As Defection Rumours Stir Intrigues In Kano Assembly

December 23, 2020
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The emergence of a new Speaker of the Kano State House of Assembly brings to the fore the changing dynamics of the state’s politics, ABDULLAHI YAKUBU writes

The recent change of leadership in the Kano State House of Assembly, indicates how delicate politics in the state and by extension the Assembly has been.

Last Tuesday, lawmakers in the state elected Hon Hamisu Chidari as the new speaker following the resignation of his predecessor, Speaker of the Kano State House of Assembly, Hon Abdulazeez Garba Gafasa,

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Mr Chidari emerged speaker following his nomination by the lawmaker representing Wudil constituency in the Assembly, Abdullahi Achika.

The House also elected the lawmaker representing Albasu constituency, Zubairu Masu, as deputy speaker, Labaran Madari (Warawa constituency) as majority leader and Abdullahi Yaryasa (Tudunwada) as deputy majority leader.

Same day, that the immediate-past speaker, Gafasa, and two other principal officers of the legislative body resigned from their positions.

Mr Gafasa conveyed his decision through a letter to the Clerk of the House, dated December 14.

While he did not state the reason for his resignation in the letter, he however, thanked his colleagues in the 40-member assembly for their support and prayed to God to guide the new leadership.

Although no reason was given for the resignation, it is believed in some quarters that it is related to recent primaries of the ruling party in the state and inability of the former speaker to demand payment of members allowances and other welfare packages from the executive arm of government.

Recall that the recent primaries of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) for the forthcoming local government elections in Kano had, as expected in any political contest, caused disaffection among party leaders after some members protested the outcome of the process.

The member representing Kano Municipal in the House of Representatives, Sha’aban Sharada, had alleged that the party’s leadership in Kano Municipal Local Government Area replaced delegates loyal to him prior to the primaries.

The intrigues however took a fresh turn as some members of the ruling APC including the immidiate-past speaker, were accused of plotting to dump the APC for another party.

Even before his resignation as the speaker, it was learnt that the former speakers political dealings were being monitored by some party chieftains which according to sources contributed to the move to have him replacedbefore he could ochestrate his defection plans.

Interestingly, the current speaker, Chidari was Gafasa’s deputy before he ascended the speakership position.

However, the politics of the leadership of the Kano State Assembly has been intriguing since 2015. In a power play that smacks  of outsmarting the next man to attained the top seat, no less than five speakers have presided over the chamber within the space of two years.

For instance, starting with Rt Honourable Kabiru Alhassan Rurum a member representing Rano/Bunkure Constituency, was removed over an allegation that he received a huge some of money from a na kano-born international business mogul over a matter regarding the former Emir of Kano.

The allegation provoked the legislators and they decided to impeached him even before the allegation against him was investigated or substantiated.

The lawmakers elected in Hon Abdullahi Attta a member representing Fagge Constituency and chairmanAppropriation Committee as the new speaker. But within the twinkle of an eye he too was shown the way out when the house, after a unanimous resolution, impeached him on grounds of an allegation bordering on financial impropriety and laxity to work.

The House specifically accused him of high handedness, late-coming and being incapable of championing their course,  like tabling their grievances before the executive to seek for all kinds of favours and other benefits.

Interestingly, Atta’s ouster paved the way for Rurum’s return as speaker, an unprecedented  development as no impeached speaker has ever staged a come back having secured the votes of the same members who left removed him based on an allegation.

Rurum’s return was not easy. The former speaker who is now the chairman, House Committee on Pension at the Federal House of Representatives, battled his way back as speaker after the committee set up by theState Assembly to investigate the allegations levelled against him cleared him of all the accusations.

Rurum’s tenure ended with the expiration of the first tenure, while the immediate-past speaker, Gafasa from Ajingi Constituency was elected speaker with the start of the life of this State Assembly and second tenure of the present administration in the state.

Gafasa almost two years into office resigned upon sensing moves to remove him. This was  due to the quick response by the ex-speaker  who was informed by a friend that he might  be impeached on that same Tuesday.

Reports had it that some APC chieftains had already worked out a strategy for the disposal of the ex-speakerby implicating him for allegedly having a close tie with members of the opposition  PDP.

Even though he succeeded in beating the impeachment plot against him by resigning, talks about his defection to the PDP  continues to resonate.

