July 23, 2019

Bauchi Assembly Crisis : The looming danger


By Henry Onyema

For about four weeks, the Bauchi State House of Assembly went on a forced recess following the emergence of two speakers in the state legislative chambers. While Abubakar Suleiman was elected as speaker by 13 members inside the Assembly complex, his opponent, Kawuwa Damina claims he was elected as speaker by 18 other members outside the legislative chambers. Surprisingly, both contenders belong to the same political party, the All Progressive Congress, APC. While every politician deserves the right to aspire to any position in government, the facts remain that such aspiration must be guided by the law and lay than rules.

 Bauchi Assembly

Insider and keen observer of the politician chess game

As an insider and keen observer of the politician chess game in Bauchi state, I know for a fact that Governor Bala Muhammed after his inauguration issued the proclamation that led to the 9th Assembly election of principal officers. The election that produced Abubakar Suleiman as Speaker was done under the supervision of the Clerk inside the Assembly chambers with the Mace, the symbol of authority of the House, in place. 13 members were physically present and carried out the election.

Few days after the election, some mischievous and disgruntled members held another election outside the Assembly complex and declared Kawuwa Damina as Speaker. Whatever their true intentions were, the fact remains that the courts have since settle the issue in plethora of judgments that legislative processes carried out outside the Assembly chamber without the mace, is a nullity. Suffix to say that this same factional group, were the same people who, with only nine members in attendance, repealed the anti-corruption law of the state, on the eve of its departure. Perhaps, this is another case of the kettle calling the pot black.

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Since the move by Kawuwa’s faction to remove Abubakar Suleiman as Speaker, there has been serious political tension in Bauchi state with fears that an unimaginable crisis may soon engulf the state. Certainly, Nigeria cannot afford another addition to its conflagration of political crisis. The aggrieved Assembly men must carefully weigh the deleterious consequences of their actions. Should violence erupt on account of their unbridled quest to control Governor Bala Muhammed, the first victims will surely be the peace loving people of the state. A new security challenge in Bauchi will, doubtlessly, impose greater burden on President Buhari who presently, is battling the various security challenges all over the country. Given that these legislators can hardly pretend to be oblivious of the dire consequences of their dangerous gamble, it becomes evident that there is little, if any modicum of altruism in this self-serving expedition.

My candid advice for these agitating APC members in Bauchi State House of Assembly, is that this is the time to don the toga of statesmanship, sheath their sword and go into the serious business of lawmaking and providing the much needed oversight functions which, if prudently executed, will not only check executive recklessness but guide the government along the lines of moral rectitude, people-oriented policies and accelerated pace of infrastructure and socio-economic development.

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Principal preoccupation of the legislators

This should be the principal preoccupation of the legislators in Bauchi and not endless conspiracies to truncate the will of the people.
The intervention of Speaker of House of Reps, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila in setting up an investigative committee on the Bauchi Assembly crisis must also be commended. As the committee headed by Hon. Sarki Adar prepares to submit its report after hearing from all parties, Bauchi people hope that the committee will avoid excessive legalism, show pragmatism and adopt a political solution that creates a win-win situation while retaining the Speaker elected in the House with the Clerk in place.

*Henry Onyema is a media practitioner based in Lagos.