.F.R, C.M.G. (17 August 1916 – 11 April 2012), a Nigerian gynaecologist, obstetrician and politician. He was also Minister of Health in the Nigerian First Republic.
Born in Abeokuta in August 1916, Majekodunmi studied at Abeokuta Grammar School, St. Gregory’s College, Lagos and the University of Dublin where he earned a degree in Anatomy and Physiology in 1936. He also earned a 1st Class degree in Bacteriology and Clinical Medicine in 1940.
He joined the Federal Government Medical Services as a medical doctor in 1943 and established his medical practice and was part of those who played major roles in setting up the Lagos University Teaching Hospital. However, he was also his own man; he founded Saint Nicholas Hospital in Lagos in March 1968.
For Majekodunmi, it was not only a matter of syringes and stethoscopes. He was a big politician too. And here is why his role was important in the 2018 Senate mace snatching drama. In fact, he was not a stranger to legislative matters as he was elected into the Nigerian Senate in 1960. In 1962, Majekodunmi was appointed sole administrator of Western Region after a political crisis between Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Chief Ladoke Akintola. This degenerated into violence in the Western Regional House of Assembly with parliamentarians throwing chairs at one another.
This was narrated by Barr Femi Kehinde, a former Member, House of Representatives:
“On the 27th of May 1962, 66 Members of the House of Assembly, out of 112 Members had passed a vote of no confidence on the Premier which was to be concretized by a meeting of the House to debate the vote of no confidence. The session at the House was disrupted. The Speaker of the House- Hon. Adeleke Adedoyin, after summoning the House to an emergency session, had barely, after the introduction of the motion, by Chief Odebiyi, Hon. S.A. Tinubu from Iresi, in present day Osun State, grabbed a hand bell, ringing to cause commotion.
“Hon Emmanuel Ebubedike, an Igbo man from Ozubulu, in present day Anambra State, representing Ajeromi- Badagry-Ifelodun Constituency, who had been displeased with the unaccomplished ambition of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe to become the first Premier of the Western Region, seized the opportunity to grind an axe, grabbed the mace and broke it into pieces, whilst Chief Adeyi took a chair and hit Hon. Kensington Momoh on the head, which also narrowly missed the Speaker- Hon. Adeleke’s head. As this was going on, Hon E.O. Oke from Ogbomosho South West Constituency, started shouting, fire on the mountain! Fire on the mountain! There was mayhem and pandemonium- Two Premiers had emerged. Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola and Alhaji Dauda Soroye Adegbenro.
“Akintola had earlier been removed by the Governor of Western Region, Governor Adesoji Aderemi on the ground that he could no longer command the support of Majority Members of the House of Assembly, following the interpretations of Section 33(10) of the Western Region of Nigeria Constitution, Which states that “the Governor can remove the Premier, when it appears to him that the Premier no longer commands the respect of Majority Members of the House of Assembly”.
“Akintola physically fought his removal. On the orders of the Governor, the office of the Premier was locked amidst tight Police security. Chief Lekan Salami, personally in the full glare of the public and the press, broke down the door of the office of the Premier, to allow him access to the office. This incidence was popularly referred to as “Akintola taku– meaning- “Akintola refuses to go” which was also named after a stubborn lemon grass- Chromolaena Odorata (botanical name).”
Read more on the crisis here: http://staging.thenewsnigeria.com.ng/2017/06/what-you-dont-know-about-samuel-ladoke-akintola/3/
Chief Majekodunmi, when he resumed as administrator, took two steps: First, on advice from the police, he signed restriction orders to detain leaders of both factions. Chief Awolowo was restricted to Lekki Peninsula; Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola, Oloke Meji Forestry Guest House and Chief Rosiji and Chief F.R.A. Williams were restricted to Abeokuta.
Second, he awarded a contract that seats in the Assembly chamber should be fixed to the floor. Thus, it was no longer easy for legislators to throw chairs to break teeth.
Since then, that became the practice, not only in Western Region, but other states and the federal level up to 2018. In other words, if not that the chairs in today’s senate were fixed to the floor, senators would have used them freely on one another, breaking noses here and lips there…