Two-in-one speakers for Bauchi State Assembly
• Dissenters raise parallel legislature
The confusion in Bauchi State House of Assembly when 11 out of 31 member-legislature elected Abubakar Sulaiman, representing Ningi Central constituency as Speaker and Danlami Dawule, representing Zungu/Galambi as Deputy Speaker, was not anticipated.
Not long after the clerk swore Sulaiman and Dawule into office as Speaker and Deputy respectively for the ninth Assembly, Yusuf Vital, than other 18 members-elect loyal to immediate past Speaker, Kawuwa Damina (Darazo constituency), who was seeking reelection, conducted a parallel election.
Expectedly, both Damina and Tukuru Ibrahim (Toro Constituency) were elected as Speaker and Deputy respectively, for a parallel legislature, which held its inaugural session outside the legislative building, using the symbolic sculptured mace to put their ‘leader’ in place.
The genesis of the attempt to create a parallel legislature could be traced to the stiff election waged between the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP), which returned 22, eight and one members-elect for APC, PDP and New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) in that order.
Checks by The Guardian show that the 11 members that elected Sulaiman and Dawule, comprised PDP lawmakers, two and one others from APC and NNPP, who had arrived the House has early as few minutes to 7:am and elected Abubakar Sulaiman of APC and Dawule of PDP unopposed before their other colleagues arrived.
Stunned by the surprise emergence of the speaker and his deputy, one of the 18 aggrieved late-comers shouted at Sulaiman, “leave that seat now,” just as another lifted the mace, shouting, “take the mace, take it” before the security men recovered the mace as the chamber turned rowdy.
It would be recalled that the inauguration of the Assembly was initially slated for Monday before it was rescheduled. The protesting lawmakers, led by Damina, addressed journalists shortly, stressing that the inaugural sitting was scheduled for 10a.m. on Thursday, even as he bemoaned the steps taken by their colleagues to elect Sulaiman as the speaker “few minutes to 8:am.”
Before the new speaker, Sulaiman, adjourned proceedings indefinitely amid heavy security cordon at the entrance of the Assembly Thursday to avert any breakdown of law and order, The Guardian gathered that the Damina parallel camp owe allegiance to the immediate past governor, Alhaji Mohammad Abubakar.
It was also gathered that their action was endorsed by APC leaders, just as it was also disclosed that party leaders had met with some members and persuaded Sulaiman to drop his ambition of contesting to which he allegedly agreed, but later reneged and surprisingly work in cahoots with PDP members to become speaker.
It would also be recalled that few days to the expiration former governor Abubakar’s tenure, he allegedly requested the House to repeal a law on State Asset/Fund Recovery Act, ostensibly to make it impossible for his successor to probe and prosecute him and other government officials for grant or conversion of government property.
The repeal process was undertaken within 30 minutes on the Assembly floor as the bill quickly passed first, second and readings under the watch of Damina, as speaker of the 8th Assembly, alongside other 12 members.
Reacting to the development, state secretary of APC, Mr. Bako Hussaini, in a statement alleged that the State Government is “employing tactics to create situation similar to what played out in 2015 at the National Assembly to install minority over majority.”
While contending that the Nigeria constitution did not empower a state governor to suspend the inauguration of a legislature, Hussaini condemned the alleged removal of the Clerk of Bauchi House of Assembly few days to the inauguration, saying it was “in order to perfect their nefarious plan.”
The statement read: “APC has a clear majority in the 9th Assembly with 22 members as against the ruling PDP with eight members. Leadership of APC in the state will not fold its arms and allow the ruling party to do anything contrary to the constitution of Nigeria. We therefore call on the governor to remove his hands from the business of the legislature.”
However, the state chairman of PDP, Alhaji Hamza Akuyam, waved-off “the lamentations of the opposition,” saying his party was not interested in imposing leaders on the state Assembly, but committed to ensuring respect for democratic processes.
Akuyam stated: “We are not interested in who becomes what, we allow the members to elect their leaders. This is a democratic dispensation and we respect democratic process. We don’t have hand in it. “On the day of inauguration, it is a tradition to provide vehicles for those who are to be inaugurated to the venue, but these buses were not provided and the inauguration was postponed just for two days, why are they lamenting.”
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