The Houses of Assembly in Bauchi and Edo states have been embroiled in needless leadership tussle since June when they were inaugurated. In Bauchi, two lawmakers belonging to the All Progressives Congress [APC] are laying claim to the speakership position following the parallel inauguration of the house, seen as proxy war between the APC-dominated assembly and PDP’s Governor Bala Mohammed.
The state PDP threw its weight behind Abubakar Suleiman [APC, Ningi] while former Speaker Shehu Damina [APC, Darazo] got APC and former Governor Mohammed Abubakar’s support. Eleven MPs, eight of them PDP, two from APC and one from NNPP, arrived the House at 7 am on inauguration day and elected Suleiman inside the Assembly chambers, with the House Clerk presiding. The remaining 18 members, all of them APC, who arrived the Assembly later, were taken aback, held their own election outside the Assembly complex and produced Damina as speaker.
In Edo Assembly, the proxy war is between Governor Godwin Obaseki and his predecessor, APC’s National Chairman Adams Oshiomhole. Nine of the 24 MPs elected Frank Okiye as Speaker during the ‘election’ supervised by House Clerk Alhaji Audu Omogbai, at about 9.30pm. Governor Obaseki’s Special Adviser on Media and Strategy Crusoe Osagie however said that the Assembly was inaugurated at 3pm.
In order to address the logjam in the two states, the House of Representatives set up two ad hoc committees. One, headed by Musa Sarkin-Adar [APC, Sokoto] was asked to find out the circumstances that led to the emergence of two speakers in Bauchi. It has since completed its work but is yet to table it before the house. Curiously, a High Court in Bauchi on Monday issued an order restraining the National Assembly from wading into the state assembly leadership crisis.
A separate House committee led by Abdulrazak Namdas, which was sent to Edo, also presented its report, based on which the House of Representatives declared as “null and void” all actions presumed to have been done by the 7th Edo Assembly. The House also directed Inspector General [IGP] Mohammed Adamu and Director General of DSS Yusuf Bichi to shut down the Edo State assembly to avoid alleged intimidation of some members-elect. The House further warned that the “National Assembly would invoke Section 11(4) of the 1999 Constitution and take over the Edo State House of Assembly” if the resolutions were not heeded.
However, Governor Obaseki fired back through the Secretary to Edo State Government Osarodion Ogie, who said, “There is nowhere in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, where the House of Representatives or even the National Assembly is granted the right or power to shut down the House of Assembly. In point of fact, such power is expressly excluded by the Constitution.” Apparently referring to Oshiomhole, the statement added, “Those interested parties who sit in positions of authority in Abuja and are using their offices to influence the House of Representatives should take note that we all ultimately owe a debt of accountability to the good people of Edo State for our actions.”
APC National Publicity Secretary Lanre Issa-Onilu then said under the constitution, the House of Representatives has power to direct the governor to do the right thing. “We would have conveniently dealt with Bauchi because Bauchi is a PDP state and whatever is going on there is not strange because that is what has been in the PDP. We are no longer going to allow it.”
The losers in these fights in Bauchi and Edo are the electorate who are yearning for good laws to facilitate good governance. Because of the crises, governors of both Bauchi and Edo are yet to appoint commissioners or get any legislative measure to be passed. It is also very unlikely if those trying to force their will from outside will succeed. The best solution is to allow members of the two assemblies to choose their leaders in a free and fair manner according to laid down rules and procedures.