Vacuum in Jere Council: As Borno Government Fails To Swear-in Vice As New Chairman

It has been 12 days since the former chairman passed away

By Abdulkareem Haruna

It is not clear if vacuum is allowed under the local government system in Borno state, but it thus appear that no one is in charge of the council since the death of Honorable Umar Gujja Tom, the former executive Council chairman, who passed away in Abuja about two weeks ago.

Before the return of democracy at the 27 local government areas in Borno state on December 23/2020 – a credit that must be given to Governor Babagana Zulum – the state had experienced the era of caretaker councils for more than 12 years. The reason for the serial inauguration of the six months tenured caretaker councils was to avoid the existence of vacuum in the local government administration.

Recently, a vice chairman has to assume office as substantive (or acting) executive chairman in Gubio local government council because his principal who was elected in 2020 was incapacitated by illhealth.

Sadly, 12 days ago, a very gentleman politician, Gujja Tom died on August 21 and his office became vacant. Since his tenure is not in a caretaker basis, he is expected to be replaced by his, equally elected, vice chairman, in the person of Lawan Barma.

According to legal luminaries, the death or incapacitation of an elected executive officer – be it President, Governor or local government chairman ought to be followed, immediately, by the swearing in of the deputy or vice even before the deceased is buried.

Surprisingly, late Gujja passed away on the August 21, 2022, yet his office still remain vacant 12 days after – thereby creating an unprecedented vacuum in the administration of Jere Council.

Sources familiar with the affairs in Jere said the vice chairman has not been accorded any form of recognition or officialdom in the capacity of the new leader to steer the local administration for the next 4 months or thereabout.

The Humanitarian Times has observed that the Vice Chairman, Mr Barma, who is the number one ‘designated survivor’ to the chairmanship seat of Jere council has not made any official complaint whatsoever. Perhaps he is doing so in respect to his late boss with whom, it was said, he had a good working relation. But what Honorable Barma must understand is that the law does not work with emotions. He is the next chairman of Jere, and he should be seen to rise to the occasion and ensure he is sworn in so that he can deliver the dividends of democracy within the remaining days if his two years tenure.

Governor Zulum, a man popular for his respect for law and due process, must not allow the present vacuum in the Jere Council to smear his hard-earned reputation. He should order the ministry for local government and emirate affairs to officiate the immediate swearing-in of the vice chairman to enable him assume his God-given office as the new chairman of the local government area.

Failure to remove the vacuum and emplace democratic governance through the swearing-in of the vice chairman as the new chairman of Jere may lead to serious political crises that may come with enormous consequences.

For now the Constitution and the law has been breached in Jere local government – and the only way to remedy it is for the state government to do the needful..

Notable personalities like Rep Ahmed Satomi, Hon. Aji Kolo Khadi, Hon. Sainna Buba, Adamu Lawan-Zaufanjimba, and other fringe appointees should wake up from their slumber or a feigned copy of it to right this grave mishandling of the provision of the Constitution by ensuring that the right thing is done.

A stitch in time saves nine.

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