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Coup against Bauchi State ANPP

By John Moyibi Amoda
EVENTS in Bauchi State are showing the difference between party selection of officeholders and election of the same.  What was played out at the Federal level in the 2007 presidential election is now logically on display in Bauchi.  What are the facts?

In the April Elections of 2007, Isa Yaguda and Mohammed Gadi were elected Governor and Deputy Governor on the platform of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP).  The ANPP also won 21 seats.

The crossing of the carpet by Governor Isa Yaguda with 17 ANPP legislators have given the PDP a majority of 26 votes where before the defection of the Governor it had only nine seats.

This fact raises the question of relationship between the electorate and the State House of Assembly.  The electorate in the April 2007 election gave the ANPP a majority of 21 out of the total of 31.

It is to be assumed that the ANPP electorate desired to constitute the State House of Assembly so that through its legislations the needs of the ANPP will be addressed.  With the defection of the Governor and the 17 legislators, an ANPP electorate has its votes for the Executive and Legislative arms effectively nullified.  What occurred in Bauchi qualifies to be termed a civilian coup against the ANPP electorate.

What are the constitutional remedies open to the ANPP to regain its mandate given to its governor and its legislators?  This, however, is not the question being addressed by the Governor,  “coupist” PDP House of Assembly, and Femi Falana representing the Deputy Governor.

The Governor went to war and effected the impeachment of his Deputy Governor after securing the support of  26 out of 31 members of the House.

According to TELL: “When the idea of impeaching the Deputy Governor was first mooted by Governor Yaguda to some of the legislators, they had argued that there was no offence to nail him but he (the Governor) reportedly promised to get back to them with enough charges to hasten the process” (Tell, July 13, 2009, p29).

TELL reports the reason given by Babayo Gamawa speaking for those who decamped en masse from ANPP to PDP.  According to Gamawa: “It was the unanimous decision of the lawmakers to join the PDP to support the development initiative of the Governor”.

He added that it would not be healthy for a state governor and members of the legislature to belong to different parties, saying: “It has never happened in the history of Nigeria and we will not allow it to happen in our time”.

Gamawa apparently forgot a similar scenario at the national level when Atiku Abubakar, former Vice-President defected to the rival AC to contest against Umaru Yar’Adua, candidate of the PDP on the platform of which he has been elected into office along with then President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Ironically, the AC, then a beneficiary of Abubakar’s defiance, has joined the campaign to condemn Yaguda’s action and that of the defecting legislators to change parties without first resigning from office” .

Yet the Bauchi situation is markedly different from the power play between Atiku and Obasanjo; the President was determined to deny his Vice President the PDP platform for contesting for the party nomination.  The issue raised in the Atiku case was whether he could still remain in office having been forced out of the party by the President.

The constitutional problem that Obasanjo’s exploits raised remained one of determining if and when a Vice President expelled from the party that elected him alongside the President can remain in office outside of the party.

The Bauchi situation is, however, one of a coup against an ANPP electorate who won the election for the office of the Executive Governor and that had the majority of the legislators in the State House.  The question raised by the defection is one of the relevance of election as expression of the choice of voters.

The 1999 Constitution is a constitution of representative government.  Elections define the elected as agents of the electors.  Chapter 2 captioned the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy defines Nigerian Government as an elected representative government.  Sections 13 and 14 define Nigeria as a constitutional electoral republican society.

“It shall be the duty and responsibility of all organs of government, and of all authorities and persons, exercising legislative, executive or judicial powers, to conform to, observe and apply the provisions of this Chapter of this Constitution”.

14(1)  The Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be a state based on the principles of democracy and social justice.
(2)  It is hereby, accordingly, declared that –

(a)  sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from whom government through this Constitution derives all its power and authority”.


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