No patriotic person persists with actions that open political wounds that are already in the process of healing. This is particularly apt for a fragile democracy like Nigeria that is in the throes of agonising electoral disputation and disquieting security challenges. Painfully, it is one of those tragedies of our time that, while genuine lovers of peace and progress have heaved a sigh of relief, since the stalemate in the Bauchi State House of Assembly was broken, the national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, has been busy stoking the crisis further by seeking the intervention of the President in a matter that stakeholders in the state had laid to rest.
The genesis of the crisis is so well placed in the public domain that full reproduction here is not necessary. However, for the avoidance of doubt, it is apposite to recall that crisis erupted in the state House of Assembly, following the emergence of two Speakers, namely, Alhaji Abubakar Suleiman and Alhaji Kawuwa Damina, for the legislative house. While the former was elected inside the Assembly and under the supervision of the Clerk of the House, following a proclamation issued by Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State, the latter claimed to have been elected outside the Assembly, without any of the legal instruments. However, it was Damina who received the backing of the state chapter of the APC, thus setting the stage for a battle of wits between the Suleiman-led House and the other faction.
As in Edo State, where a similar scenario was playing out, the intervention of the National Assembly brought little respite, as the state government had flatly rejected the Senate ultimatum for the governor to issue a fresh proclamation for the inauguration of the Assembly. Instead, the governor, himself a senator who in his days inspired the passage of the historical Doctrine of Necessity motion that paved the way for Goodluck Jonathan to ascend to the presidency, deployed every conflict management strategy at his disposal, as he engaged the state’s critical stakeholders. His effort was genuine; he wanted an amicable resolution of the crisis. And the people responded in kind.
A close aide of the governor revealed that three factors played strongly on his emotions. The first was the responsibility to provide the framework for inclusive governance; the second was the recognition that, without stable legislative backing, the people-oriented programmes aimed at alleviating the pangs of the maladministration of the past would suffer avoidable delays. He was also worried that, if youth anger against his predecessor was not doused, insecurity in the state could degenerate to the point of escalating the crisis in the North East zone.
As luck would have it, about two weeks ago, the 17 legislators who had all along shut themselves out were sworn in as members of the Bauchi State House of Assembly, at an impressive, yet solemn, ceremony attended by the governor and other principal officers of his administration. Curiously, some days after that much-desired breakthrough was recorded, Oshiomhole herded some of the legislators to the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, where they met with the President to seek his intervention, one that would invariably disrupt the incipient peace, if the President capitulated to Oshiomhole’s brinksmanship.
The submission of the 17 legislators to the authority of the incumbent Speaker was seen as a masterstroke, the principal beneficiaries being those constituencies that had been denied representation through the absence of their legislators from the Assembly. Their return was hailed as a patriotic act; they had placed the interests of their constituencies above their personal political aspirations. In yielding to the fervent yearnings of the various stakeholders suing for peace, they exhibited commendable sensibility to growing concern, that any attempt to undermine the popularly elected government of Senator Bala Mohammed could exacerbate the already worrisome security situation in the North East zone of the country.
If the people of Bauchi have wisely put their differences behind them, what is Oshiomhole’s business dragging a few out of the 31 members of the House before the President? Is that to imply that he is in a better position to appreciate the challenges facing Bauchi State than the legislators, who are indigenes of the state? Let us assume without conceding that, in inaugurating the Assembly, certain infractions were committed as to warrant the issuance of another proclamation; why is Oshiomhole throwing his weight around by dragging the President into the matter? In local parlance, why is he crying more than those affected by the perceived impropriety? If the former Speaker and his colleagues have deemed it auspicious to stage a peaceful comeback to the Assembly, what, either in the realm of legality or commonsense, can be adduced for Oshiomhole’s offensive against the people of Bauchi State?
Any other political leader would have grabbed with both hands the window for peace and stability that Bala Mohammed has provided through his deft handling of the Bauchi imbroglio. Moments such as this require leaders in the calibre of Governor Bala Mohammed, men and women with the right temperament, strategic vision and bipartisan proclivity, to douse political flames, heal bruised egos and calm frayed nerves of all stakeholders. If there is anything President Muhammadu Buhari needs most at this time, it is peace. It is one of those ironies of life that Bala Mohammed, who leads the PDP-controlled state government, is the one who has achieved that peace that Oshiomhole desperately seeks to disrupt. It is in this context that Oshiomhole is either reckless or insensitive or indeed both!
The President’s reaction that he would thread the path of constitutionalism is a reassuring elixir to Oshiomhole’s dangerous brinksmanship. While the Presidency weighs in on the matter, it should not lose sight of the fact that, by some uncanny coincidence, Oshiomhole is deepening his misadventure in Bauchi State at the same time that the director-general of the APC Governors’ Forum, Salihu Lukman, is ruthlessly demolishing his leadership style as not only disruptive but destructive to the party. Interestingly, Bauchi State is among the seven, which, in Lukman’s words, were lost because of Oshiomole’s poor leadership. As if that was not bad enough, Lukman has predicted that, with Oshiomhole in charge, the future is indeed very bleak for the APC.
If the Presidency needs to tell Oshiomhole anything at all, it is for him to patch up the leaking roofs of his party, remove the log from his eyes, as eminently outlined by the director-general of the APC Governors Forum, while allowing state governors, especially Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State, to discharge the mandate freely given to them by their people. He cannot love Bauchi State more than its people. That is the plain truth.