Former Deputy Governor James Bala Ngilari of Adamawa state, on October 8, was dramatically returned to power, this time, not as deputy governor but full governor. His return, through a court process, set the state’s political musical chairs clanging again, rather frightfully.
Ngilari took over from acting governor Alhaji Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri, who engineered the impeachment of former substantive governor Murtala Nyakoin July and then vacated the speakership of the state House of Assembly to become acting governor. He was the candidate to win the October 10 bye election until the court decision on Ngilari aborted the poll.
Now, Fintiri has returned to the House as Speaker but is challenging the decision of the Abuja High Court that said he could not be acting governor. How he found himself in that position is that the House contrived Ngilari’s resignation as Deputy Governor ahead of Nyako’s impeachment. When that happened, Fintiri exploited the provision of the 1999 Constitution which says that in the absence of the governor and his deputy, the House Speaker should take office as acting governor.
However, Ngilari, himself a lawyer, challenged his so-called resignation in court and won.In his judgement, Justice Adeniyi observed that the purported resignation letter, upon which Ngilari was ousted from office, was written at a time when Nyakowas still governor, stressing that the letter ought to have gone through Nyako, instead of the Speaker or the state house of Assembly. That failure to follow the constitutional channel rendered the purported letter “invalid, null and void”.
Specifically, the court, declared that going by the combined provisions of Section 306 (1), (2) and (5) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), “the plaintiff , as Deputy Governor of Adamawa State, did not resign his office by addressing a letter of resignation dated 15th July, 2014 to the first defendant (Speaker, Adamawa State House of Assembly)…It is the opinion of this court that all the documents purportedly indicating that the plaintiff tendered his resignation letter are of doubtful origin, full of inconsistencies and are hereby discountenanced”.
With Ngilari’s elevation as governor, has Adamawa seen an end to political instability? Not likely. The former governor is challenging in court his impeachment by a House that showed its true hand as one working with a script written by PDP, bent on exacting its pound of flesh from Nyako who dumped the party for the opposition party APC, without taking his deputy and the House along. In this, he showed shocking political naivety. Besides, he was a constant thorn in the flesh of President GoodluckJonathan who actively encouraged his impeachment.
But Nyako hopes to be returned to office through the court. And so does Fintiri. In other words, the musical chairs in Adawawa will keep clanging away for some time to come. This is not good for a state in the grip of an insurgency. Without an effective political leadership, it is no surprise that the insurgent Boko Haram sect is taking more territory in Adamawa than in Borno and Yobe, the other two states worse hit by the insurgency.