House Speakers Take Charge in Kogi, Bayelsa, 3 Others

290112F03.Nestor-Binabo.jpg - 290112F03.Nestor-Binabo.jpg
Bayelsa State’s Acting Governor, Chief Nestor Binabo
By Chuks Okocha, Mohammed Aminu, Segun James, Matthew Onah, Jude Okwe and Shola Oyeyipo
A day after the Supreme Court ordered them to take over governance in their states following the sacking of the governors, speakers of the Houses of Assembly in Adamawa, Bayelsa, Cross River, Kogi  and Sokoto States, now sworn in as acting governors, Saturday began asserting their authority.
Without further ado, some of them have already started tinkering with machinery of government by replacing some senior political appointees, a move that may put the acting governors on a collision course with the Peoples Democratic Party, which warned Saturday that they were not expected to make any major changes.
In Bayelsa State, the acting governor, Chief Nestor Binabo, announced the removal of the Secretary to the State Government, Gideon Ekeuwei, former Governor Timipre Sylva’s chief of staff, Mr. Samuel Ogbuku, and the chief press secretary to the former governor, Mr. Doife Ola.
His Adamawa State counterpart, Alhaji Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri, in a similar move that rankled the leadership of the PDP, dropped the SSG for a former Action Congress of Nigeria governorship aspirant, Professor Abdullahi Liman Tukur.
However, appointees of former Cross River State governor, Senator Liyel Imoke, were luckier than some of their counterparts in Bayelsa and Adamawa States, as the acting governor, Hon. Larry Odey has made no move to upset the apple cart.
In Sokoto State, the speaker, Alhaji Muhammad Lawali Zayyana, who could not be immediately inaugurated on Friday, took his oath of office at 9.25 am Saturday as the acting governor.
The power tussle in Kogi, which had produced two governors in the wake of the Supreme Court judgement was resolved Saturday, as Captain Idris Wada of the PDP who was sworn in alongside his running mate, Yomi Awoniyi, following his victory in the December 3 governorship election, eventually stepped down for the speaker, Hon. Abdulahi Bello.
While Wada was sworn-in as governor on Friday by the President, Customary Court, Justice Shuaib Ibrahim Atadoga, around 3 pm, the state chief judge, Justice Nasir Ajannah, two hours later, swore in Bello.
Binabo, it was learnt, arrived for his first day in office early Saturday, a situation that caught some of the staff of the Bayelsa State Government House by surprise.
The previous day, the acting governor, shortly  after he was sworn in, had proceeded to the state House of Assembly to hand over to his deputy before returning to the Government House for a meeting with some top government officials,  led by Ekeuwei  before leaving for home at about 10.00 pm.
Binabo, however, Saturday announced the appointment of Prof. Millionaire Abowei as SSG, Mr. Austin Adigio as his chief of staff and Ebi Avi as chief press secretary.
In Adamawa State, Fintiri, besides naming a new SSG, also appointed Mr. Solomon Kumangar, national treasurer of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, as his press secretary.
The appointment of Tukur as the SSG was seen by many as part of plans to dismantle the structures of the former governor, Admiral Murtala Nyako, the PDP candidate in the forthcoming governorship election slated for February 4.
Fintiri, in a broadcast, immediately after his swearing in, had appealed for calm, saying he was going to ensure a level playing field for all.
Already, Yola, the state capital, looked different with the heavy presence of security operatives deployed in strategic locations, particularly the Government House and the state House of Assembly.
Odey, in Cross River, however, said his administration was a continuation of that of Imoke’s and directed aides of his predecessor to remain at their duty posts, pending when a new governor is elected for the state.
He said in a broadcast following the Supreme Court judgment that removed Imoke and four others from office, that the lot fell on him to steer the ship of state.
According to him, his primary duty as the interim governor “is to carry out governance of the state, stabilise the polity, and prepare the enabling environment for the conduct of a free and fair election as will be directed by the Independent National Electoral Commission.”