So far, reports have it that Gafasa and 13 other lawmakers are already set to pitch tent with PDP in the chamber, a situation which does not augur well for the APC if true.

In the House of 40 members, APC has 28 lawmakers, with two lawmakers representing double constituencies such Muhammed Bello Butu-Butu from Rimin Gado and Tofa, while Mohammed Ya’u Gwarmai from Kunchi and Tsanyawa Constituency respectively.

The opposition party, PDP has 12 members. As such, a situation whereby the ex-speaker and 13 aggrieved members defect to PDP, undoubtedly the number of opposition members would amount to 25, while the ruling party members would be depleted to 15.

According to some pundits while this scenario will pose a serious threat to both legislative and state executive arms, particularly the smooth passaging of Executive bills in the house.

Whats more, watchers aver that such defection would  cause a ripple effect not just within  the House but in the state as it would posit a resurgence of PDP in the state, even though the party is battling to remain united.

Recall that the return of former governor of Kano State, Rabiu Kwankwaso to the PDP in the build up to the 2019 general election after his sojourn the APC caused some up set within the party.

Kwankwaso had served as governor under PDP for the better part of eight years before defecting to APC at the twilight of his tenure as governor. Before Kwankwaso’s return, Senator Ibrahim Shekarau and Aminu Wali, a former Ambassador and one-time Foreign Affairs minister held sway in PDP.

Following irreconcilable political differences, Kwankwaso’s return forced Shekarau to return to APC which he helped form. Wali who also fell out with Kwankwaso, however refused to leave the party but insisted on being the leader of the party in the state.

Unable to resolve the rift, PDP went into the 2019 governorship election in the state and lost. While the rivalry in the party died down after the governorship polls, the announcement of a date for the local government polls resurrected the split within its fold.

Still, such defection into the PDP will swell the ranks of the Kwankwaso-led camp much to the opposition of the state governor, Ganduje, whose strained political relationship with Kwankwaso whom he served as deputy for eight years has been topical in the state since 2016.

But is the evolving situation in the House a new frontier in the political battle between Ganduje and Kwankwaso? Time shall tell.

However, while it is learnt that PDP seems to be  getting the attention of the aggrieved APC lawmakers, Gafasa and the current Speaker Hamisu Chidari had both denied plans by some members of the House to defect to the PDP.

Gafasa and 13 other members loyal to him  described speculations that they are moving out of the APC to PDP in protest of what happened to them as a baseless cooked up story.

He said there was no place or time he spoke about what happened to him or discussed plans to decamp from the ruling APC.

“You can see that enemies are at work speculating that I’m moving out of APC to PDP, this is nothing but a baseless lie created to tarnish my name and reputation”.

He said, “I’m still and always loyal to our Party APC and indeed our Governor Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje and anybody who thinks otherwise should go and die”.

The new elected speaker, Chidari also refuted the speculation that his predecessor was decamping to PDP saying the story was a mischievous calculated one to cause confusion in the State and the house.

The ball is now in the court of the new speaker  Chidari and all eyes are on him to see how he leads the House to the path of stability. But he also has to grapple with the seeming tradition of being impeached from the office like his predecessors.

However, while the politicking that is playing out in the chamber rage, commentators aver that it might be taking a toll on the quality of governance, especially legislation and oversight functions as it were.

Commenting on the drama of leadership change in the chamber, a political analyst and lawyer, Biodun Akinwumi, said,“For me it is worrisome that we are having these kind of leadership changes in the chamber. Like I understand this is not the second or third time we are seeing this happen in the state.

“In a country where the state assembly is seen as an appendage of the executive government, it’s hard to imagine that such frequent changes in leadership will not be distracting to governance and a setback to their main assignments of making laws and over-sighting the executive which they rarely do anyway,” he said.

Speaking also, another public commentator, Abdul Hasimu said “as much as the lawmakers have a right to determine the kind of leadership they want, however what we seeing in this case, just like most other state assemblies is a tendency for lawmakers to be more interested in politics than the job they were elected to do.

“It reflects the state of our politics and it’s actors  which does not speak well of us. They have to prove that they have not neglected their responsibility in pursuit of politics of leadership which is not just a misplacement of priorities but an impediment to quality governance,” he said.

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