While the residents of Kogi State are still looking forward to feel the impact of the new administration in the state, the state House of Assembly, was last week gripped by political undercurrent aimed at impeaching the Speaker, Hon. Abdullahi Bello and other principal officers.
It was reliably gathered that some politicians in the state had perfected plans to edge out the speaker and others and that their replacements had also been selected at a secret meeting. But the plan was reportedly stymied by the refusal of majority of the lawmakers to play along.
The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) member in the House, Hon. Henry Ojuola, representing Yagba East State Constituency, told a top national newspaper (THISDAY) correspondent that the move was masterminded by some people outside the legislature but that it would not be possible because most members are still comfortable with the speaker’s leadership.
“The speaker, as at today, has the support of majority of members in the assembly and as such, “those canvassing for his removal should desist from their plans.”
He also implored the executive to focus more attention on creating a peaceful co-existence between it and the legislative arm so as to facilitate rapid transformation of the state.
Chairman, House Committee on Information, Hon. Seidu Akawu Salihu, described the move as “ill motivated and unwarranted”. While noting that it was being orchestrated by “some self-serving politicians in the state,” he also said what should be paramount to the state is “how to aggressively pursue development and get the dividends of democracy to the people.” He therefore urged the executive not to pay attention to the self-serving politicians who prefer to make gains during crisis situation.
Though the governor, Mr. Idris Wada, has consistently assured the people that the misunderstandings created by the simultaneous swearing-in of himself and the speaker was a thing of the past, political pundits are of the view that the speaker’s ordeal may have been because of the incident that followed the judgment of the Supreme Court that nullified the tenure extension granted five governors, including that of Kogi.
Such insinuation notwithstanding, Wada in a recent interview with journalists had said there was cordial relationship between the legislative and the executive arms of government in the state.
The speaker was also sure that there was no discontent between the two arms of government. He claimed to have gone the extra mile to reassuring the governor of the preparedness of the legislators to support his administration: “That is the reason for the speedy passage of the 2012 budget and the accelerated attention given to all other requests of the governor by the Assembly.”
The positions of the executive and the legislators as reflected in the utterances of Wada and Bello are, however, far from the reality on ground. There was actually a grand plan to oust the speaker and it was followed up with an alleged financial inducements.
Also confirming the development, Minority Leader of the Assembly, Hon. Yori Afolabi, alleged that it was the executive arm of government that initiated the move.
“It is no longer news. Every member is aware of the move. The plot will fail because the speaker has not committed any offence that warranted his removal, therefore, a majority of us are solidly behind him,” Yori said.
Findings also discovered that the lawmakers were allegedly offered between N2million to N5 million to secure their support, but they rejected it because they were averse to the impeachment move. They were said to have considered it as a slap on the entire legislature and described the plot as an undue interference in the affairs of the House.
But reasons allegedly being brandished by some of the aggrieved lawmakers included the speaker’s resolve to appraise activities of the ministries and agencies in the state as part of oversight function. This was considered confrontational to the executive. There were those who have also expressed disdain for the proposed fund-raiser by the Assembly, to improve facilities at its complex. Those opposed to this also see it as an affront to the executive and that it was capable of painting the executive in bad light, as it concerns its responsibility to the House.
The speaker’s loyalists have also listed factors that are likely responsible for the plot to get rid of him. A source said: “When we considered the issues they are bringing against the speaker and other principal officers, we saw that they have not violated any of the rules of the House. But the governor, sensing that his foot soldiers were not doing much to actualising the speaker’s removal, approached some of the members to assist in pushing him out. He offered them mouth-watering promises.”
Those close to the speaker hold the view that the governor has not forgiven him for having been sworn-in alongside him on the same day. But Bello has said he took the decision on the agreement of majority of members of the Assembly. According to him, 18 out of the 25 members endorsed his acceptance of his swearing-in as acting governor.
THISDAY’s source also confirmed this when he said: “We all agreed that the speaker should obey the directive and when there was intervention from the presidency, we also agreed that he should revert back to his position as speaker, which he did.”
Besides, there is the belief that the governor was also embarrassed by the refusal of the speaker to travel back with him to the state in the same vehicle as suggested by some party leaders after the swearing-in crisis was resolved in Abuja. But the speaker had maintained that he was inclined to report back to the other legislators before fraternizing with the governor so soon.
The other issue in contention is the speaker’s alleged loyalty to the winner of the January 9, governorship primary of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Jibrin Isah (Echocho). Whichever of such possibilities was correct, it has not changed the fact that a lot of resources had gone into moves to impeach Bello.