‘My emergence as speaker compensates Ningi Emirate’
•Whether 11 or 13 my election is legal, says Abubakar Suleiman
Honourable Abubakar Suleiman is a new member who emerged Speaker of Bauchi State House of Assembly, elected by 13 out of 31 members. In this interview with RAUF OYEWOLE, the former Assistant Chief Administrative officer in Bauchi State Government, talks about intrigues that preceded his election.
As a fresher and Speaker, what is your plan to improve legislation in the ninth Bauchi State Assembly?
Bauchi State people should expect legislators that are ready to work. I believe that the members already inaugurated and the members-elect have one thing in common and that is progress of the state. Whenever we are in the legislative chamber, we put aside our partisan differences and deliberate on the development of Bauchi State. So, our people should expect four years of better legislation.
It was alleged that the Eighth Assembly for not properly scrutinising expenditures of last administration, how can you correct that anomaly?
We are ready to change the situation. The Ninth Bauchi State Assembly would not allow itself to be ridiculed as its predecessor did. Though I wasn’t a member of the eighth Assembly, from the information we were getting from various media organisations they were just as people alleged, behaving as if they were ‘rubber stamp’. I’m not saying that they were rubber stamp.
In this dispensation, such a thing won’t happen, because we are there to checkmate executive arm of government and to make sure that anything it brings to us has to do with the development of our state. We are ready to work collaboratively with executive arm to ensure the development to our dear state.
As one of the new members, why do you think other members, especially members of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), voted for you?
Simply, my zeal to work, that is zeal to work towards achieving a new Bauchi State and to make sure our people enjoy the dividend of democracy, which I believe under this dispensation, Bauchi people would benefit immensely.Then coming to my election as Speaker by our PDP colleagues, I think it has to do with their belief that I can deliver, compared to others aspirants in the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Many of the APC lawmakers were carried away by their loyalty to the party, last time I was in Kano, where they summoned us for a meeting, the then APC leader in the state, former governor (Mohammad Abubakar), after the meeting announced that Kawuwa and Tukur were the party’s choice for speaker and deputy speaker positions respectively.
Nobody in that meeting objected to that position, all of them agreed with the decision of the former governor. Well, I believe my lone objection would not change anything there, so I played along. Surprisingly, after the Kano meeting, before I arrived Bauchi the news making the rounds was that I have stepped down for Kawuwa as speaker. People started calling me to register their displeasure and protest over what they heard.
My political associates and friends were inundating me with calls asking about what happened in Kano. They said they were not in support of what they heard. In fact, there were threats on my life and my family, because on my arrival in Bauchi, my supporters stormed my house in over 20 buses. They were angry over the decision reached in Kano.
They said the only thing I can do not to let them down was to continue in the race of the speakership. With this I had no objection than to step up.Let us get this clear, many figures were flying about in the media that 11 members elected you, others say it was 13…
It was 13 members that elected me. In the process of election it was observed that two other members were coming in and they were allowed to complete the process. Some people are saying 13, even if it was 11 as reported, it is still legal, 11 is the quorum for 31 and again I don’t see a big deal in that, even though we were 13.
But Damina and his loyalists accused you of defying the 10 a.m scheduled for the inauguration by going to the House as early as 7:00am to conduct the election, what is your take on that?
The election did not start at 7:00am it started around 8am. The clerk has explained that, before the main election there were processes-documentation, roll call and as so on. All these started around 8:00am while the main election commenced around 9:00am. They also, alleged that they were tear-gassed, seriously I didn’t have knowledge of that, the only thing I saw was online where two of them were using handkerchief to clean their faces, but honestly I don’t know. We were all in the house till the moment I was escorted out of the chamber. There was nothing like teargas.
After the whole drama, what is your relationship with APC, having defied the Kano pact?
Our relationship is intact just that they leveled allegations against me that I’m a sell out, this and that. All I know is that what I did was in order and as far as I’m concerned I’m still a member of the party. My relationship is intact.However, for now there is no communication between us as they are expressing their dismay. I wrote a letter to explain the circumstances that led to my emergence as the speaker of Bauchi State House Assembly, while asking for their forgiveness if I have erred.
But at the end of the day, do you have plans of defecting to PDP for supporting your emergence?
Why? APC is the majority party in the house, why should I move from majority to minority party? I have no intention of joining PDP. May be because you see me at the Government House the day of inauguration to pay homage to the governor, that is a tradition after a new speaker is sworn in and he adjourns the house he goes straight to the governor, check the history.
The Bauchi State Assembly began with rancour and disagreement, how do you intend to manage future crises?
The management has started, we have started reaching out to other 18 aggrieved members and we are getting positive signals out of it. Presently, we have 14 members in our camp and soon we would get about 16 or 17 members. It is political issue that must be managed and we are still on the peace move on why they should accept the reality and why those members elected me a speaker. Some of them have been convinced and have started changing camp to ours.
Very soon we would have to up to 17 members. Like I have said, our target is a developed Bauchi State, the governor (Bala Muhammed) has an ambitious plan to develop this state. We must do everything to support him, but that does not mean we will be a ‘rubber stamp’ legislature. If the wants to do anything we think is wrong we won’t support it.
Why did you adjourn indefinitely after your emergence as speaker?
It was done to manage the crisis. During this recess we will have time to meet the aggrieved members. The recess is very common, even the National Assembly does that too. This will enable us to reach out to every one who is not happy.
Your party, APC, accused Governor Bala of shifting the election scheduled for Monday 17 to Thursday June 20, so as to perfect the plan to impose a candidate, do you think so?
I don’t know. I’m not in a position to answer that. All I know is that we were all preparing for inauguration of the Ninth Assembly on June 17 before someone told me that the inauguration has been postponed, I was surprised. I don’t know why the inauguration day was rescheduled or may be the clerk of the House would be in the better position to explain why.
It was also alleged that you insistence on speakership was to balance power sharing among the emirates in the state?
Yes, that is one of the arguments I presented. We are in a democracy and that must be done with justice and fairness. Since 1999, Bauchi Central has been the one holding the position of secretary to the state government or speaker or both. And by emirates, in Bauchi Central we have part of Bauchi Emirate; there is Ningi and Misau Emirates too. These two emirates (Bauchi and Misau) have enjoyed the positions of speaker and SSG, while Ningi Emirate has never enjoyed it not until now.
During the last campaign, I asked our people to vote for former governor Abubakar and me in the belief that we might get the position of speaker. At the end of the day, you find that the positions of governor, the SSG, deputy speaker, chief of staff were zoned to Bauchi Emirate and that is why people insisted that I must not step down for any body.
To my surprise, during the Kano meeting the former governor Abubakar zoned the position of speaker and deputy to Bauchi Emirate again. So, if not that I stood by my position to continue with race we would have ended up with nothing.
Presently, what is your relationship with Hon. Kawuwa Damina?
Normal! Even after all these we still have normal relationship. I’m ready to make peace with him. Just like I have said earlier, we have started reaching out to some of them to come and let peace reign and forget our differences and make Bauchi State our priority.
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