Side Schemes That Produced Achuba As Kogi Deputy Gov
THE swearing-in of Mr. Simon Achuba as the deputy governor of Kogi State, may have temporarily laid to rest the issues surrounding the absence of a running mate for Governor Yahaya Bello, which without doubt was the first time such would happen in the history of Nigeria. But a lot still depends on the outcome of pending litigations.
Following the sudden death of Prince Abubakar Audu, the All Progressive Congress (APC), candidate in the November 21, 2015 governorship polls in the state, many gaps were created. There was need for a replacement for the party’s candidate for the supplementary election since James Abiodun Faleke was expected to retain his running mate position. However, Faleke not only rejected the position, but also refused to present himself for the inauguration/swearing in ceremony.
Faleke claimed to be the governor-elect and went further to challenge the declaration of Bello as Governor. He insisted that Audu/Faleke had won the election even before his principal’s death, arguing that there was no need for supplementary election. Bello, who was sworn into office as governor had to be on the saddle for nearly two weeks without a deputy until last Tuesday when the Kogi State House of Assembly, confirmed the appointment of Honourable Simon Achuba as his deputy.
The confirmation of the new deputy to replace Faleke followed the submission of his name to the legislative arm by Governor Bello. The Speaker of Kogi Assembly, Jimoh Lawal, who read the letter during plenary, said the governor had exercised his right under Section 191(3c) of the 1999 Constitution.
Proceedings on the floor suggested that the governor was still in control, given the drama that played out. The Assembly later dissolved into committee of the whole House under the chairmanship of the Speaker. Thereafter, it commenced the screening of the nominee.
The member representing Bassa State Constituency, Sunday Shigaba, (PDP) moved the motion for the confirmation of the nominee and immediately asked his colleagues to allow the nominee take a bow and leave the chambers as a former speaker. Another PDP member from Igalamela/Odolu constituency, Mr. Friday Sani, seconded the motion. He noted that despite his political leaning, Achuba would be a pride to the people of the state, stressing that there was no reason to put the former deputy speaker of the same Assembly through the rigors of questioning. That was all. The speaker expressed the readiness of the legislators to work with the governor in driving the change agenda in the state.
Speaking after his confirmation, Achuba expressed his readiness to contribute his quota to the development of the state adding, “The people should expect development they have never seen before.”
It would be recalled that power play in the state after the subsequent inauguration of Bello shifted to the Kogi State House of Assembly. The governor, out of desire to control thelevers in the Assembly, attempted to install a speaker that would be loyal to his course, especially over the vexed issue of not having a deputy. He wanted an APC member as speaker.
It was alleged that in line with his own agenda, Bello met with the former speaker, Hon. Momoh Jimoh-Lawal, over his replacement, as well as the seven members of the Assembly from APC, since the incumbent was also from same Kogi Central with him.
A source disclosed how the governor gave Speaker Jomoh-Lawal N50m and N7.5m each to other PDP members to support APC Hon Ahmed Imam Umar of Lokoja 1 constituency from Kogi West against another Kogi West PDP member, Honourable Prince Kolawole Olushola from Kabba/Bunu constituency for the position of speakership ahead of the declaration of the deputy governor, zoned to Kogi East.
However, peace seemed to have eluded the legislators over the choice of Honorable Ahmed representing Lokoja 1 as replacement for the incumbent Speaker, Honourable Jimoh Lawal. Earlier, just before the new wave of crises; the same Assembly was faced with a political impasse when 17 members inconclusively impeached the Speaker Jmoh-Lawal. Other principal officers that were also affected in the impeachment included the deputy, Ali Akuh and the minority leader, Hassan Bello, at the plenary held on the floor of the house.
Members elected Osiyi Ojo, representing Ogori/Magongo state constituency as the new Speaker, John Abah from Ibaji state constituency, who is also the Chairman House Committee on Information and Orientation as the deputy Speaker, while Linus Enenche was elected as the minority leader.
As at the time of filing this report, the Assembly is still reeling from the hiccups of the impeachment attempt. The crises were not unconnected with the belief that Governor Bello would not complete his tenure because of litigations and many absurdities in his emergence.
As such the power play in the Legislature is ostensibly to position a speaker that would be useful as acting governor, should a rerun election be ordered.
Investigation by The Guardian revealed that in what looked like a coup in the current impasse, just as the supporters of Ahmed in Lokoja were preparing to roll out their drums to celebrate their kinsman’s appointment as speaker, the National Secretariat of the People’ s Democratic Party (PDP), summoned its members in the state House of Assembly to Abuja for an emergency meeting.
The Guardian reliably gathered that members of the National Working Committee, including members of the Kogi State Working Committee of the party, were in attendance. The meeting, said to have been chaired by the acting national chairman of the party, Chief Uche Secondus, told PDP Kogi State Assembly members that the status quo should remain, pending the resolution of the court cases.
Secondus, was said to have noted that since PDP is in the majority with fourteen lawmakers, he saw no reason why they should allow APC with seven members to take over the leadership of the House of Assembly. He therefore directed that Honourable Momoh Jimoh Lawal should remain as speaker, Ali Aku, deputy speaker; Prince Kolawole Olusola, majority leader and Friday Makama as chief whip of the House.
PDP thus advised its members in the Assembly to cooperate with the leadership in unity and understanding, stressing that the party should be a symbol of unity. After the resolution, the embattled speaker and factional speaker, Godwin Osuyi embraced each other.
However, when contacted, the speaker denied ever collecting money from the governor for himself or for his members, stressing that his decision was to support and prepare ahead of the announcement of a new deputy governor and to allow others to contribute their quota to the development of the state.
Reacting on the bribe allegation, Yahaya Bello said he was not interfering in the affairs of the Kogi State House of Assembly.
In a press statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. Fanwo Kingsley Olorunfemi; Bello reiterated that he was not meddling in the leadership affairs of the Assembly. The statement frowned at some reports that stepped up the misinformation with allegations of financial inducements. “As a responsible governor who understands the tenets of separation of powers, Alhaji Yahaya Bello understands his role as Executive Governor, which does not include managing the internal affairs of the House of Assembly,” the statement added. It said the governor will continue to relate with the House of Assembly as an independent body.
The Governor disclosed that the meeting he had with some members of the House of Assembly was aimed at familiarizing himself with the leadership and not an attempt to control the House, as the Assembly has internal operational mechanism.
Further, the governor therefore urged Kogites to discountenance negative reports as the handiwork of his detractors who are out to distract him from delivering democracy dividends to the people. He assured Kogi people of running a government where transparency and probity are the hallmarks.
It would be recalled that Kogi House of Assembly could not seat a week earlier as a result of the crisis. Jimoh Lawal (Kogi Central Senatorial), was expected to relinquish his position as the speaker, since he and Governor Bello hail from the same senatorial district.
It was gathered that while the immediate past Governor, Captain Idris Wada was supporting Honourable Friday Sani, Chief Whip of the PDP for the position, former Governor Ibrahim Idris was disposed to the deputy speaker, Honourable Ali Aku also of PDP.
Wada’s support for Friday Sani may not be unconnected with his loyalty to the governor when he was in government, while Alhaji Ibrahim Idris’ support for Ali Aku was borne out of the fact that Aku was his kinsman who happens to be his personal assistant when he was in office.