19 July 2018

Nigeria: Day Plateau Lawmakers Showed Speaker, Majority Leader Exit Door

Last week Wednesday, the Speaker and the majority leader of the Plateau state house of assembly were impeached. In this piece ACHOR ABIMAJE takes a look at the nitty gritty and outcries that led to the sack of the two principal officers of the house

Wednesday,11th July, 2018 can be described as end of the road for the impeached speaker and majority leader of the Plateau State house of assembly when 20 members of the house irrespective of their political parties signed a document with the aim of impeaching the duo.

Indeed, this development led to the removal of the Speaker Rt. Hon. Peter Azi, representing Jos North West state constituency and Majority leader, Henry Yenkwap, representing Shendam state constituency.

Our correspondent gathered that 20 out of the 24 members of the Plateau State House of Assembly endorsed the move in a signed document.

The duo were immediately replaced with Joshua Madaki representing Jos East state constituency and former chief whip as the new speaker and Daniel Nanlong representing Mikang constituency as the new majority leader respectively.

Earlier the member representing Barkin Ladi state constituency on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Peter Gyendeng, presented a signed document of the 20 members citing incompetence and lack of leadership qualities as they pass a vote of no confident on the duo.

However, the former speaker, Peter Azi, stepped down from the speaker's seat and the Deputy Speaker Saleh Yitmong presided over the sitting where he asked for nomination from members of the house to elect a new speaker.

At that junction, the former deputy speaker, Hon. Yusuf Gagdi, representing Kantana state constituency nominated Hon. Joshua Madaki for the position of the new speaker which was unanimously voted through a voice vote.

Twelve out of the Seventeen APC legislators in the assembly also signed a document removing the majority leader Henry Yenkwap over alleged poor representation.

In his reaction, newly elected lawmaker, Joshua Madaki, pledged his unflinching support to the house and promised to play key roles in ensuring the business of the house to move forward.

While the new majority leader of the house, Daniel Naanlong, said a new dawn has been opened in the house as APC members will see the change they deserve.

LEADERSHIP recalled that last week, members of the house of assembly after much pressure from the executive extend the tenure of the management committee chairmen of the 15 council area by One month which might be one of the reason that led to the impeachment of the two principal officers of the house.

Before the Wednesday impeachment of the speaker, it has been rumored that members of the assembly were not happy over his handling of affairs of the house as there has been an extensive secret meetings holding in an undisclosed venue over the matter.

It was further gathered that the Plateau State Governor has not settled constituencies allowance which has been pending since 2016.

Investigations further revealed that Plateau State House of Assembly seating was on Tuesday last week wa aborted owing to the nonpayment of salaries, allowances and constituency projects and has also ejected the lists and tenure extension of the current chairmen of management committee of council area which was earlier sent by Governor Simon Lalong for confirmation.

According to another source, the House members and principal officers are suffering while the sacked speaker and majority leader of the house continued to shield the governor and are being described as rubber stamps who have been pocketed by the Governor Simon Lalong-led administration.

Meanwhile, the impeachment of Hon. Peter Azi of the All Progressive Congress (APC) as speaker of the Plateau state House of Assembly has been described as a positive development towards enhancing the independence of the House and for deepening of democracy as well as ensuring its dividends.

According to Dr. Godwin Ejeh, a public affairs commentator, the legislative arm of government acts as a check against the Executive arm and has the power to conduct investigation on issues of public interest and is even saddled with the responsibility of removing the head of the executive by impeachment.

He said the Plateau state House of Assembly under the leadership of Hon. Azi, its former speaker is said to have fallen short of its responsibility as it was said to be unable to recognize and exercise its constitutional roles effectively which is said to have led to its relegation to a mere government department.

"Now that there is a new speaker at the helm of affairs, I will advice that he sits up and do the needful, taking into cognizance that the legislature is an independent arm which main function is checks and balances of the executive arm".

Also in his submission Nde Alexander Molwus a PDP stalwart said the impeachment of the speaker to him, does not mean anything saying the impeached speaker and the members of the house are victims of the same circumstance .

According to him, the founder mental problem of the state viz a viz insecurity has not been addressed under the leadership of the impeached speaker and governor Simon Lalong.

'We should not expect much from the new leadership of the house except if the house will say they has nothing to do with governor Simon Lalong. What is happening is leadership tussle. The killings or security lapses in the state , the house is silent, they have failed to addressed most founder mental issues confronting the state ."

He pointed out that the job of a speaker is for an agile, creative and competent person. "A person that is exposed, vibrant and knowledgeable. All these qualities are lacking in Peter Azi I must tell you. So, I don't know how the idea of bringing him to be the speaker started. The man was incapable and his impeachment is long overdue. I am made to understand that the new speaker is a lawyer. I believe we would begin to see positive changes in the house. I wish him good luck" he said.

Similarly, Hon Amos Gizo an APC stalwart in the state also said the impeachment was a normal legislative procedure which is only exclusive for the members of the house.

He added that when legislators are disenchanted with their speaker, impeachment becomes an imperative saying even though he did not know the reason for the impeachment a situation whereby 19 out of 23 mbers pass a vote of no confident on the speaker is not a good development . Gizo enthused .

Also in his reaction to the Plateau speaker impeachment a political analyst Prince Valentine Adese said the reason for the speaker removal was as a result of leadership problem.

According to him, over three years the house never had an over head and they have been carrying out their business in silent adding that even the staff of the house of assembly has one time embark on strike .

He pointed out that at a point both staff and members are wallowing in suffering as the Plateau quest apart from the LGC independent bill, no any law targeting the poor masses was enacted. The house has totally drifted from the yearning and aspiration of the people of the state under the leadership of the impeached speaker .

"You find out that immediately after the impeachment of the speaker , the members drove in convoy to met with APC state chairman . The legislators and the executive are not at war rather the legislators are at war with themselves He said.

In his reaction the chairman of the Plateau state chapter of Action Democratic Party ADP Chief Nanyah Damen told our correspondent in Jos that the impeachment of the speaker should have come earlier than now.

According to him, the speaker has failed the people of the state by doing nothing in the face of the killings of innocent lives and bad governance saying he has also compromise the welfare of his members in the house.

All those who spoke to our correspondent opined that the impeachment of the speaker was long overdue noting that the former speaker was a puppet of Governor Simon Bako Lalong and almost turned the house into an annex of the executive arm.

Neither the APC state chairman Hon. Latep Dabang and his spokesman Hon. Chindo Dafan could be reached on phone to comment on the development as the duo mobile phone was switch off when our correspondent called for inquiry.

But the Plateau state government while reacting on the impeachment saga said the impeachment of the Speaker and Majority Leader of the State House of Assembly, came as a surprise to the Governor.

According to a statement issued by Mark Longyen, Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Media and Publicity said the development was purely a legislative matter.

He pointed out the development can at best be understood as a routine leadership change in the state legislature, where members decide to effect a change of any or some of their principal officers for reasons best known to them.

Part of the statement reads in part "For instance, the members cited "vote of no confidence" on the impeached leaders as the reason for their decision to effect the change, which is best known to them alone. ".

He further stressed ,"However, it is normal for the public to speculate since they are not privy to the nitty-gritty of what really transpired within the innermost recess of the legislative. Chambers." Longyen opined.

Be that as it may , will the new speaker live up to expectation of the members and the yearning and aspiration of the people of the state , only time will tell.

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