PDP, APC battle for the soul of Bauchi Assembly
Stakeholders in Bauchi State are still in suspense over who becomes the speaker of the state House of Assembly, as entrenched interests make last-minute moves to gain an advantage, writes ISHOLA MICHAEL.
MOST observers believe Bauchi falls within the ranks of states that will be a focal point in the unfolding political dispensation. It is among the states where the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) succeeded in displacing the hitherto ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) through the ballot.
Another factor many consider would make Bauchi politics more intriguing is the political structure in the state House of Assembly. While the executive is under the control of the PDP, the APC has more members in the state House of Assembly, in what looks like a balance of power, which ordinary ought to foster checks and balance in the administration of the state.
So far, the various interests seem to be at each other’s throat over the configuration in the legislative arm. Last Friday, the battle of wits and mutual suspicion created a rowdy session in the state House of Assembly as members engaged in a verbal war because of perceived derogatory remarks about the outgoing leadership of the eighth Assembly under the APC administration.
Since then, the two interests in the Assembly buoyed by moral backing from the leaders of the two main parties have remained uncompromising in their individual quest to gain a superior position and advantage in the ninth Assembly. Following the sudden postponement of the inauguration of the Assembly slated for last Monday, the state chapter of APC expressed its displeasure over the development, even though the members-elect on its ticket are still not on the same page on who they should put forward as Speaker.
The APC, through its secretary in the state, Bako Hussaini observed that the 1999 Constitution (as amended) did not empower a tate governor to suspend the inauguration of an Assembly after issuing a proclamation to that effect. He further alleged that the removal of the clerk of the Assembly by the governor was to pave the way for him to railroad the Assembly into the choice of a Speaker. He reminded Governor Bala Muhammad that the action was undemocratic, null and void, because APC had a clear majority in the ninth Assembly in the state with 22 members as against the ruling PDP which has eight members. According to the APC, the government is bent on a repeat of what played out in 2015 at the National Assembly to impose the minority over the majority. Therefore, the APC called on security agencies to advise Governor Bala Muhammad to reinstate the Clerk to the Assembly immediately.
However, a source within the party claimed there was a lack of consensus among the members on the aspirant to put forward for the post of speaker. According to the source majority of the APC members-elect are not comfortable with the decision of the party to support the return of the immediate past Speaker of the eighth Assembly, Kawuwa Shehu Damina.
The source claimed that the majority of the members, who secured re-election are clamouring for a change considering what they described as the frosty relationship of the former Speaker with many of them throughout the life of eighth Assembly. They are said to be favourably disposed to Bauchi Central Senatorial zone still producing speaker but from a different Emirate since Damina hails from Darazo Local Government Area, the same Bauchi Emirate where the governor, Secretary to the State Government (SSG) and the Chief of Staff to the governor come from.
“In the interest of balance, equity and fairness, the area should not produce the speaker of the ninth Assembly. There is the need to ensure a sense of belonging and promote peace. ” the source stressed.
But there are speculations that the immediate past governor of the state, Mohammed Abdullah Abubakar met with the members-elect somewhere in Kano to rally support for Damina. But a number of them were said to be against his disposition.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the state chapter of PDP, Hamza Koshe Akuyam, has debunked claim by the APC that the governor had an agenda to manipulate the choice of speaker. He said the postponement of the inauguration of the Assembly was at instance of the Clerk of the House through a letter. According to him, the Clerk had requested that the inauguration be postponed because of logistics issues.
“The Clerk had requested for that because the previous government was supposed to have made these arrangements for the new Speaker and other officers that will emerge, but it didn’t. So, the extension was to give the government enough time to make all necessary logistical arrangements,” he stated.
While noting that APC was in the majority in the Assembly, he wondered how the PDP which had just eight members-elect, would manipulate to win against the 22 APC members-elect. On the removal of the Clerk of the House, the PDP Chairman said that there was no ulterior motive behind it, as “it is just part of the Civil Service procedure, so nobody should read any ulterior motive to it.”He added that the Clerk was a civil servant, who could be moved at any time in line with civil service rules.
Meanwhile, as the race for the position of speaker of the ninth Assembly gathers steam, one of the leading contenders, Abubakar Suleiman, has declared that he remained resolute in his ambition.
The drama and suspense over the choice of a new leadership by the Assembly may come to an end today, June 20, 2019, even as APC members-elect are still fighting amongst themselves for the post of speakership, while there are indications PDP may clinch the position of the deputy speaker based on an alliance the party has forged with some forces.