“Stability and a prosperous life cannot be set off against a set of political rights and freedoms.”
The above quote from the former Russian Prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev, may be apt in situating the circumstances that saw to the emergence of Abdulkarim Lawan, Speaker of the Borno State House of Assembly. He was first elected in 2012, after the impeachment of Goni Ali Modu.
Since his election, he appears to have brought stability to the House, just as he has also ensured the cordial relationship between the executive and legislature without compromising the independence of the House.
In the build up to the race for the speakership, there were some who were opposed to his emergence. Those eyeing the position were of the view that they needed a “radical” to lead the House.
But there were others who believed that to maintain and build on the “stability” recorded under the leadership of Lawan in the 8th assembly, there was need to return Lawan. They also pointed at Lawan’s role in helping to stabilise the polity in the state at the time some stakeholders were trying to heat up the polity unnecessarily.
Those who hold this view were quick to point at two major incidents. One was when some stakeholders raised eyebrow concerning the candidature of the incumbent governor, Professor Umara Zulum in the build up to the governorship election.
Lawan at the time had insisted that Borno needs a person who could build on the then out-going governor’s dreams after devastating Boko Haram attacks.
He noted that picking a wrong person would affect both the state and outgoing governor, insisting that the choice of Zulum was one of the best things to happen ahead of the governorship election.
“I am sure you have not forgotten that Borno is the most ravaged of all the states ever attacked by the Boko Haram insurgents. Apart from never having a moment’s rest for as long as I can remember, Shettima remains the most troubled leader of any state in Nigeria.
“He has spent years trying to build what was destroyed by insurgents as well as scale up the economy of my state. Through support from me and my colleagues at the state Assembly, the governor achieved landmark successes in education, health and rehabilitation of residents displaced in insurgents among other areas.
“So the least that would be expected from such a person is to ensure that the person to take over from him is one that can drive his dream and help him have the needed rest after eight-year turmoil, he cannot afford to pick a wrong choice at this stage when Borno needs continuity and effectiveness in governance. That is why we are all behind him in this endorsement of Umara,” the speaker.
Again, in the build up to the 2015 polls when the former governor, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, at the time moved to the opposition party , which though was the ruling party at the centre, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Majority Leader of the House, Idrissa Jidda, announced that majority of the lawmakers would be moving with Sheriff to the PDP.
Jidda’s claim at the time heightened tension in the state, with citizens expressing the fear that the governor may be impeached should the claim turn out to be true. But Lawan’s quick intervention doused the tension.
Lawan, who was on a lesser hajj at the time, spoke from Saudi Arabia, insisting that he and most members of the Assembly were fully behind the governor, noting at the time that their main concern was how to restore peace in the state and put an end to the incessant killings.
Insisting that Jidda, was entirely on his own, Lawan said “what Jidda said is just his personal opinion and not the position of the House”. In the end, Lawan was proved right, as only a handful defected with Sheriff ahead of that election.
All these, Daily Sun gathered, came in handy in favour Lawan, when party stakeholders were meeting and strategising on the post-Shettima era, especially on the structure and content of the new government.
Although, some have also criticised the 8th assembly for not doing enough, lawmakers who served in that assembly think otherwise. One of them is Abubakar Tijjani, who represented Maiduguri Metropolitan Council (MMC).
He said “We passed many bills; we worked within the ambit of the law. We had good relationship with the executive and our support should not be seen as a rubber stamp position. We only worked to ensure peace and stability in the system.”
Also speaking in the same, another lawmaker said “it is unfair to say we are rubber stamp for the executive or that we performed very low, considering the peculiar environment under which we operated. We attended sittings regularly and passed bills. We didn’t relocate to Abuja on the basis of insecurity. We stayed here with our people, deliberating and making laws even when our lives were threatened. I think we should rather be commended not criticised. The number of bills we passed may be small, what we should be concerned about is the quality of bills not quantity. We should ask ourselves whether or not these bills impacted positively on our people. We may pass 50 bills and the bills do not have any positive impact on the people. What then is the essence of passing such bills? To me, the last Borno State House of Assembly should be commended. We’ve played our part and posterity will judge us right. All the members of that legislative year were committed to the well-being of Borno people and we did the best we could.”
To show appreciation to Lawan, party leaders and elders ensured that no one came out to challenge him for the position on the day of inauguration. Also, because of his antecedents, he secured the support of the returning lawmakers, who are in the majority.
Speaking shortly after his emergence as the speaker of the 9th Borno State House of Assembly, Lawan said “Members, we have just witnessed the inauguration of the House where its presiding officers were elected to pilot its activities for a period of four years.
“I wish to seize this opportunity to congratulate you all on your successful inauguration. Your emergence as a member of the Borno State House of Assembly during the 2019 general elections is a testimony of your acceptance by your people to represent them. As we take oath of office and allegiance today, we have signed a covenant to work for the betterment of our distressed people and state and will leave no stone unturned in ensuring better legislation.
“Looking at the composition of the 9th assembly, where 19 members returned, we will together with the new energetic members surely consolidate on the achievements of the 8th Assembly which was unprecedented.
“We will work closely and support the administration of Professor Baba Gana Umara Zulum, in the fulfilment of his electioneering promises which mainly focused on security, job creation, education, food security, transparency, accountability and prudence management of scarce resources. To achieve these goals, we will ensure that appropriate laws are passed, strengthen inter-arms and agencies partnership and cooperation, and rigorous oversight functions among other legislative functions.