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APC, PDP equal membership in Nasarawa Assembly raises question over majority leadership

The recent sack of the former Speaker of the Nasarawa State House of Assembly, Balarabe Abdullahi and the declaration of another constituency’s election results as…

The recent sack of the former Speaker of the Nasarawa State House of Assembly, Balarabe Abdullahi and the declaration of another constituency’s election results as inconclusive has placed the state assembly in an unfamiliar position with both the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the main opposition, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) now having an equal number of members.

Recall that the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja last month nullified the election of Abdullahi, and declared the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Sa’ad Abdullahi Ibrahim, as the rightful winner of the election for Umaisha/Ugya State Constituency.

With the nullification of the election that produced another APC member representing Keana constituency earlier for a rerun, the ruling party’s majority status is now threatened, as it placed it at par with the main opposition PDP at the Assembly.

The ruling party’s situation became dicier with the presence of four members elected on the platform of two other political parties in the Assembly. The Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) each has two lawmakers.

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Following the sack of Abdullahi, his deputy stepped in as the acting Speaker. However, in what analysts believed to be a deft move to foreclose a possible alignment that could deny the APC the leadership of the Assembly, which it has held for many years, the ruling party moved swiftly by lobbying other opposition lawmakers to produce Danladi Jato, representing Kokona West constituency as the new speaker. 

With the tacit support of the sitting governor, Engr Abdullahi Sule, the emergence of Jatau was smooth, without the rancour that nearly derailed the processes that produced the ex-speaker, Abdullahi.

The fact that Jatau is from the same local government area as the former factional speaker, Daniel Ogazi, greatly helped his candidature. 

Ogazi (APC, Kokona East), it could recall, contested against the sacked speaker and nearly frustrated the latter’s emergence until stakeholders intervened. This time around, however, Ogazi raised no eyebrow against the choice of his kinsman, Jato, but rather aligned with the process that produced him.

In what was believed to be a balance of power, the PDP was made to produce the deputy speaker with Muhammad Adamu Oyanki representing Doma South, emerging.

However, the debate over the majority status in the 7th Assembly has been raging both within and outside the legislative chamber.

Speaking on the development, Barrister Affis Adigun explained that, “There are two options; PDP, SDP and NNPP can come together and form an alliance. If it works, it means that PDP having 9, SDP 2, and NNPP 2 members will make up 13 members against APC’s 9. 

“Even if APC wins the one that is in contention at Keana, it will be 10 against 13. So the first option is that among the PDP, SDP and NNPP, they can decide to lead with ease and without stress. Having a simple majority in the house they will actually elect their speaker, deputy speaker, and majority leader from among other principal officers.

“But as it is now, they are not working as one. There is no alliance among the three and what APC did also was that they picked a member of SDP as one of the principal officers of the house in the person of, Ibrahim Abubakar Musa from Doma,” he stated.

Speaking on the implication for good governance and development of democracy in the state, Ayiwulu Baba Ayiwulu, another lawyer and good governance activist in the state, said the new leadership of the 7th assembly is an innovation, adding that a new thing is happening at the House.

According to him, the new leadership doesn’t affect the working of the system to some extent, especially as about three or four house members lost their positions. The House members actually occupy positions in the committee so the changes are important.

A former speaker of the state assembly, Dr Ahmed Musa, told Daily Trust that the leadership of the legislature has no peculiarity if there is an understanding between the powers that be, the executive and legislature, adding that what the state is after is delivering dividend of democracy to the people of the state.

Speaking on the challenges before the new leadership of the state assembly, the state chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Francis Orogo, said what is expected from the lawmakers, regardless of the challenge over the majority status, was for them to deliver good performance, and cautioned them against being errand boys.

 

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