The 7th assembly of the Katsina State house of Assembly(2015 -2019) was the most eventful as well as the most interesting in the history of the KTHA. It was the first time ever a speaker and his deputy were fairly and freely elected on the floor of the chamber. It was also the first time a speaker of the KTHA was ever impeached.
In democratic systems, it is a normal struggle for the party and the executive arm of the government to be interested in the leadership of the legislature. Considering the supervisory and impeachment powers of the legislature over the executive, the executive arm always try to impose a weak leadership on the legislature for its convenience, impunity and ultimate survival. And in some cases, it is not the party or the head of the executive who are Intrested in the leadership of the legislature, sometimes, it is some powerful stakeholders within the party.
It was in that spirit at the national Assembly, Bola Tinibu, in 2015 using the party, tried unsuccessfully, to have the then senator Ahmed Lawan and Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila electected as the senate president and the speaker house of representatives respectively. At the same time, KTHA was also facing similar challenges from some powerful stakeholders within the party at the state level.
The contest for the positions of the KTHA speaker started immediately after the elections when it was clear that the APC had won all the seats in the house. Considering the zonal arrangement in the state, about 5 members from the Daura zone started campaigning for the post. But there was an obstacle. The house rules provided that only a member with previous legislative experience could contest for that seat.
That provision, effectively made Hon. Dutsi the only member eligible for that seat because he was the only member with previous legislative experience. But hon. Dutsi was in the wrong camp. During the primary elections, he was in the camp of senator Sadiq Yar’adua. And He was a very strong and loyal member. The Idea of having Hon. Dutsi , a very stubbon and fairly independent-minded person, as the speaker with senator Sadiq Yaradua effectively guiding him from the background made the Masari camp very uncomfortable. A threat they were not ready to gamble with.
But they have two hurdles to cross. The first was that apart from Hon. Dutsi, the only other members qualified to contest were Hon. Malumfashi and Hon. Faskari. But those two were from the same senatorial zone with the governor. Picking anyone of them would have meant negating and going against the principles of the zoning, which the people from Daura zone may not likely agree with.
The second option available to them was to have the house rules amended and have that restrictive provision repealed from the house rules so that the contest would be opened for all.. Obviously, the group decided to go for the second option. Because the elections of speaker and his deputy are the first actions to be done during the inauguration of any new legislature, so the only way to achieve the objective was to have the outgoing assembly do the amendment.
Another hurdle. The outgoing assembly was dominated by the PDP whose members were roundly defeated at the then concluded elections. The then speaker, Rt Hon. Gwajogwajo also lost his senatorial election. So the question was, could they agree to amend the house rules which would be favourable to the people and party that just defeated them?
As the then Minority Leader, I was approached to help amend the rules. I told them I could not. I told them doing that would have defeated everything the APC as a party stands for, which was justice and the rule of law. I believe if the current circumstances make Hon. Dutsi the only person qualified to be the speaker, let him be much as we may not like it. I believe rules are made for the effective running of society or system. Not for or against a particular person. In any case I could not do anything. My party was still the minority party in the house. So I advised them to meet the out going defeated PDP members. They did.
My concern at the time was the independence and the sanctity of the legislature. I believed a neutralized and subdued legislature would have defeated all the struggles and sacrifices APC made for justice and the rule of law. So I decided to do something. I Invited all the 34 members elect for a meeting at the charlet. I explained the situation to them and the dangers of handing over our rights and honour. I managed to convince them not to agree with the planned amendment.
At the end of the meeting, we wrote a communique which was signed by all the 34 members. In it, we clearly stated that the 34 members did not support the planned amendments and that , under the prevailing circumstances, we all supported the speakership of honourable Dutsi. And because the position of the deputy speaker was also affected by the same provision, we also concluded that Hon. Faskari should be the deputy speaker. Being the only one with legislative experience after me. I made it clear to them that I was not Intrested in any leadership position. We invited the then party chairman, Dr. Mustapha Inuwa to the meeting; explained everything to him and handed over the communique to him.
On the part of the people pushing for the amendment, they also did not relent. They met the out going defeated PDP members and managed to reach some agreement. They agreed to effect the amendment in exchange for them them to be allowed to nominate the members (who are all PDP members) of the KTHA service commission. That was in addition to some other rumoured agreements…
Finally, they succeeded and the house rules was amended and the position of the speaker was thrown open for all members from the Daura zone…
The struggles for the office of the speaker…….to be continued
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