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PDP, Lawmakers Tackle Lalong Over Council Dissolution

Following the desolation of fifteen Local Government Chairmen by Governor Simon Lalong government a group of sponsored PDP supporters storm the Plateau state house of Assembly complex to lodge their complaint. The House members who should have received the protesters with one voice are themselves divided on the matter along political lines In the beginning, the Plateau State House of Assembly took quiet some time to confirm the list of caretaker committee members that will lead the 17 Local Government Councils of the state.

Even so, there are still disagreements over the mode of the confirmation. While the legislators were making the rounds preparing to confirm or disown the list of Caretaker Committee chairpersons sent by the governor supporters of the People Democratic Party were all over the assembly complex waiting to hear from their 13 members who were busy with legislative business.

The House whose proceedings was held between 12:30 – 1:00 pm, witnessed the Speaker Rt. Hon. Peter Azi, communicating the content of the letter from the office of the State Governor Simon Lalong, intimating the house about the names of the chairmen, secretary and other members that constitutes the councils. Soon after reading the letter, of which no member has objected to its content, the Speaker pushed forward to put the matter into voice vote. There were many ayes than nays. The Speaker then raised and dropped the gavel to signify the acceptance of the House.

But there was noticeable disagreement among the PDP members. Commenting after the House proceedings, Deputy Speaker Hon. Yusuf Gagdi, said the PDP Caucus are not happy with the way the matter was handled. Though he said: “The power of the House of Assembly is the Presiding officer.” He however maintained that the right thing was not done on the dissolution of the councils, but, “they (the Governor), has already used the House to get what they want.” In his comment the House Majority leader Daniel Dem (PDP) said they had allowed the Speaker to read out the letter, as he insisted that they will kill the matter since it is in court.

“We said Mr. Speaker if you are insisting let us discuss it on the floor, don’t be too smart to say you will hit the gavel on the   table,” he added. Dem said the PDP caucus, “looked at what happened as unfortunate”. Hon. Nanlong Daniel however said that members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in the House will not “allow illegality,” to prevail in the state. Hon. Dem who said that the impasse rocking the Assembly over the dissolution of LGCs and the lists of caretaker committees sent to them by Governor Simon Lalong, at the premises of the State Height Court shortly after the state election petition tribunal has adjourned proceedings, must be addressed to the benefit of all.

He said the Governor had not sought for legislation of the house, prior to his dissolution, “though we will not take off his powers if any, on the dissolution.” The lawmaker said the Governor did not follow due process when he decided to dissolve the “elected executives and council members.

As law makers, we will not break the law, neither will we support it and it must be said that certain laws were not followed,” he added. Hon. Dem said the fact that every member of the House was served by a Federal High Court order restraining the Governor and any other person from dissolving the councils, until the matter is determined by it was enough reason to step the matter down. Even the Speaker, according to Dem had said: “We will not discuss the matter at on floor of the house just as the house speaker has once mentioned.”

He said the ousted council Chairmen had petitioned the House, but the Speaker vetoed the petition on the grounds that since the matter was in the court, the House would not discuss it; “But suddenly there came the lists from the Governor, saying we should discussed the issue of caretaker committees for the local Government Councils and the Speaker obliged” Governor Lalong had some weeks back dissolved the Democratic structures of the 15 Local Government Councils, adducing reasons of “monumental corruption in the councils.”

Though the ousted council chairmen are in the Federal High Court challenging the dissolutions of their councils, the Governor has also insisted that; “there is no going back on his decision.” For now the State Acting Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party; Chief Raymond Dabo and Governor Simon Lalong have continue to trade blame on the dissolution of the Local governments. Lalong has repeatedly said that he would not be distracted or hoodwinked into replying on issues which, according the Lalong they the People of Plateau State know about too well even though they are trying to white wash it with their Press Conference .

“No matter how hard the PDP try, the people are aware that the last administration’s maladministration, non-prioritization of projects and a lack of financial discipline are what have plunged the state into the current state of numerous uncompleted projects, huge salary and pension backlogs as well as a debt profile that is a nightmare to any leader.” According to a source who wishes to remain anonymous, “Democratic space allows for freedom of expression and PDP can afford to use that right to mislead only the gullible on the Plateau with their falsehoods.”

The PDP Acting Chairman has asked the to the Council Chairmen not to heed the directive to handover to their respective Directors of Personnel Management as directed by the governor. In furtherance to his directive, the Governor has directed Directors of Personnel Management in a meeting on Tuesday, July 7, to monitor and report back on the handing over to the Caretaker Committee Chairmen by the incumbents. He has further instructed the Police to ensure the recovery of all government property in the possession of the dissolved LG officials in the state. As the enforcement of the governor’s directive gets underway, the protesters may either shelve their protest and comply or tow the legal option with the Chairmen.

-Although Bayelsa State’s Governorship election is still five months away, Governor Seriake Dickson appears to have serious opposition even from within his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) against his second term ambition, writes Peterclaver Egbochue

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