Nigeria’s ruling party, APC, has criticised one of the states it governs for conducting an ’embarrassing’ parliamentary election.
The APC condemned the recent inauguration of the state house of assembly in Edo State. It also condemned a similar inauguration in Bauchi State, governed by Nigeria’s largest opposition party, PDP.
The party, in a statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Lanre Issa-Onilu, said it viewed the illegality with shock and dissapointment.
The new Edo assembly was inaugurated on Monday, with nine members electing Frank Okiye as Speaker. The assembly has 24 members-elect.
A similar scenario took place in Bauchi on Thursday morning where 11 out of 31 lawmakers of the 9th Bauchi state house of assembly picked a new speaker.
The lawmakers elected Abubakar Suleiman, the lawmaker representing Ningi Central Constituency (APC), as the Speaker on Thursday.
The two inaugurations were said to be masterminded by the respective state governors.
Mr Issa-Onilu, while condemning the inaugurations, vowed that his party would use all democratic means necessary to ensure the right thing is done.
“As a party that has made a commitment to change, we strongly reject any attempt to take a recourse to brigandage of the past, when democratic practices were defined by the inordinate whims of people in power.
“Democracy must be governed by the rule of law. A situation where 11 lawmakers in the 31-member Bauchi State House of Assembly and nine lawmakers in the 24-member Edo State House of Assembly were secretly ‘inaugurated’ and purportedly ‘elect’ principal officers behind closed doors is a joke and an embarrassment.
“It is an unfortunate reminder of PDP’s queer brand of democracy. Practices like this are unacceptable under APC-led administration.”
He reminded the “actors” of the recent and widely-commended election of presiding officers in the newly-inaugurated 9th National Assembly.
“Our party has set new standards in party politics by upstaging the rule of force, while upholding the rule of law.
“It needs restating that every elected lawmaker has a legitimate right to participate unhindered in the inauguration of the legislative arm in which he belongs.
“The plot to arm-twist the majority in favour of the minority in the legislative arm died with the defeat of the PDP in 2015.
“We therefore call on the Governors of Edo State, Mr Godwin Obaseki and Bauchi State, Bala Mohammed to urgently do the needful by issuing a proper letter of proclamation to allow for the lawful inauguration of the respective state House of Assembly and subsequent election of presiding officers in a transparent manner,” the statement read.
In Edo State, there is a supremacy battle between Governor Obaseki and the National Chairman of APC, Adams Oshiomhole.
Fifteen out of 24 members are ‘loyal” to Mr Oshiomole while the remaining nine are said to be loyal to the state governor.
The earlier scheduled date for the inauguration was June 7, but it could not hold because of the absence of Mr Obaseki.
However, there was a new twist to the drama as the much-anticipated inauguration of the Assembly took place at 10 p.m. on Monday.
The Clerk of the Assembly, Yahaya Omogbai, was said to have ushered the members-elect into the chamber and read out the letter of proclamation transmitted to his office by Governor Obaseki.
At the nocturnal siting of the members-elect, the clerk proclaimed the House and lawmakers elected Frank Okiye (Esan North East Constituency I) as speaker against Mr Oshiomhole’s preferred candidate.
Yekini Idiaye (Akoko-Edo Constituency I) was also elected Deputy Speaker.
Immediately after the inauguration, a motion for adjournment was moved by the speaker and the assembly was adjourned till July 18.
The 24 members-elect, are all members of APC.
In Bauchi State, 11 out of the 31 elected members of the ninth House of Assembly on Thursday, elected Abubakar Suleiman (APC) as the Speaker.
The Bauchi assembly is composed of 22 members-elect on the platform of the APC, the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has eight members-elect while the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) has one lawmaker-elect in the assembly.
The Clerk of the House, Yusuf Gital, presided over the sitting of the House, which began at 7 a.m. with only 11 members-elect in attendance; eight from the PDP, two from the APC and one from the NNPP.
Mr Suleiman, the member representing Ningi Central Constituency (APC), emerged unopposed after he was nominated.
Danlami Kawule representing Zungur/Galambi (PDP) was elected the Deputy Speaker.
The 18 APC members had gone to the House as early as 8 a.m. as against the 10 a.m. official commencement of the sitting only to discover that the PDP members had outsmarted them by getting there as early as 7 a.m.
The PDP members held plenary during which they elected the two principal officers.
The lawmakers, who were obviously aggrieved at the development, grabbed the mace and tried to take it away but were stopped by the sergeants-at-arms and other security operatives present.
Thereafter, the newly-elected ‘Speaker’, adjourned the plenary indefinitely.
Not satisfied with the development, the other 18 lawmakers-elect held a parallel inauguration.
The members-elect who held plenary outside the Assembly complex under the statue of the symbol of a mace, elected a former Speaker of the Assembly, Kawuwa Damina, as speaker and Tukur Ibrahim as deputy respectively.