By Samuel Adebayo
Since candidates of the All Progressives Congress [APC] cleared all the contestable seats at the last general elections in Kwara State, the issue of who occupies the key political seats in the state has been generating lots of arguments and discordant tunes among stakeholders.
In lieu of this, political players from the 16 Local Government Areas of the state have been engaging in all forms of politicking, plotting and lobbying in order to secure seat of their choices.
Clamour for Kwara North candidate for the office of the Kwara State House of Assembly speaker has not subsided ever since Abdulrahman Abdulrasaq who hails from Kwara Central senatorial district of the state defeated his close rival, Abdulrasak Atunwa of the Peoples Democratic Congress [PDP], in the governorship race.
Some groups in the Northern district and elders from the Kwara South Senatorial District under the chairmanship of one Bamisaiye Ayeni have in many fora averred that in the interest of justice and fairness, a candidate from the North should be made helmsman of the 9th Assembly.
The argument of many people in Kwara generally is that, since the two foremost political offices have been occupied by Kwara Central and South respectively, the number three seat should automatically go to the North.
Though this might not hold sway considering the Nigerian constitution, political parties give room for zoning and according to APC arrangement, preference should be given to Kwara North for the speakership.
But, the major question on the lips of many people especially the electorate who voted massively to unseat the political dynasty of the political icon of the state, late Olusola Saraki, which has ruled for over 40 years, is, who will succeed Dr. Ali Ahmad as speaker, 9th Kwara State House of Assembly?
Among the notable lawmakers-elect who have signified interest to vie for the speakership seat are Muhammad Baba Solihu from Okuta/Yashikira constituency in Baruten Local Government, Maryam Adeniran from Essa/Shawo/Igbo-Idun Constituency, Abdullahi Halidu Danbaba representing Kaiama/Kemanji/Wojibe and Hon. Saheed Popoola who happens to be the only returning lawmaker- elect from Ojomu Balogun Constituency, among others.
At the moment, there seems to be an agreement for the nullification of candidature of honourable- elect who is not from Kwara North,a development that is gradually making Danbaba the cynosure for the seat.
The question again is, why the choice of Danbaba?
Lots of potentions and political antecedent of Danbaba have aligned him in the race for the speakership above his colleague. Following his political history, it’s on record that the Kaiama born politician has no corruption stains.
The man is also considered very competent and eloquent having served his community and the government in many capacities.
Till now, Danbaba is the only hopeful gunning for the seat who has displayed high level of intellectual blueprint on how to run the House to achieve maximum developmental feats that will complement the goals and plans of the new government of the APC in the state.
It is worthy of note that Danbaba, during the last poll, was among those that made headlines for efforts that rescued Kwara North from the snare of PDP and delivered it 100 percent to the APC.
Danbaba, whose Masters in Political Science is in view, is a die – hard APC member who resigned from the former governor’s cabinet as Special Assistant on Non-Governmental Affairs to serve people of his constituency .
It was on record that he facilitated many projects even when the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki was the state governor.
Stating his speakership’s key mandate in a recent chat with the media, Danbaba stated that he will focus on ensuring effective work synergy with the executive arm of government, ensure critical scrutiny and timely passage of the annual appropriation bills, make the House accessible to the electorate, for petitions and developmental ideas and initiatives as well as granting prompt response to matters of public interests.
“I long to see a transparent and accountable, well strengthened Assembly, that will provide leadership that serves as the voice of the masses and stand as a bridge between the executive and the electorate, hence, free from the executive or other form of external influence, as serious attention shall be given to bills presented by members, individuals, groups or organisations,” he said.
He added that an Assembly under his watch will enact people – oriented laws for good governance in Kwara State, evolve parliamentary instrumentalities in over sighting ministries, departments and agencies, and will give desired support to all standing and ad-hoc committees in carrying out their statutory obligations; placing high premium on training of members to enhance their performance, as well as paying attention to the welfare of parliamentary staff.
A former chieftain of the PDP who spoke on the condition of anonymity posited that the new state governor needs persons like Danbaba who is more of technocrat to work with.
He noted that Danbaba has better knowledge than many of his colleagues who were elected into the House because he served in the National Assembly during his NYSC days, saying people should stop routing for the returning member- elect but integrity and unprecedented records should be considered.
Meanwhile, a Coalition of Kwara North Groups (CKNG) has urged the only returning member of the House, Hon Saheed Popoola to withdraw his speakership ambition for peace and fairness to prevail in the new government.
CKNG, the umbrella body of various groups in Kwara North Senatorial District, in a statement jointly signed by its Chairman, Comrade Musa Idris Buko and Media and Publicity Secretary, Comrade Aliyu Bala asked Popoola to toe the path of honour by rescinding what they described as his inordinate ambition.
It added that, “Facts abound to show, not only in the state but also National Assembly, that legislative leadership is not anchored on experience alone. First time legislators can be, and had been Senate Presidents, and Speakers of the Federal and state Assemblies.
“We definitely do not want to join issues with the people of Kwara South, because there are many who support and stand for justice, equity, and fairness. However, does it not prick the conscience of Hon. Saheed Popoola, that the Deputy Governor, the Minister of Information and the party Chairman, despite being of Kwara South origin, still wants to be the Speaker of Kwara State House of Assembly? Kwara is and will continue to be for all.”
Brief Profile of Danbaba
Danbaba was the Special Assistant on Non-governmental Affairs to the immediate past Governor of Kwara State till wr2018. The position he relinquished to join the Kwara 2019 revolution despite being lured with 10million cash supposedly being a part of a contract, the money he refunded without spending a dime from it.
Similarly, he served as the Director of Youth Mobilization, APC 2015 Governorship campaign office, Mandate 2015, and earlier, was the Local Government Committee Secretary; Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Local Government Executive Committee Election 2007, and at same period served as the Local Government Collating Officer 2007 General Elections, he was a state Delegate PDP state congress 2007.
In the 2011 General Elections, Danbaba was the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) House of Assembly flag bearer for Kaiama/ Kemanji /Wojibe state constituency.
Sometime in 2016, Danbaba was also the National Secretary, Kaiama Development Association (KDA), during which he played active roles in solving the community challenges. He also served as the Special Adviser to the Council Chairman on Legislative Matters 2004-2007. He was an Administrative Officer, Kaiama Local Government Council, Kaiama in 2003.
Dating back to his early school days, At Islamiya Primary School, Kaiama, he was the Social Prefect of the 1988 set. At the secondary school level, he was the Green House captain.
Subsequently, in 1996, Danbaba ventured into students unionism, a struggle for improved welfare of students and educational development of Kaiama Local Government. He was the Public Relation officer, National Association of Kaiama Students (NAKS) in 1996, and was also the National President in 1997 and 1998 respectively when he struggled and fought for bursary and project allowance for all students of Kaiama origin, organized lectures, symposiums and different academic competitions for and among the students, which he exhibited same level of competency at the Usman Danfodiyo University and during his National Youth Service Corps, respectively.