Nassarawa – The Plot Thickens

Nassarawa – The Plot Thickens

Wednesday, July 30, 2014 7:42 pm

Ayorinde Oluokun

Peoples Democratic Party lawmakers in Nassarawa State House of Assembly proceed with impeachment hearing against Governor Tanko Al-Makura of Nassarawa State despite fierce opposition from the people

Governor Tanko Al-Makura: days in office numbered

Governor Tanko Al-Makura: days in office numbered

Disappointed by the behavior of his colleagues, Tanko Tunga, representing Awe North constituency in the Nassarawa State House of Assembly, could not but compare them to armed robbers in an interview with journalists minutes after a very brief session of the House ended early last Wednesday:

“Oh, my God! This will not happen in our state. My colleagues are armed robbers, they want to ruin this state and stop the good things the people’s governor has been doing.”

Though it will be correct to label the outburst by the lawmaker emotional, his colleagues, escorted by trucks-load of armed policemen and soldiers, had indeed, like thieves, sneaked into Lafia, the capital of the state from Abuja around 5.30 a.m. and headed straight to the Assembly complex.

Yet, the lawmakers had reasons to be discreet about their arrival into the town, given the protests that their attempt to commence impeachment proceedings against Governor Tanko Al-Makura had generated since they first mooted the idea.

Leading traditional rulers in the state had also intervened, by calling on the lawmakers to sheathe their swords. With such a charged atmosphere, the lawmakers knew they had to conduct their business with dispatch.

Thus, in less than 20 minutes, the lawmakers, all members of Peoples Democratic Party, had sat and passed the motion, which was moved by House Majority Leader, Godiya Akwashiki and seconded by Mohammed Baba Ibaku, asking the Chief Judge, Justice Suleiman Dikko, to constitute a panel to investigate Governor Umaru Tanko Al-Makura.

Musa Mohammed, the Speaker of the House who presided over the sitting, directed the Clerk of the House, Ego Mai-Keffi, to write and inform the Chief Judge of the decision.

The lawmakers immediately fled the town in a waiting bus after the sitting.

But the sitting, though brief, was not without drama. For one, the 20 PDP members, who are in the clear majority in the 24-member House, did not inform their All Progressives Congress, APC, colleagues of the sitting.

It was however gathered that the four opposition members of the House, who belonged to APC as the governor, eventually heard about the sitting and forced themselves into the legislative chamber, but they were denied access into the executive session.

Also, reports indicated that another opposition lawmaker attempted to snatch the mace from the Sergeant-at-Arms as the 20 members were filing out of the Speaker’s office.

In what seemed a determined decimation of the strength of APC, like it played out in Adamawa two weeks ago, PDP lawmakers in Nassarawa State who were on recess, at a hurriedly summoned session on 14 July also decided it was time to make the governor pay for his ‘past sins’ by removing him from office.

The Assembly is dominated by those virtually at loggerheads with the governor since he came into office in 2011.

The governor had resisted what many analysts described as bleeding of the treasury of the state through bogus allowances that were in place before he came into office.

Ahead of the 2015 elections, the Presidency has also targeted Nassarawa as one of the states that must be brought under the umbrella of PDP.

Thus, the Presidency has been encouraging defections of key political figures to the PDP. This was actualised with the defection of Luka Dameshi, the Deputy Governor of Nasarawa State, from APC to PDP some months ago.

Dameshi was elected alongside Al-Makura on the platform of the now-defunct Congress for Progressive Change, one the legacy parties of APC, in the 2007 elections.

Other chieftains of APC, like Markus Gindiri, the governorship candidate of Action Congress of Nigeria in the 2011 elections as well as Senator Solomon Ewuga, who was also elected on the platform of CPC in the 2011 election, were also encouraged to return to PDP. 

Before now, there were speculations that the Presidency was working with the PDP-dominated Nassarawa Assembly to impeach the Governor and install the Deputy Governor.

Both the Presidency and the state Assembly have denied the allegations. But the directive by the Speaker on 14 July directed the Clerk to serve Al-Makura with notice of impeachment for ‘gross misconduct’ may just be a confirmation of the speculation.

Deputy Majority Leader of the House, Yahaya Usman (PDP-Umaisha/Ugya), had during a brief plenary of the House in Lafia on that day, raised an urgent motion in which he presented a document signed by 20 of the 24 members of the Assembly which contained the allegations of gross misconduct against the governor.

The speaker, who officially received the impeachment notice, said the House had complied with the provision of the constitution to serve the governor with impeachment notice and directed the Clerk to immediately serve the notice on Al-Makura on 14 July.

As at the time of writing this story last week, the Clerk was still trying to serve the impeachment notice on Al-Makura.

APC had alleged that the attempt to impeach the governor has all the imprint of the Presidency on it.

Indeed, the party alleged that over N500 million was moved to Lafia, the state capital, to actualise the plot. The National Chairman of APC pointed out that the allegation of extra-budgetary expenditure on which the lawmakers wanted to impeach Al-Makura, is one that has been committed by President Jonathan over and over.

Former Head of State, General Muhammadu Buhari, who is also an APC chieftain, in a statement last Tuesday reiterated the fact that the governor is suffering for his refusal to defect to the ruling party where he could have helped the President actualise his 2015 ambition.

But the PDP said the accusations by the opposition party as attempt to blackmail the legislature. Reacting to the development, Abdluhamid Kwarra, Senior Special Assistant to Governor Al-Makura, last week said that all the steps taken by the lawmakers so far to impeach the governor are null and void.

This, he said, was because the members were yet to serve the governor with the impeachment notice.

But there were speculations last week that the President may intervene to stop the impeachment as he met behind closed-doors with six members of the Nasarawa Assembly, led by the Speaker.

The Deputy National Chairman (South) of the PDP, Uche Secondus, also attended the meeting. But the Speaker merely described his visit to the President as private when he was confronted by journalists on his way out of the presidential villa.

Governor Al-Makura was also said to have met with the President days before then as part of his move to stave off the impeachment. The question is, will the APC lose another state to PDP?

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