Concern in Niger State as Governor, Deputy, Speaker, Other Government Officials Jet Off to Saudi Arabia for Hajj

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Niger State Governor Mohammed Umaru Bago, Deputy Governor Yakubu Garba, Speaker Barrister Abdulmalik Sarkin-Daji, and other top government officials have embarked on a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia, sparking concern and criticism from residents.

POLITICS NIGERIA reports that many commissioners and lawmakers have also travelled for the religious ritual.

The governor actually left the state on Monday about half of his cabinet members in a chartered plane, sources revealed.

The trip comes at a time when the state is grappling with the aftermath of a mining pit accident and ongoing security challenges.

The governor’s decision to travel without officially transmitting power to his deputy has raised questions about a potential constitutional crisis. Section 190 (1) of the 1999 Constitution states that the deputy governor shall act as governor whenever the governor is unable to discharge his duties.

Critics argue that the governor’s trip is an “abuse of democracy” and a “betrayal of trust”, given the state’s current challenges.

Sources say the Secretary to State Government (SSG), Alhaji Abubakar Usman, has been performing official government functions since Monday.

Meanwhile, political leaders and civil society groups have called out the governor’s decision, stating that it is wrong for key state officers to abandon the state without transmitting power in line with the Constitution.

Commenting on the issue, a former Head of Political Science Department at the University of Ilorin, Dr Mohammed Alada said, “With such development, governance will be at a standstill because the Constitution envisages where any of the three of them will take charge if such a situation comes up.

“The essence of that is to ensure continuity of governance and avoid a vacuum. There is a limit to the extent the deputy speaker can go. In fact, the Constitution did not make any provision for that office; they cannot be ruling from wherever they are, someone must be fully in charge,” he said.

Alada added: “When former President Yar’Adua died, Jonathan, who was formally acting, was sworn in as the substantive president. That is the kind of situation envisaged by the Constitution.

“God forbid, in a situation where the three of them did not return to the state, what will happen? It means it will be drifting without any definite direction”,

The Secretary to the State Government could not be contacted. However, when the governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Bologi Ibrahim, was reached via call, he simply said “Go and write anything you want to write. No problem,” before ending the call.