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Ata’s impeachment and Kano’s changing political paradigm

By Murtala Adewale, Kano
05 August 2018   |   1:49 am
Ordinarily, the impeachment of Yusuf Abdullahi Ata, as speaker of the Kano State House of Assembly (KSHA) should not come as a surprise, considering the fact that the APC-dominated assembly was gradually being torn apart by internal squabbles.

Alhaji Abdullahi Umar Ganduje

Ordinarily, the impeachment of Yusuf Abdullahi Ata, as speaker of the Kano State House of Assembly (KSHA) should not come as a surprise, considering the fact that the APC-dominated assembly was gradually being torn apart by internal squabbles.

But what is generating immense interest is the political tension that the impeachment has generated in the state, especially in this season of defection and counter cross-carpeting.Earlier on, specifically in May this year, Ata survived an impeachment plot, in which 23 members of the House moved for his removal. This was shortly before the Assembly embarked on a three-month recess.

Among other things, the impeached speaker was accused of financial impropriety, gross incompetence and inability to carry along other principal officers.But that initial plot to remove Ata failed due to the inability of the aggrieved members to get the consent of a simple majority, in addition to a security cordon at the assembly complex, which prevented the 23 members from gaining access into it. 

Thereafter, it took the intervention of Governor Ganduje, who prevailed on the lawmakers to bury the hatchets before the tension generated eventually settled down. That, however, was not possible until the aggrieved members negotiated and succeeded in sharing principal offices equally.Based on the new sharing formula, the six plum offices in the house were shared between Atta and the opposition’s camp, with the leader of the aggrieved members and former speaker, Kabiru Alhassan Rurum being made deputy speaker.

Rurum was forced to resign by Ata’s camp following a N100m bribery allegation, which he (Rurum) allegedly received to water down the Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi’s removal plot.However, upon resumption of plenary on Monday July 31, 2018, after the three-month recession, the narrative suddenly changed and Ata’s impeachment plan was hatched.

The motion for his impeachment was raised by Labaran Madari, member representing Warawa State Constituency and seconded by Abdullahi Muhammed, the only Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) member in the Assembly.  Soon after that, the House unanimously moved for the return of Rurum as the new Speaker.One of the key figures in Rurum’s re-emergence, and member representing Kano Municipal, Baffa Baba Danagundi, told The Guardian that members of the house were not pleased with the way and manner Ata was piloting the affairs of the house. 

Danagundi, who is now the leader of the assembly, also accused the former speaker of eyeing the deputy governor’s seat.It was gathered that before Ata emergence as Speaker, members of the house usually enjoyed about N50m constituency projects from state government. The members were deeply angered when Ata remained docile and refused to fight for its return after the government blocked that opening for inexplicable reasons.

Although Danagundi declined to make comments on the issue, he however, accused the former Speaker of creating needless tussle between Governor Abdullahi Ganduje, and his deputy Prof. Hafizu Abubakar, for selfish reasons.According to him “We are aware that Ata is seriously looking forward to occupying the seat of the deputy governor. Ever since he started nursing that ambition, he has abandoned his primary responsibility. 

“The plenary no longer holds as expected, and our demands from government have been crippled. We are now seen as a rubber stamp assembly, and that tag we will not accept,” he stated.For most watchers of the unfolding scenario, Ata’s impeachment has the capacity to alter existing political calculations and permutations in the state, even though the impeached Speaker still remains devastated that his gradual walk to the office of the deputy governor was becoming farther from him reach.

Ata’s unholy romance with Ganduje few months ago, The Guardian reliably gathered, got plenty tongues wagging especially as many thought that he was succeeding in his plot to emerge as the number two man. In fact, an unconfirmed account has it that Ganduje once made public his intention to replace his deputy with the former speaker. This explains why many are taking with a pinch of salt, Ganduje’s claims of innocence in the circumstances that led to Ata’s impeachment.

The governor, who distanced himself from Ata’s impeachment, however, considered the development an unavoidable ingredient of internal democracy.Speaking while receiving the new leadership of the assembly, which paid him a courtesy visit, Ganduje said, “I was not aware of what was going on at the state assembly until a top member of our great party hinted me recently that the Speaker of the house has been impeached. Of cause, we know there has been, and they would be different interpretations to what has happened, but one thing is certain, that is, we in Kano believe in internal democracy. I will only urge you to embrace all those who have lost their seats and ensure that there are no factions within the assembly.” 

As matters stand, Ata may have lost confidence and trust in Governor Ganduje’s ability to match his words with action. Consequently, this might force him to join the defection train into the opposition party.Already, six members of the house who are ardent disciples of Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, have indicated interest to leave the ruling APC to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

In addition to this, Ata and the remaining 13 out of the 40 who refused to sign his impeachment notice may be influenced to join the PDP.Ata’s removal may have signaled the return of independence to Kano Assembly, which has in recent times been branded a rubber stamp assembly. Having defied the intervention by the governor this time around, the implication is that the lawmakers could muster enough numbers to challenge the governor going forward, even though the new Speaker has pledged 100 per cent loyalty to Ganduje. 

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