Death And Politics Of The Unity Bar; Needless Lobbying By Gambo M. Yakubu
It has come to our knowledge that there are intense lobbying going on by the Vice Chairman of the Unity Bar to take over as substantive Chairman of the Branch and this atrocious lobbying has the active collaboration of some senior members from the South East in express contravention of the Constitutional zoning arrangement of the NBA.
It is equally disheartening horrible, disrespectful and a dishonour to the memory of our late Chairman that just a day after her unfortunate and untimely passing, these people could be so unfeeling, cold-hearted, caring only about their vain ambition and clandestinely plotting to take over through the back door.
Section 1.2 (a) of the Second Schedule of the NBA constitution provides for the election of officers into three geographical zones namely Northern Zone, Eastern Zone and Western Zone. 1.2 (d) further provides that “where a position is zoned to any particular geographical zone, that position shall be rotated and held in turn by different groups and/or sections in the geographical zone”
It is instructive to note that even before these provision was enacted, the Elders of the Unity Bar had always practised rotational Chairmanship in the FCT. However, these provisions we have adopted and applied in all our elections with particular regards to the office of the Chairman. Section 14(1) succinctly states WHERE AN OFFICER OF THE BRANCH RESIGNS OR IS REMOVED FROM OFFICE (a) THE POSITION SHALL BE HELD IN AN ACTING CAPACITY BY THE VICE OR ASSISTANT IF HE OR SHE IS QUALIFIED FOR THE POSITION; AND (b) A BY-ELECTION SHALL BE HELD TO FILL THE POSITION FOR THE REMAINDER OF TERM PROVIDED THAT THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MAY APPOINT ANY QUALIFIED FINANCIAL MEMBER OF THE BRANCH TO FILL SUCH VACANCY IN THE INTERIM FOR A PERIOD NOT EXCEEDING TWO MONTHS PENDING THE BY-ELECTION.
Flowing from the above provision therefore, it’s clear the constitution is silent on death but we can reasonably infer therefore that once an officer dies he or she has been REMOVED from office according to Section 14 (2) and consequently there has to be a by-election to fill the office and the qualification to contest in the by-election restricted to only members who are from the geographical zone of the demised officer to complete the reminder of the years left. This clearly and unequivocally disqualifies the Branch Vice Chairman save she can prove she is from the North.
The argument by her supporters that she ought to takeover naturally because she’s the vice chairman and the crass comparison with national politics e.g. the President Yar’adua/Jonathan situation is ridiculous and not well thought out. This situation and that other are not on all fours. This, unlike the Jonathan case is not A JOINT TICKET. Everyone contested separately and in this case the Vice Chairman contested alone for the office she currently occupies because she was not qualified to contest for the office of the Chairman, since she is not from the Northern geopolitical zone.
A RECENT PRECEDENT
We were all witnesses to recent happenings in our branch that led to the unfortunate crisis which split up our branch and led to the establishment of a splinter group. Recall at the time, the office of the Chairman was duly zoned to the South East geopolitical zone. That election produced Victor Abasi-akan Ekim as Chairman but because of the protracted problems and dragged-out negative controversies that attended that election the NEC in it’s wisdom prevailed on both Chairmen to step down.
Victor Ekim respectfully bowed out. Notice that Tunde Oyefeso was Vice Chairman at the time but he wasn’t asked to step in as Chairman to finish the remainder of Ekim’s tenure because he’s from the South West and not the South East geopolitical zone and so it would have been unreasonable and impermissible to do so.
The Elders then in their wisdom got Princess Chukwuani from the South East geopolitical zone to finish the unexpired term that was zoned to zone and this enjoyed the express approval of everyone. Why is the same South East today fighting very hard to deny and shortchange the Northern geopolitical zone from completing their own term especially as they will be having their due share of two years in about 9 months time.
We can also extend these examples to what happened in the Senate from 1999 to 2007 where PDP zoned the Office of the President of the Senate to the South East. It remained there for 8 years. Each time a Senate President was removed, the Deputy never took over. Instead another from same zone replaced him. Ditto for that of the office of the Deputy Senate President which was zoned to the North Central. When Haruna Abubakar from Nasarawa resigned, Mantu from same zone was elected to replace him.
At the House, when Speaker Patricia Etteh resigned from office, her Deputy didn’t become Speaker. Dimeji Bankole from her South West geopolitical zone was elected Speaker in her Stead. Once an office has been zoned, it remains so until the term expires.
The current inglorious lobbying even makes the hackles rise when considered against the backdrop that the current executive is already over peopled by about six members from the South east, but the only real one the North has and which was a munificent bequest by the constitution, they have had their eyes fixated on it and now plan to take it through means of chicanery.
If the Vice Chairman was sure she was qualified she would just relax and let our Chairman be interred and afterwards the constitution would unequivocally speak for her and all this desperate and surreptitious lobbying would be unnecessary, but she understands that both the constitutional and political solution is not in her favour because the remainder of this current term is protected by the constitution.
We are also not unaware of her subtle moves to warm and insinuate herself into the hearts of some elders of the branch by her recent advertisement of her “achievements” which hitherto has been blurred and cloudy. Come to think of it, how can a Chairman even preside over an election that is going to produce a Chairman from his or her zone? That has never happened and we consider that inappropriate and objectionable.
The Northern elders are wise enough to handle their affairs. In the last election, many candidates declared intentions to run for the office of Chairman, but the elders stepped in and spoke to them and at the end of the day, achieved a consensus. We are confident that they will also resolve this issue.
Let notice therefore be served that all the attempts by some group of greedy people to shortchange and ambush the Northern geopolitical zone through stratagem and skulduggery to untimely capture the office of the Chairman of the Unity Bar will be highly resisted by its Northern members. We are already talking with our Elders and other Senior Members from our zone. It is therefore in our collective interest as a branch to avert further crisis by allowing the right thing to be done. We also know that there are some equally reasonable voices from the South East who have distanced themselves from this disreputable stance and I use this opportunity to salute their courage and wisdom.
A stitch in time they say, saves nine. Let wisdom guide us… May God bless the Unity Bar and and may the wonderful soul of our sister, our Chairman rest in eternal peace.
Gambo M. Yakubu writes from Abuja.
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