Hon. Alhassan Ado Doguwa represents Doguwa/Tudun Wada federal constituency of Kano State in the House of Representatives. In this interview with RUTH CHOJI, the new majority leader of the house refutes claims that members-elect were paid to vote for Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila as Speaker of the house
The governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Ganduje has been having a running battle with Emir of Kano before and after the elections and many believe it was that cold war that led to the creation of more emirates in the state. What is your take on this?
We have an elected governor in place, a man that was popularly elected. He is widely accepted within the nooks and cranny of the state, and I don’t think there is any tension in Kano State. Whoever knows Kano from time immemorial knows that, Kano is a very robust political platform. The creation of Emirate for instance is a long standing issue right from the 2nd republic when Governor Abubakar Rimi brought up the issue. These were initiatives that were informed by popular demand. Some of these Emirate were not created out of the blues. They are historical institutions that were there from time immemorial. In Rano Emirate, where I come from, Bayajidda of Daura Genealogy Can be traced from there.
The Byajidda dynasty started from Rano after the harvest. So, if you want to analyse the situation, my Emirate dates back to over 250years before the emergence of Kano Emirate, even before Jigawa was carved out of Kano State, we had Gumel Emirate and others. So, there have always been different Emirates in Kano but the only thing that kept us together was our religion. Kazaure was a distinct Emirate before they were carved out of Kano. Some of these Emirates were in existence before the Usman Danfodio jihad. I want people to understand that, the creation of Emirates has nothing to do with politics or vengeance. It was informed by people’s desire, the people who wanted these institutions rehabilitated. The governor also wants to bring the people close to governance, that is another reason why the Emirate were created.
These traditional institutions play a big role in security and so they have to be revived. We know how our communities used to be safe in the past when traditional rulers were given their role and power. Kano State is so large that most people have never seen their only Emir. Some get to see him once in their life time because of the wide gap between the Emir and the people, but with the Emirate, people can have access to their Emirs. I personally cannot remember when we saw Muhammadu Sanusi in my community. It has been about four to five years and if he has visited Doguwa, then it must have been once. In the last administration where we had a more respected Emir, the late Ado Bayero, he used to find it difficult to go round the state. I can tell you the number of times the late Emir visited my local government throughout his 50years on the throne was not more than 10-15 times. So, the state government now decided to decentralise the Emirship to make it easier and closer to the people.
But won’t the new Emirates bring additional burden on the state’s finances?
I think for those of us who knew what happened, there won’t be any additional burden because financing the Emirate was five per cent total budget to fall on the LGs. So, it’s not going to be a burden on the state government. It’s the same five per cent deduction that will be given to the Emirates. With the new Emirate now, you can see that, money will go round unlike when it goes to one hand alone. The state government has not created additional districts, so the only salary will be of the new Emirs but everything other thing remains the same.
Some also believe that these new Emirates will whittle down the powers of Emir Sanusi. What do you think?
I think if there is anything that will effect Emir Sanusi, it will only be psychological. Because he was a man that was in charge of the whole state as the ‘almighty’ Emir but with the new development, he only has 10 or 11 local governments to manage. Certainly this will effect his ego and there might be some emotional irritation. Some people are beginning to call him ‘the Emir of the metropolitan.
Can you say that the Kano State gubernatorial election was free and fair?
To me, it was free and fair. I am not in a position to say one party won and another lost because INEC did that. I believe that the issue of inconclusive elections was not peculiar to Kano State, so there is nothing bad about it. The election was concluded by the same process with which it was started and Ganduje won. You cannot stop the opposition from grumbling, the minority will have their say, but the majority must have its way.
Coming back to the House, some members have berated the outcome of the election that produced the speaker, Femi Gbajabiamilla. Would you say it was free and fair?
I was a party to that election and also participated in the movement that produced him. No matter what people say about it, it was free and fair. The losers will always say otherwise. I have been on the floor of the House of Representatives for the past 26years. I have been either within or part of it, I have seen elections of leadership and there was nothing different from what used to obtain in the past and what we did recently. One thing you may know is that, Femi’s election was like a continuation of what members wanted to achieve in 2015. People were angry in 2015 that our candidate did not win the speakership. So, this time, we closed rank and ensured that, there was no loophole that could be exploited. We did the necessary lobbying and talked to whoever needed to be talked to. This is an unprecedented development. We hear that some people shared money but I didn’t witness any sharing of money. The only money I know that was spent was for logistics, hotel, tickets and vehicles that took us round to visit the governor and the rest. I think it was the PDP governors that contributed money to check our agenda and I am sure they regretted it. Our party chairman, who was a former governor, knew all these things and so, he ensured that everywhere was protected. Nobody was paid to vote for Femi Gbajabiamilla. He won based on our conviction that he deserved it.
What is the new leadership going to do that will be different from the previous ones?
Having emerged from unprecedented circumstances, we will certainly do things differently. There will be a robust relationship between the executive and legislature but certainly not a rubber stamp legislature.
There are fears that the leadership of National Assembly that was endorsed by the presidency will be a stooge in their hands. Do you harbour such fears?
That will never happen. Femi has a legal background and he has practiced within and outside Nigeria. I don’t think he will allow himself to be a rubber stamp. Besides, the speaker is not on his own in the chamber, he will speak our voice. He cannot take decisions without consulting us and the members have to accept or agree before he takes any decision. No speaker will be a stooge in the hands of an external factor. He must work hand in hand with his colleagues. Anytime they begin to please the executive against the house’ decisions, then they will face the wrath of the members. We are not going to fight the executive but we have some basic constitutional responsibility that is different from the executive. We will do our oversight functions judiciously. The legislature of the 9th session is APC-dominated and so, the government will not have problems.