He promised to adhere to this programme strictly, promising that his government has no intention of altering the machinery of governance “by making changes as this can only be done when it may become necessary,” adding, “all appointees of government, particularly members of the State Executive Council,  are to continue to carry out their duties as usual.
“All ongoing projects and programmes are to continue as scheduled. Consultants and executing ministries, departments and agencies are to ensure that all works are executed according to specification and timeline.
“We will not hesitate to bring to book anyone engaged in any act capable of disrupting the planned programmes of this administration. We will remain focused on our commitment to serving the people.”
Expectations of leadership crisis in Kogi following the swearing in of two governors, however, did not materialise yesterday as Bello took full control of government machinery in the state.
It was gathered that security aides initially attached to Wada and Awoniyi after their swearing-in were withdrawn immediately Justice Ajannah inaugurated Bello.
The spokesperson for the newly sworn-in governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Amoka, said the time has come for every indigene to join hands with the acting governor to carry out the task ahead.
It was also learnt that the former governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris, who was believed to have masterminded Wada’s and Awo-niyi’s inauguration, finally vacated Lugard House, the seat of government in Lokoja Saturday.
THISDAY findings revealed that Idris started moving his personal effects out of the Government House at about 2 am, Saturday morning.
A Hiace bus with registration number KGGH 109 moved the erstwhile governor’s belongings to an unidentified location within the state capital.
It was also gathered that at about 3.30 pm, a convoy of about 15 vehicles, which included the Hiace bus, two Coaster buses with registration numbers EU 616 ABC and AG 589 LKJ and a Peugeot wagon drove out of the Government House with the rest of his belonging.
The former governor later drove out in a Lexus Jeep, which had its registration number covered.
His wife, Hajia Zainab Idris, was said to have thrown a party at the Government House Saturday for an unknown reason.
Sources said Idris received scores of visitors until when he vacated the Government House.
Wada reportedly returned to the Government House at about 1am after he left. He was said to have been part of those who stayed back with Idris until he left the Government House Saturday.
Wada’s father, Ejiga Wada, whose age was put between 102 and 103, was also present.
Following the former governor’s departure, only four riot policemen were left as security for the acting governor while officers of the State Security Service stayed behind in the Government House to ensure that Idris vacated the official residence on time so that Bello could move in.
In Sokoto, the acting governor, shortly after he was sworn in by the state chief judge, Justice Aisha Sani Dahiru, called for understanding from all for the progress of the state.
Zayyana also urged political parties to conduct their campaigns for the forthcoming governorship election with decorum and pledged to ensure fairness to all.
He warned the youths not to allow themselves to be used by unscrupulous individuals to foment trouble, as the government would not tolerate any breach of the peace.
“We appeal to peace loving citizens of the state to go about their normal activities without any fear or hindrance. We should not forget that we are one family bound by the same destiny whose aim is the progress of the state,” he said.
Meanwhile, the PDP Saturday advised all the five acting governors not to embark on any major structural changes in their states, as they are merely to hold forth until the election of substantive governors.
The party also reaffirmed the candidacy of winners of its governorship primaries in Sokoto, Adamawa, Cross River and Bayelsa in the forthcoming governorship elections that INEC had previously slated for the states.
PDP’s national organising secretary, Uche Secondus, said the acting governors in the five affected states should not rock the boat by tampering with the machinery of government.
THISDAY gathered that the PDP National Working Committee might summon the acting governor of Adamawa State to a meeting in Abuja this week for consultation over the appointment of a new SSG.
A source said the same problem was encountered when the former speaker, James Barka, was the acting governor of the state when Nyako’s election was annulled and a bye-election conducted.
The party’s national legal adviser, Chief Olusola Oke, reiterated that the decision of the Supreme Court would not affect the governorship primary elections in the affected states, as they were conducted in line with the guidelines of the party and supervised by INEC.
“Our governorship primary elections in Sokoto, Adamawa, Bayelsa and Cross River States were not an issue before the Supreme Court and therefore the governorship candidates elected in the various primaries in the affected states stand,” he stressed.
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