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CAT AND MOUSE GAME BETWEEN NASARAWA LEGISLATORS AND GOVERNOR

By NBF News
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By Gbenga Oke
Before the Congress for Progressive Change, (CPC) led government under Governor Tanko Almakura took over the helm of affairs in Nasarawa state, there was calm between the State Executive and the State House of Assembly. The calm was because the State House of Assembly was heavily dominated by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The relationship between the House and the ex-governor, Akwe Doma was so cordial except for the challenge that was put up by the four opposition members in the House. That opposition was at that time mainly spearheaded by the only Labour Party, LP member in that house, Innocent Lagi. The three other oppositionists in the house belonged to the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP.

The executive and the last House of Assembly were so much in a romp that it was the opinion of some that the legislature was a rubber stamp of former Governor Doma.

Also, the unavailability of a State House of Assembly Complex where members could sit and perform their basic duties is believed to have contributed to the non-performance of the former house members as they were seen most times hanging loitering around the premises of the Ministry of Local Governments where they were temporarily relocated following the rehabilitation works in the House of Assembly complex.

Character and style
However, since the inception of a new administration in the state, the character and style of the relationship between the legislative and the executive branches of government have dramatically altered.

While the PDP continues its dominance of the state legislature with 20 members in the 24 member House, the change of baton in the executive mansion in Lafia with the inauguration of Alhaji Tanko Al-Makura of the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC as governor has altered the equation.

Remarkably, the CPC has only four members in the House.

It is as such not surprising that the fear of many politicians in the state about prolonged crisis has begun to manifest with the latest face_off between the Governor and the State House arising from the recent appointment of caretaker committee members for the various development areas in the state. That action has led to the freezing of the accounts of the development areas by the House.

The controversy started when the tenure of the Local Government Chairmen in the state expired on the 22nd of June 2011 and the state government made moves to swear in sole administrators in the development areas of the state.

The crisis arose from the insistence of the legislators that they, House members would pick the members for the development areas while the governor would pick the administrators. But the governor it was learnt rejected the interference.

Sources in the state said that both the governor and the House members did not agree on the terms till the governor traveled out of the state for an event. The matter got to its peak when Governor Al_Makura appointed the Management Committee Chairmen and members for the 16 Development Areas of Nasarawa State upon the dissolution of the former management committees by the House of Assembly recently.

In a statement signed by the Secretary to the State Government, Mr Hamza Elayo, the Governor stated that the appointments were to ensure that there was no void left at that level of government.

Immediately after the announcement over the weekend, it was said that the Deputy Governor, Damishi Luka immediately swung into action early Monday morning to swear in the new administrators, urging them to see their appointments as service to the people of Nasarawa state.

While Luka was busy inaugurating the sole administrators in his office, members of the Assembly rose up against the appointment and passed a resolution that the accounts of the development areas be frozen.

Their grouse was that the appointments were not in line with the Nasarawa State local government administrative laws.

The House Majority leader, Godiya Akwashiki who raised the motion noted that apart from the fact that the appointment contravenes section 80 and 81 of the state local government law of 2009, it also fell short of section 4, sub_section 6and 7 of the 1999 constitution.

Further, Akwashiki noted, 'under the law, development areas are operating under their mother council areas and there are no existing councils at the local government and the 2011 budget for local government has not been approved.'

He however stated, 'Appointing sole administrators without local government council in place is in violation of the nation's constitution and I urge the house to pass a resolution directing that all funds meant for the development areas apart from workers salaries should be stopped and accounts be frozen.'

The motion was seconded by the House minority leader Ahmed Tanko Maikatako.

In their various contributions, all the members supported the motion and the House resolved that the appointments were null and void and directed that all financial transactions that affect the development areas directly or indirectly be stopped.