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Speaker’s Impeachment And Scramble For Jigawa Assembly

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MUH’D ZANGINA KURA captures the intrigues that led to the impeachment of the Speaker of the Jigawa State House of Assembly last Thursday

The impeachment of the Speaker of Jigawa State House of Assembly, Hon Isa Idris, Thursday, unveiled the simmering scramble for the leadership of the Assembly ahead of its inauguration.

The Speaker was impeached in an emergency seating with 20 out of 30 lawmakers present. The House, after the impeachment unanimously voted Hon Idris Garba as the newly elected speaker of the House. Garba was returning after being impeachment as Speaker in 2017 paving the way for Idris to be speaker.

Insinuations of a change in the Assembly leadership emerged shortly after the general election in Jigawa State. Although, the All Progressives Congress (APC) won all the 30 seats of the State Assembly the insinuation of the possible leadership change was due to the emergence of new political interests from within and outside the chamber. And with the elections over, the battle was set to commence.

Back in 2015, the tussle for the Assembly speakership which the ruling party in the state All Progressives Congress (APC) zoned to Jigawa Central senatorial district had been between Idris and Garba.

While the APC cleared majority of the seats in the Assembly at the time. As such the APC leadership decided to allot positions based on the three legacy parties that formed the party in the state, namely: ACN under the leadership of Governor Muhammad Badaru, CPC under the leadership of Hon Faruku Adamu Aliyu and ANPP led by present deputy governor Barrister Ibrahim  Hadejia.

In 2015 Governor Badaru from ACN won the party gubernatorial ticket and picked Barrister Ibrahim Hassan from ANPP as his running mate. APC allocated the speakership to the CPC group, this led to the emergence of Hon Idris Garba as the Assembly speaker being a close political associate of CPC leader Hon Faruk Adamu Aliyu.

But Garba was impeached from his seat in 2017 while the state governor was away from the state and replaced by Idris against the interest of the executive and the party.

Sources in the legislature said some lawmakers orchestrated  the impeachment of the speaker as a mark of asserting their independence the chambers, even though they claimed it was in accordance with the principle of separation of powers as enshrined under democratic system. The move however altered political arrangements in the state.

It was learnt that the action of the Assembly was not in accordance with the will of the executive and the party leadership. But they choose to remain silent to avoid crisis and other political disharmony as the general elections were around the corner.

But the re-election of Governor Muhammad Badaru Abubakar for second term triggered the shakeup in the legislative chamber, it was gathered. Party sources said his interest to maintain the peace and unity of APC vis-a-vis forming an all inclusive government and avoid neglecting any political bloc that formed the party in the state, spurred the shake up in the state legislature.

Badaru is said to support the return of the former speaker to keep faith with the 2015 APC ground arrangement in the state and also to ensure easy passage of bills sent to the House by the executive.

What’s more, it is common culture among Nigerian state governors to create an avenue to have direct or indirect influence in the affairs of their state’s assembly which Jigawa is not excluded.

Before his impeachment as Speaker,  Idris was said to enjoy the support of some key principle officers in the Assembly particularly those who masterminded the 2017 impeachment saga.

It was gathered that when reports started to emerge over the shakeup in the chamber, lawmakers were skeptical on moves to bring back the former speaker for fear of political vendetta.

Some of the members who accused the former speaker of arrogance and violation of House rules during the impeachment process suspected the attempt to bring back the former speaker as an attempt to interfere and abuse the independence of the House.

Idris and his supporters were said to have launched a vehement campaign and consultation within and outside the Assembly to garner support in what they term “a move to preserve house independence.”

Some forces behind him who spoke under the condition of anonymity before his impeachment said while they are loyal to their party the emergence of the House leadership remains an exclusive right of its members.

The members insisted that, for democracy to prosper, the House leadership must be allowed to emerge by merit and acceptability of the majority. They described any attempt by any force to establish the House leadership by anointing or imposition as abuse of democracy which must be resisted.

A member who spoke on condition of anonymity said “We are independent and we must be allowed to independently form our leadership, to choose people who we trust and have confidence on them.

“We are elected to represent our constituencies, we must be allowed to lay a solid foundation to create enabling environment.”

With this scenario, the battle for the Jigawa State Assembly leadership was fast assuming a new dimension.

On Tuesday last week, signs of a tough battle manifested when the House plunged into a rowdy session over an attempt to amend its standing rules.

The crisis erupted when the then Speaker, Idris, announced the proposal for the amendment of standing rules seeking to ban all former assembly speakers and deputy speakers from contesting the position again in subsequent Assemblies.

The proposed amended rule will also disqualify any principal officer that was suspended or impeached to contest for the position of speaker.

The decision which was vehemently rejected by lawmakers who wanted the former speaker, Garba, to return.

The member representing Yankwashi state constituency, Hon Abdulrahman Alkassim, led the crusade by opposing the proposed amendment which was also supported by a vast majority of the members.

Before long there was heated debate and use of abusive words against one other, leading subsequently to physical attack.

The skirmish led to the destruction of the Assembly mace.

After the intervention of some elderly members, the tension was settled, and the lawmakers entered into an close-door meeting which lasted for three house.

The house letter reconvened sitting and announced the postponement of its sitting to May 9, 2019.

The sitting which was earlier scheduled to hold by 12 noon was brought forward to 9am. Twenty out of the 30 members arrived and without wasting time declared their intention to impeach the then speaker, Idris.

He was impeached at the sitting under the call for matter of urgent public importance which was chaired by Hon Usman Haladu Kanya, member representing Kanya constituency.

Kanya forwarded the motion for the impeachment of the speaker which was seconded by member representing Yanlwash constituency Hon Abdurrahman karkarna.

The 20 members signed the impeachment of Hon Idris as well as the removal of the majority leader and chief whip.

During the sitting member representing Kirikasamma constituency, Hon Aliyu Ahmad Aliyu, proposed Garba being the member representing Jahun constituency, as new speaker which was unanimously adopted via vote. Hon Kais Abdullah was elected as new majority leader and Bala Hamza Gada as the new chief whips.

In his acceptance speech, Garba promised to work hard in uniting the House and ensure enabling environment for completing its remaining three weeks successfully.

When asked on the reason behind the removal of the former speaker, he replied “ it is democracy that took its stance”.

While political analysts, aver that the move by Hon Idris and his camp to amend the house rule to technically disqualify his keen rival Hon Garba from contesting the house leadership was his major undoing, it remains to be seen how well the returnee Speaker will navigate through the tough terrain in the chambers in the next three weeks.

 

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