Bauchi Assembly crisis: Factional speaker, 16 others make U-turn, insist on fresh proclamation

Bala Mohammed, Governor of Bauchi State.
Bala Mohammed, Governor of Bauchi State.

The only solution to the leadership crisis at the Bauchi State House of Assembly is for the state governor, Bala Muhammed, to respect the decision of House of Representatives committee and make a fresh proclamation, former Assembly speaker, Damina Kawuwa, has said.

Mr Kawuwa’s latest stance on the Bauchi Assembly crisis appears to be in contrast to the decision himself and 16 other members had taken five days ago when they bowed to pressure and agreed to be sworn in by the current speaker whose election they earlier opposed.

The Bauchi State House of Assembly was in June thrown into deep leadership crisis following the election of the current speaker by only 11 out of the 31 member-assembly.

Though the speaker, whose election is being contested, is a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), the opposing group have alleged that his loyalty was to the governor of the state, who is of the opposing Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The factional majority, who are obviously being backed by the former governor of the state, Muhammed Abubakar, had to inaugurate Mr Kawuwa as their speaker, thereby plunging the assembly into a chaotic situation.

The Federal House of Representative had to inaugurate a committee to wade into the crisis. The committee visited Bauchi, held a public hearing after which it recommended to the National Assembly that the present leaders of the Bauchi House should be voided and the state governor should issue a fresh proclamation for the re-inauguration of the Assembly.

It could also be recalled that just a day to the submission of the Reps committee report, the speaker and 12 sworn-in members of the Bauchi Assembly had to obtain a court order restraining the Committee from interfering with the status quo until a substantive suit filed before it concerning the matter has been resolved.

Last Friday, the factional speaker, Mr Kawuwa and his 16 colleagues appeared at the chambers of the Bauchi Assembly where they eventually agreed to be sworn in by the speaker at a ceremony attended by the governor, Mr Muhammed.

Meeting the president

Surprisingly, on Wednesday, the former speaker and the 16 newly sworn-in members, appeared at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, together with the former governor, Mr Abubakar, where they met President Muhammadu Buhari, whom they told the crisis was yet unresolved.

Though the president said he would ensure the matter was looked into for peaceful resolution, after the Sallah holidays, the 17 lawmakers told journalists at the presidential villa that the only way out was to conduct fresh elections for the Assembly leadership.

APC leadership’s position

The Assembly said they were spurred by the APC national leadership not to accept the present leadership of the Assembly even though they had indirectly recognised its authority by agreeing to be sworn in by the disputed speaker.

“The purpose of our coming to see Mr President is at the instance of our party,” said Mr Kawuwa.

“So we came to brief him on what is happening at the Bauchi State House of Assembly since the purported inauguration which as you are all aware, two leaderships emerged. Primarily he (the President) was fully briefed directly by us.”

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“As it is now….because, in Arithmetic, there is nothing that will make 11 to be greater than 20; and later that 11 grew to 13. So that is the position.”

On how they intend to resolve this issue, the former speaker said, “Let me clearly state that this is not about any individual. All that we from the APC are asking for is a sane institution, irrespective of who emerges as a leader. All we are saying is that the right thing, based on constitutional provisions should be done – with a proclamation issued, specifying the date, time and venue should be announced. Once that is done, the election should be conducted and whoever emerges as a leader, fine and good.”

National Assembly’s recommendation

“If you are following the event where parallel leadership emerged, our senior colleagues at the National Assembly threw a motion by one representative from Bauchi, which resulted in its adoption and later setting up a committee,” the lawmaker explained further.

“They even visited Bauchi and reported back to the plenary for the House of Representatives. A decision was taken- giving a four-week ultimatum to the state governor, within which to issue a fresh proclamation for the proper inauguration of the state assembly to take place.

“So we have briefed Mr President, being the leader of our party and father of the country and a custodian of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, to seek his advice.”

The legality of the double proclamation

Asked on the position of the constitution regarding proclamation and if it was right to make proclamation two times, the factional speaker said, “I don’t want to go into the details.

“But what actually happened was that on the day the initial proclamation was made, there was a date, which was Thursday, a time of 10 a.m. and a venue of the House of Assembly Chambers. All of us, especially of the APC, were ready in compliance with the invitation.

“We arrived in the chamber at 7:53 a.m. and to our dismay as, at the time of our arrival, 11 out of the 31 members of the assembly members were already there and had conducted an election for the speaker and other principal officers.

“So what we did since the invitation letter was reading 10 a.m., we decided to wait in the chamber. But unfortunately just as we were trying to wait at the chamber, teargas was released, forcing us to leave the chamber. One of us, who is an asthmatic patient, was affected and rushed to the hospital.

“What we did was to comply with the constitutional provisions of waiting for 10 o’clock, which we did. We gave an additional time of one hour to see if the governor and other members would come so we can do the needful but they didn’t, so we conducted our elections. That is how the second parallel leadership emerged.

“Since then, there has been a crisis, after the House of Representatives committee visited, they met with all the critical stakeholders and conducted a public hearing, (from) which they received over twenty submissions from different groups and individuals and their report was submitted back.

“Their resolution was nullifying both our faction and their own and directing the governor to issue (a) fresh proclamation for another inauguration to take place,” Mr Kawuwa concluded.

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