GOMBE: NEW HOUSE, OLD MEMBERS
BY JOHN BULUS
PRIOR to its inauguration on June 14, 2011, there were already mixed feelings about the technical competence and independence of the Fourth Gombe State House of Assembly.
According to political observers and pundits, the last Assembly was largely seen as either an appendage or a branch of the Executive arm of government in the state.
The House, which worked with immediate past governor of the state, Alhaji Mohammad Danjuma Goje, was incidentally dominated by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) with 23 out of the 24 members.
The loner who represented Kaltungo West Constituency on the platform of the Action Congress, AC, then, Duadu Usman Sule whose voice was constantly drowned in the stream of voices of PDP members, later ditched the party and joined the PDP bandwagon, leading to matters being handled as a family affair in the House.
Those who were in the know of the House proceedings said that bills from the executive arm were accorded unusual express consideration. It was such that the bills were passed the same day upon arrival to the House with little or no debate on the general principles of the bills. Again, members hardly sponsored individual bills, and even when some did, it lacked exhaustive, logical and analytical debate on the good of the bill.
The reason for this, Vanguard gathered, was the inability of many members to express themselves well in the Lingua franca and Legislative language which is English. Noticeably, those who managed to speak always got the aspersions of the public as their expressions were always dented with grammatical blemishes. Only a few persons, who have lofty educational pedigree thrived, just as some members, sources said, always dozed off even during plenary sessions.
It was on that note that the Third Assembly lapsed giving way for the Fourth House.
Of a truth, Vanguard checks revealed that a worst case scenario is rife in the Fourth Assembly because most old members returned, meaning that the cycle of legislative ignorance and mediocrity may have to endure for a long time. To many people, such lawmakers have become known lackeys to the executive am and cannot 'bark' at it.
While this argument holds, the emergence of Inuwa Garba as Speaker of the present House ran at variance with the expectations of so many House members and indigenes of the state.
Inuwa Garba was the Deputy Speaker of the last assembly. He is unarguably a young man with so much enthusiasm to do his job, but the enthusiasm, many say, has given way for extreme display of youthful exuberance, non-charlance, arrogance and untoward misdemeanors that give infantile convulsions to many ears.
In the estimations of many people, during his days as Deputy Speaker, Garba carried himself in a manner that tended to lower every individual before him, and consequently, many have their reservations about him. But then, the 'smart' politician understands the political terrain he operates. He knows the feelings of even the staff of the Assembly about him and Vanguard learnt that no sooner had he taken his oath of office than he held a meeting with every members of the Assembly staff where he explained what informed his behavior and pleaded that they eschew the perception about him and give him the needed support for a glorious Fourth Assembly.
Another issue that tickles the ears is his educational pedigree and richness to lead the House. Garba 'claims' he holds an avalanche of Diplomas, but many reasoned that even with his Diplomas, he has always been caught in many linguistic webs that contradicted the claims or the assumption that he is genuinely fit for the job of a Speaker.
However, Garba's case is not far from being the same with his Deputy, Musa Kawu Biri. Checks showed that he is only armed with a certificate. Again, sources say he hardly speaks in the House. For instance, it was only about three times that he seconded motions in the life of the last assembly as he never moved a motion or sponsored any individual bill.
To lend an affirmative credence to the fears of many, the process that led to Garba and Biri's emergence as both Speaker and Deputy respectively, unfortunately, smacked a cord of imposition on the members. Both men were selected and accepted by the members against their choice. There was no form of election or voting even when the Clerk of the House, Alhaji Atiku asked for further nomination of candidates for the positions, no member nominated and so, the duo became the new helmsmen of the House.
This was against the will of those who were adjudged competent and technically equipped to do the job. But sources disclosed that there were high_wire intrigues and manipulations in the PDP that threw decorum and merit to the winds via a zoning concept that suddenly cropped up among the local governments two days to the inauguration of the House.
But Garba is not in anyway perturbed by any apparent external feelings. As far as the state enjoys democracy dividends via the laws passed by the House, it does not matter what anybody says about them. That was the view he shared with Journalists after the valedictory session of the last Assembly, recently.
'If you see the laws we have passed, it is what is being used by the Executive Arm of Government to achieve all that is on the ground', he said.
Indeed, with the melodrama in the House, many political analysts have come to ponder the quality legislations that would emanate from the second arm of government, submitting that it could only mar the dignity and reputation of the House before the members of the public.
While many wondered why the Governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambvo would allow mediocrity to reign in the House, others feared that, that might be his subtle calculation to have a smooth run for his government. By this, it means that the Fourth House might still be another rubber stamp of the executive arm.
But then, this is heavily dependent upon the dispositions of the Congress for Progressive Change, , CPC's members in the House. Interestingly, unlike the last Assembly, the present one has four members from the opposition party. It is however left to be seen what becomes of the House as the regime gathers momentum in the months ahead.