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LG chairmen, councillors decry removal plot as Kaduna Assembly trims tenure

There is growing anxiety among the elected chairmen of the 23 local government areas of Kaduna State and their 255 councillors following a purported plan…

There is growing anxiety among the elected chairmen of the 23 local government areas of Kaduna State and their 255 councillors following a purported plan by the state government and the state assembly to cut short their tenure.

Although there was no official statement to that effect, there was growing concern among the elected officials after the state assembly reportedly passed for third reading an amendment bill to the Local Government Law, 2018, which stipulated that elected chairmen and councillors are to serve a three-year tenure in office.

Daily Trust learnt that the proposed amended law by the state assembly reduced the tenure to two years for elected chairmen and councillors in the state.

Similarly, the proposed amended law also stipulated that the governor has the power, four months before the expiration of the two-year tenure of elected council chairmen, to dissolve the council.

This new change in the amended law has been generating concern among the serving chairmen and councillors, with many of them nursing the fear that the amendment was targeted at terminating their tenure before the expiration date in November 2024.

Daily Trust gathered from reliable sources that the issue was the subject of a recent stakeholders’ meeting held in Kaduna last week involving the state governor, the leadership of the state assembly, the elected chairmen of the 23 LGAs, their councillors, as well as other party leaders.

It was gathered that proponents of truncation of the tenure of the chairmen and councillors had mooted the idea of distributing an already prepared termination letter to the council chairmen and councillors.

This, it was gathered, is an offshoot of the cold war between the incumbent governor, Uba Sani, and his predecessor, Nasir El-Rufai. Those familiar with the development told this paper that the aim was for the current governor to consolidate on his strength by installing his loyalists as caretaker chairmen before another election could be conducted.

However, it was gathered that with the threat of legal actions from LGAs controlled by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and backlash within the ruling party, the governor backtracked and held another meeting with the 23 council chairmen.

At this meeting, it was gathered that the governor reiterated his pro-democracy principles, promising not to do anything to truncate democratic principles in the state.

Such a move is unconstitutional and unacceptable – PDP

But reacting, the PDP described the alleged move by the state government as unacceptable and unconstitutional.

The party insisted that the serving chairmen and councillors have a three-year tenure to serve and therefore should be allowed to complete their uninterrupted tenure.

The state PDP Secretary, Ibrahim Wosono, told Daily Trust that the constitution does not have any provision for the Caretaker Committee to govern the council, urging the lawmakers against going ahead with any law not backed by the constitution.

“The reduction of their tenure is unacceptable constitutionally because they were elected to serve a period of three years, so even if there were an amended law, it would be for the next incoming council, not the serving ones. Therefore, for us in the PDP, we know it’s unconstitutional, and we are not in support of it,” Ibrahim said.

He said should the government fail to yield to its advice to abort the plan, “We will go to court and challenge him (the state governor) on that.”

He further asked their party members, especially those serving as chairmen and councillors, to remain calm, saying the party is always ready to protect their mandate and rights.

What the governor told us when we confronted him – Councillors

Also speaking with Daily Trust, the immediate past Chairman of the Kaduna Councillors Forum and current National Treasurer of the Councillors Forum of Nigeria, Aminu Jibril (aka Honourable MC), said as council members they are fully aware of the law that brought them to office, which is the Local Government Law 2018.

“There was an amendment to the same law in 2022, but recently, they (the state government) took the law back to the state assembly for another amendment. After it passed the third reading, that was when we got the information about what they passed.

“First, they amended the tenure of elected local government councillors and chairmen from three years to two years. Before us, the past elected local government council served for three years; that was in 2012.

“So, when we came on board in 2018, we served three years. I’m now in my second tenure.

“Secondly, in the amendment bill, they now say the governor has the power, four months before the expiration of the two-year tenure, to dissolve the council.

“Before the amendment, in an event where the chairman of the council is not on seat either by resignation, impeachment, or death, the vice chairman will automatically become the chairman, but in the amendment bill, they now said that in an event where the chairman’s seat is vacant, the governor has the power to nominate a sole administrator from outside the council. This means the vice chairman was left out of the new amendment law of becoming a chairman in the event the seat becomes vacant.

“Again, where the office of the vice chairman becomes vacant by either death, resignation, or impeachment, the extant law says an elected councillor from that LGA should be nominated to occupy the office of the vice chairman, but the amendment bill says no councillor from the LGA should be nominated as the vice chairman; rather, the chairman now has the power to nominate any member of his political party outside the legislative council,” Jibril said.

He said their expectation as councillors is that even if the amendment bill is passed and signed into law, they will be allowed to complete their tenure of three years, and the amended law will take effect on the LGA council that will come after them.

He said when the rumour that their tenure was to be truncated became an issue, they met with the governor.

“In that meeting, we told the governor that we heard what the state assembly was doing about reducing our tenure based on his directives. We asked him what we have done to him.

“There, and then the governor told us he was not aware of that. He assured us that he understands the law because he himself had an uninterrupted four-year tenure as a senator, and now he is the governor to serve four years. Therefore, he assured us that nobody would reduce a single day from our tenure. We have the clip, and there was jubilation. So, we are not expecting the same governor who said so to cut short our tenure,” he said.

He, however, added that they have decided that should the governor go ahead and effect any reduction in their term, they will call themselves to discuss the next line of action since they also have leadership both at the state and national levels.

Another councillor in Giwa LGA, who doesn’t want to be named, corroborated Jibril’s position, and they expect the governor to abide by the letters of the law that brought them into power.

A state executive committee member of the APC, who doesn’t want to be named because he was not authorised to speak on the issue, said as far as the party is concerned, the elected officials are elected to serve three years based on the former law, and presently, they have already served two and a half years; therefore, they have a few more months to go.

“But the new amended law, which stipulates that LG chairmen and councillors are to serve two years, will commence after the current serving chairmen and councillors complete their tenure, and already, they have a few months to go. So, they have nothing to worry about,” he said.

No plan to cut short LGA tenure — Gov Sani

Reacting, the state governor, Uba Sani, denied the alleged plan, insisting that there was no such plan to reduce the tenure of the elected LGA officials.

The governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Muhammad Lawal Shehu, told Daily Trust that the governor, as a democrat who fought for Nigeria’s democracy, will allow the law to prevail.

“There is no plan to cut short the tenure of local governments in Kaduna State. His Excellency has reiterated that as a democrat who fought for the enthronement of democracy in Nigeria, he will always allow the rule of law to prevail,” he said.

Meanwhile, efforts to get the reaction of the Kaduna State House of Assembly were unsuccessful as of the time of filing this report.

When contacted, the Chairman of the of the House Committee on Information, Kaduna State House of Assembly, Henry Marah Zachariah, promised to get back to our correspondent with the assembly’s reaction on Saturday but has not done so as of the time of filing the report. Follow-up calls and messages were also not responded to as of the time of filing the report.

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