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Story behind Taraba Assembly ‘resignations’

By Charles Akpeji, Jalingo
08 December 2019   |   3:23 am
The crisis in the Taraba State House of Assembly, which led to the resignation of the former Speaker, Abel Peter Diah, has no doubt raised concerns about the safety of the tenure between 2019 and 2023 in the state.

(Left) Former Speaker, Abel Peter Diah,

The crisis in the Taraba State House of Assembly, which led to the resignation of the former Speaker, Abel Peter Diah, has no doubt raised concerns about the safety of the tenure between 2019 and 2023 in the state. Also affected are some principal officials of the House, including the member representing Karim-Lamido One constituency, who also doubles as the Deputy Speaker of the House, Charles Maijankai, to tender his letter of resignation. Behind the resignations is the unspoken ‘hammer’ of the Executive arm of government and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)

The move to oust Diah commenced shortly after the impeachment of his deputy, Alhaji Mohammed Danladi Gwampo, who was said to be a close associate of Governor Darius Dickson Ishaku.

Before his impeachment, Gwampo was alleged to be the one revealing the official secrets of the House to the Governor, the situation that made House members watch their backs and what they say during plenaries. The governor was said to have expressed dismay over the removal of Gwampo and vowed to take his pound of flesh, by making sure that Diah is shown the way out. 

Some kingpins of the party, especially those who have concluded plans to seek for the number one seat in the state come 2023 are said to have added fire to the Assembly crisis. There are those who are not comfortable with the popularity of the former Speaker, who is also believed to be eyeing the number one seat.

With Diah’s popularity and influence, stalwarts of the party were said to have become uncomfortable with him, believing that if left unhindered, he could end up becoming governor in 2023; hence the aggressive move to clip his wings. 

In a bid to further frustrate his ambition, which he has not for once made public, top party members, including some who nurse governorship ambition, were said to have gathered together to conceive the plot, which led to Diah’s resignation. 

Governor Ishaku was alleged to have made available some money to members of the state Assembly, who appended their signatures on the impeachment list. The amount, said to belong to the coffer of the State Universal Basic Education, was allegedly meant for members who agreed to turn their backs on Diah by dancing to the tune of the drums from the Governor’s office.

Some persons who identified the incumbent state chairman of the party, Victor Bala Kona, as one of those angling for governorship seats come 2023, alleged that he worked tirelessly to achieve the ousting of Diah.

But denying his involvement in the said plot, which the All Progressives Congress (APC) is fast taking advantage of, Bala Kona, through the party’s spokes person, Alhaji Inuwa Bakari, described the allegation as baseless, stating that  “the chairman was not even in the country when the whole thing took place.”

Bakari argued that both the party and the executive arm “have no power to meddle in the affairs of the House.” He said “it is those who do not wish him well” that is going about smearing the name of the party chairman because both of them are not from the same geopolitical zone.

A chieftain of the party who spoke with our correspondent agreed that the ongoing cold war has a political undertone, stating that “as far as I am concerned, this battle is tinted towards 2023”

The chieftain who expressed sadness that the crisis if not urgently tackled may affect the party comes 2023, expressed the need for the leadership of the party at the national level to as a matter of urgency wade in “to save our party from sinking.”

Also not comfortable with the allegation of his involvement, the governor, through his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Bala Dan Abu, said the allegations are false and should not be taken seriously.

According to him: “It is yet another wicked and malicious attempt to cause confusion and conflict in the relationship between the executive and legislative arms of government in Taraba State on the one hand; and Governor Ishaku and Peter Diah, his political god son, on the other,” stressing that “both men have had several years of fruitful personal and official relationships nurtured by mutual trust, cooperation, and collaboration.”

Governor Ishaku said: “will never sponsor and did not sponsor the so-called impeachment move,   if indeed there was any such move by the Honourable members, let alone fund it with such a staggering amount of money from the public purse..”

The allegations, he said, “are ridiculous, absolutely false and malicious,” stating that the Governor wants the general public to ignore these lies. Governor Ishaku is an apostle of peace and will not do anything that will rock the existing level of trust and understanding between him and members of the state House of Assembly,” he said.

The leadership of the APC, which is now cashing on the crisis has viewed the development as a “great blessing” to the party at both the state and the national levels.

The state chairman of the party Barrister Ibrahim Tukur El-Sudi, stated in a telephone interview that “the development was long overdue,” adding that “the Governor is confused.”

Claiming not to be aware of the exact amount used in dividing the Assembly members, he said; “it is an advantage to our party because some disgruntled elements will no longer be comfortable and be left with no option than to decamp.”

But in a swift reaction, the PDP spokesman denied that the unrest would limit the chances of the party, stating, “at the end of the day we are going to come out more strong.”

Though the newly elected Speaker, Joseph Albasu Kunini claimed “there is no division in the House, the legislative activities in the House indicate that the center can no longer hold as some of the experienced members were visibly absent from recent deliberations.

Diah, who gave no reason for his resignation, has however congratulated the new leadership of the House on their election and inauguration.
In the congratulatory message, which was signed by his Chief of Staff, Philip Mulip, Diah who expressed his profound appreciation to Governor Ishaku “for the good working relations they had while he served as Speaker of the House of Assembly” and also to the members of the Taraba House of Assembly whom he said “resolutely stood by me during my trying period and to Tarabans in general for their massive show of love and support via the many phone calls and text messages” vowed to remain “committed to the peaceful coexistence of Taraba State.” He added that by “my resignation, I have accordingly placed the interest of Taraba State above anything else.”