DRAMA IN ABH ASSEMBLY OVER CHIEF WHIP ELECTION
At the Hall Assembly Meeting which held at FCR on Saturday, 10th June, 2022, Bye Elections were conducted to fill offices of the Deputy Hall Chairperson, Information Minister, Sports’ Minister and Floor Representatives of floors which were yet to be represented. There was also a lengthy debate in the House concerning Hon Nnamdi Chikere’s petition demanding that the cancellation of the election at the Inaugural Meeting which brought him in as Chief Whip be reversed.
At the Inaugural Meeting which held two weeks prior to the last Assembly meeting, Honourables were sworn in and nominations for Elections into offices within the Assembly were taken. For the office of the Chief Whip, Hon. Nnamdi Chikere was the sole nominee. Therefore, he ran unopposed and mustered 9 out of 15 votes of the Assembly Members. The election was by show of hands.
However, Hon Nnamdi Chikere was declared “not elected” by the Presiding Officer- the Speaker of the immediate past Assembly; explaining that he needed two-thirds of the votes of the House to be elected into office.
The house proceeded to elect people into the offices of the Clerk and the Deputy Speaker and then came back to the office of the Chief Whip. Nominations for this office were taken again. Hon Obeya nominated Hon Babalola. Hon Nwokwu who earlier nominated Hon Chikere refused to nominate him again. Hon Chikere attempted nominating himself but the presiding officer said he couldn’t. Hon Chikere insisted that he could nominate himself.
Hon Obeya got up to say that he actually could nominate himself. Hon Obeya, who had the misconception that Hon Chikere had 7 votes which was less than a simple majority, also intended to “correct” that the honourable lost the election not because he did not have two-thirds but that he did not get a simple majority.
He was then corrected that Hon Chikere in fact had 9 votes, which was a simple majority. This means he won the first election, going by the provisions of the constitution.
At this point, it was either Hon Obeya withdrew his nomination of Hon Babalola or the whole process was reconducted. However, Hon Obeya refused to withdraw his nomination. There was a bit of controversy in the house. While all that was going on, Hon Babalola read a portion of the constitution out which reads “Elections of the HEC and hall assembly shall be by secret ballot”. This was interpreted to mean that the whole voting process which was done by show of hands was invalid and so was cancelled. The entire process for all offices was then started again.
At this time, Hon Atere nominated Hon Babalola. The election held and Hon Babalola defeated Hon Chikere by a narrow margin of one vote. Hon Chikere was not pleased with this and so protested that the election should not have been by secret ballot.
Hon Chikere wrote a letter of appeal to the House to protest all that transpired at the Inaugural Meeting vis a vis the Chief Whip Election. This letter was read out during the last Assembly Meeting. “It is unconstitutional to invalidate a duly constituted electoral process and I urge us to the do the needful and uphold the supremacy of the constitution of our Great Hall,” he said in his 5-page letter.
He demanded that his mandate be restored to him as the duly elected Chief Whip of the ABH Assembly. He also said Hon Babalola’s interpretation of the constitution which led to the rerun was “nonsensical” and that the rerun itself was “unconstitutional” because no procedural motion was moved for secret ballots. He also accused the house of having held the constitution in contempt.
This sparked a stormy debate on the floor of the House as both Honourables and observers read out portions of the constitution to decipher what exactly its stance concerning the issue was.
After arguing back and forth, the Speaker, Hon Bazuaye, requested that motions be moved going forward. An honourable moved a motion for the results of the rerun to be upheld; the motion was seconded by another and the motion stood. Hon Chikere moved a counter-motion for the first election which elected him as Chief Whip to be upheld. This motion could not stand as no Honourable seconded it. The House therefore decided to uphold the results of the rerun.
Hon Chikere did not hesitate to express his disappointment and condemn the decision made by the House. He said this was a bad omen for Nigeria. He said this showed that there was no hope for the Country as members of the House had proved themselves to be worse versions of the bad leaders Nigeria presently has. “Who then are the leaders of tomorrow?”, he asked and took his seat.
The house moved to the session of the Bye Elections to fill vacant spaces for both executive and legislative offices. Hon. Chikere and some observers who had earlier sided with him maintained their stance against the voting process, asserting that it should be done by show of hands and not the use of secret ballots.
Candidates for the three executive offices which were vacant- Deputy Hall Chairperson, Information Minister and Sports’ Minister- filled the House in with their plans for the tenure. Miss Azeezat Salawudeen (MBBS 2K18) was elected as the Deputy Hall Chairperson; Miss Esther Subuloye (BDS 2K19), winning against Miss Angela Edhere (MBBS 2K21), as the Information Minister and Mr Monsuru Tijani (MBBS 2K18) as the Sports Minister. ABH Press congratulates them and wishes them success as they serve the Hall.