Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has assured that he will work with the relevant constitutional bodies to resolve the crises rocking the Houses of Assembly in Bauchi and Edo states.
This is even as he has urged the members not to give up their rights and the rights of those who elected them, charging them not to compromise on their individual integrity so as not to divide the House and the party.
The President gave the assurance Wednesday when he received in audience, members of the Bauchi House of Assembly as well as other stakeholders in the State.
Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, quoted Buhari as saying: “I am aware of the problem in Edo and Bauchi states and I try to appreciate my position as the President, the political situation vis a vis the constitution of our country, the role of the commissioners of police and the party. I always like to be on the side of the constitution,” he said.
The President promised to liaise with the Minister of Justice when sworn in, and the Inspector General of Police, to ensure that the rights of the constituencies and individuals were not abused in any form.
Buhari advised them to stay firm, bearing in mind their responsibilities to their constituencies and always keep the party in the State and at the center informed.
The party members led by the Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, had briefed the President on events leading to the crisis in the House.
Meanwhile, the 17 aggrieved APC members of Bauchi State House of Assembly who were sworn into office last Friday following reconciliation with their colleagues, have made a u-turn and renounced their inauguration, after meeting with President Buhari.
The lawmakers were led to the meeting with the President by Hon. Kawuwa Shehu Damina, who had earlier laid claim to the Speakership of the State Assembly until he and his aggrieved colleagues sheathed their swords and accepted Abubakar Suleiman, who was elected by 11 members at a previous inauguration of the House, as Speaker.
The 31-member Bauchi Assembly is comprised of 22 APC Members; eight Peoples Democratic Party members and eight New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) members.
Emerging from the closed-door parley with Buhari, the lawmakers told State House Correspondents that they no longer abide by the reconciliation they reached with their colleagues and the State Governor, five days earlier.
Speaking on their behalf, Damina said they now demand a fresh proclamation for another inauguration of the State Assembly, so that a new Speaker can be elected.
Damina said: “The purpose of our coming to see Mr. President is at the instance of our party. So we came to brief him on what is happening in the Bauchi State House of Assembly since the purported inauguration which as you are all aware, two leaderships emerged. Primarily he (the President) was fully briefed directly from us.”
Asked what the true situation was having been inaugurated earlier, he said, “The situation is as it is now because in Arithmetic, there is nothing that will make 11 to be greater than 20; and later that 11 grew to 13. So that is the position.”
On how they intend to resolve this issue, he said, “Let me clearly state that this is not about any individual. All what we from the APC are asking for is a sane institution irrespective of who emerges as a leader. All we are saying is that the right thing based on constitutional provisions should be done – with a proclamation issued, specifying date, time and venue should be announced. Once that is done election should be conducted and whoever emerges as leader, fine and good.
“If you are following the event where parallel leadership emerged, our senior colleagues at the National Assembly threw a motion by one representative from Bauchi, which resulted in its adoption and later setting up a committee. They even visited Bauchi and reported back to the plenary for the House of Representatives, which already a decision was taken, given a four weeks ultimatum to the State Governor within which to issue a fresh proclamation for proper inauguration of the state assembly to take place.
“So we have briefed Mr President being the leader of our party and father of the country and a custodian of the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria as amended, to seek his advise.”
Asked the position of the constitution regarding proclamation and if it was right to make proclamation two times, the factional speaker said, “I don’t want to go into the details. But what actually happened was, on the day the initial proclamation was made was for a date which was Thursday, a time of 10am and a venue of the House of Assembly Chambers. All of us, especially of the APC, were ready in compliance with the invitation. We arrived in the chamber at 7:53am and to our dismay as at the time of our arrival, 11 out of the 31 members of the assembly members were already there and had conducted election for the speaker and other principal officers.
“So what we did since the invitation letter was reading 10am, we decided to wait in the chamber. But unfortunately just as we were trying to wait at the chamber, teargas was released forcing a to leave the chamber and one of us who is an asthmatic patient was affected and rushed to hospital. What we did was to comply with the constitutional provisions of waiting for 10 o’clock which we did. We gave an additional time of one hour to see if the governor and other members would come so we can do the needful but they didn’t so we conducted our elections. That is how the second parallel leadership emerged.
“Since then there have been crisis, after the House of Representatives committee visited they met with all the critical stakeholders and conducted a public hearing which they received over twenty submissions from different groups and individuals and their report was submitted back. There resolution was nullifying both our faction and their own and directed the governor to issue a fresh proclamation for another inauguration to take place.“