How Gov Ishaku Altered Equation, Plots Former Speaker’s Return
By Ben ADAJI-Jalingo
The emergence of a new speaker for the Taraba State House of Assembly last week is generating reactions from stakeholders who fault the election of Mark Useni, representing Takum 2 Constituency, Takum Local Government Area, the same as Governor Darius Ishaku, which negates power sharing principles adopted since the creation of the state.
Majority Leader of the house, Mr Albasu Kunini, nominated Useni and was seconded by Mr Joshia Aji of Wukari 2 Constituency and the nomination was supported by all the 22 lawmakers present.
But, NationalTRAIL learnt that the election may not be unconnected with scheming by Governor Darius IshAku in anticipation that the former Speaker, Honorable Abel Diah of Mbamnga constituency, whose election was nullified by the Court of Appeal on December, 2015, may return to the assembly in the rerun election, and subsequently take back the speakership position.
This move is against the background that, Darius Ishaku’s election will be upheld by the Supreme court, given precedents so far set in that respect by previous judgments, which will eventually correct the imbalance, if Diah eventually returns.
Our correspondent reports that, these scheming were perfected shortly after the court of appeal nullified the election of Mr Diah, following which some members of the Assembly loyal to Governor Ishaku were invited to the Government House and directed towards producing a regent Speaker pending the outcome of the rerun election slated for February 20th.
It was gathered that the members were thereafter sent on recess, to enable a think tank workout an alibi and to ensure that Governor Darius’ seat is secured.
Deputy Speaker of the assembly, Alhaji Mohammed Gwompo, confirmed to our correspondent that the house was on an indefinite recess, and so he could not answer questions. On resumption from the recess, which attracted wide criticisms the lawmakers according to findings were handed a script to act out which produced the new speaker.
Sources said Governor Darius Ishaku, quickly ordered the members to return from their more than 40 days overseas trip, when it became apparent that, going by trends in the judgments delivered by the Apex Court, there was no immediate threat to his seat.
Between February 1st and 3rd, the governor was said to have held meetings with some prominent stakeholders and lawmakers in Government House where It was resolved that Useni having agreed to serve as a regent be elected speaker to hold brief until Abel Diah whose rerun election is scheduled for February 20, 2016 returns.
Investigations further revealed that, the choice of Useni who hails from the same Takum Local Government as the Governor fits into the calculations that, the power balancing principle provides a perfect alibi to demand for his resignation, or if he resists, impeachment, to pave way for Diah’s return. This permutation is against the background that will not betray Governor Ishaku, or the stakeholders. Investigations reveal that apart from what looks like a novel idea of keeping the ousted Speaker’s, seat for him, there are other reasons behind the move. First, it is true the seat is actually kept for Mr. Peter. The member from Mbamga ward has been a member of what is seen as the inner circle of the cabal that brought in the current governor. For the governor, this move is to show that he is loyal to his associates. And that should they fall, the PDP can rally around them as a family.
But another rationale behind the move is to ensure that power remain in the Southern zone. Darius case is still dangling at the Supreme Court. If, in the thinking of power brokers, things should go awry, the current arrangement would still keep power in the south! How? Mark Useni is from the south and even from Takum where Darius is from. The reasoning is that if the Supreme Court should order a fresh election, the speaker would be sworn in as acting governor. He would then conduct the election that should easily be won by Darius again.
All these did not seem to go down well with some people, as the Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Alhaji Hassan Ardo, has described the election of Hon. Mark Useni, as speaker of the State House of Assembly as not only an aberration of democracy, but an insult to the electorates of Taraba State.
According to Ardo the APC stakeholders had to summon an emergency meeting in Jalingo on Saturday over the Speaker issue, and after serious deliberation convened the media briefing to condemn the action of the lawmakers and that of the executive teleguided by Governor Darius Ishaku, stressing that it was a clear indication that Taraba has been mortgaged by a cartel that had little or no knowledge of governance.
He explained that the emergence of Useni who is from the same the same local government and the same tribe with the governor portrays the decadence of democracy in Taraba State.
In his individual opinion, Barrister M. B. Mustapha, a former Governorship aspirant under the People’s Democratic Movement (PDM) said “The members have proven to the electorates that they were not their true representatives, they were a disgrace to democracy and not worthy of the votes given to them in the April 2015 election
Mustapha said it was unfortunate that since assumption of office, Governor Darius has not recorded a single achievement while the lawmakers who are expected to checkmate him, have embarked on globetrotting at the expense of the state.
Mr. Dennis Yakubu, a PDP stalwart from Karim Lamido Local Government expressed disappointment at the lawmakers whom he said had turned themselves into a rubber stamp of the executive and allows a cartel to hijack the affairs of the state. While, Usman Suleiman, a strong supporter of All Progressives Congress (APC) from Ibi local government of the state, called on the lawmakers to vacate their seats for betraying the people of the state.
Meanwhile, the Commissioner of Police in Taraba Alhaji Shaba Alkali has dismissed as mere speculations from certain quarters that the state was witnessing massive influx of Boko Haram insurgents in the past few weeks; rather, some politicians may be planning to import political thugs from other states in preparation for forthcoming rerun elections. .
Addressing a press conference in Jalingo, the Commissioner explained that, rather, those coming into the state were job seekers and displaced persons running away from trouble areas of Borno, Gombe, Yobe, and Adamawa States that were challenged by insecurity.
According Alkali, most of those coming into the state were Taraba indigenes resident in those states, adding that a truck conveying more than 50 persons including women and children intercepted by the police in Jalingo recently were not Boko Haram members, but citizens fleeing from trouble.
The CP disclosed that after thorough screening, it was discovered that more than 90 per cent of them were indigenes of Taraba State.
He revealed that the police was aware of plans by some politicians in the state to recruit mercenaries, purchase arms, to disrupt the forth coming rerun election for state and national assembly elections in about 48 polling units across four local government areas of the state.
Alkali warned that the police would deal decisively with anybody, no matter how highly placed, that may be found to be fomenting trouble during the exercise, even as he said that the command has crack down a gang of armed robbery suspects, car snatchers and receivers that have recently constituted a seriously security nuisance to the state.
“Police investigation revealed the gang had recently broken into the house of the state commissioner of Agriculture Mr David Ishaya and made away with his official car and other valuables which were later traced and recovered in Yola, Adamawa”, he disclosed.
Alkali said that the Toyota Camry 2016 model valued at N7.5 million was sold to a receiver in Adamawa at the cost of N800, 000, and the Receiver had in turn conveyed the car to Garwa in the neighbouring Cameroon Republic where he sold the same car for N1.5 million.
The Commissioner assured residents of the state that command was working round the clock to ensure the safety of life and property of citizens.
Reacting to above development, Governor Darius Ishaku said he is being unnecessarily roped into a matter he knows nothing about, and could not have done so being a man of peace.
Senior Special Assistant on Media to the Governor, Mr Sylvanus Giwa, denied his principal’s alleged roles, saying, “A lot of people are misconceiving the role of my principal in the forthcoming rerun elections. As much as he is interested in the rerun, he will be the last person to manipulate any election. Count him out of anything that will bring about a breach of the peace. Remember, he is always saying, “Give me peace and I will give you development”.