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NASS’ Impeachment threat: Between troubleshooting and mischief-making

By Seye Olumide (Ibadan), Lawrence Njoku, (Enugu), Azimazi Momoh Jimoh and John Akubo (Abuja) 
31 July 2022   |   4:20 am
• Path To Collaboration Not Exhausted, Says Omo-Agege • Senators Peeved By Buhari’s Failure On Security –Adeyemi • Lawmakers Unserious–Babatope • Indication Of Buhari’s Failure–Uwazuruike What would the impeachment of a President, who has just 10 months to complete his term, achieve? Have the federal lawmakers exhausted all avenues for a productive synergy with the…
Nigeria Senate

Nigeria Senate President Ahmad Lawan. Photo/facebook/TopeBrown/NigerianSenate

• Path To Collaboration Not Exhausted, Says Omo-Agege
• Senators Peeved By Buhari’s Failure On Security –Adeyemi
• Lawmakers Unserious–Babatope
• Indication Of Buhari’s Failure–Uwazuruike

What would the impeachment of a President, who has just 10 months to complete his term, achieve? Have the federal lawmakers exhausted all avenues for a productive synergy with the Presidency before waiving the impeachment flag?

    
Those were some of the questions that trailed the six-week ultimatum handed down by members of the National Assembly (NASS) to President Muhammadu Buhari to address the spiralling insecurity in the country.
  
Expectedly, mixed reactions from Nigerians, especially Senators and other stakeholders have trailed the lawmakers’ threat to impeach the President, even as the Senators are sharply divided on the matter.  
   
It could be recalled that some senators, last Wednesday, stormed out of plenary in protest against Senate President Ahmad Lawan’s failure to make public their resolution from a closed-door meeting, where they had resolved to issue a six-week ultimatum after which they will issue impeachment notice against the President over insecurity.
    
Attempt to raise the motion to that effect on the Senate floor by the minority leader Senator Philip Aduda was turned down by Senate President Ahmed Lawan earlier, which compelled some Senators to stage a walk-out.
    
But, Deputy President of Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege, while faulting the impeachment option, stated that communication mechanism between the National Assembly and the Presidency has not been fully explored or exhausted.
    
As one of the floor functionaries of the upper legislative chamber, Omo-Agege, who belongs to the governing All Progressives Congress (APC), argued that the move was wrong, “because the National Assembly, particularly the Senate had other means of discussing with the executive arm of government and getting it to address issues other than impeachment.”
  
Speaking through his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yomi Odunuga, Omo-Agege told The Guardian that it was wrong to rush the issue of impeachment without exhausting all channels of communication between the Senate and the President.
    
While admitting that the issue of increasing spate of insecurity is germane and serious, the Deputy Senate President said everyone in the Senate, including him had expressed worries on the matter during Senate plenaries.
   
His words: “Impeachment is an extreme measure usually taken when all communication mechanisms and options between the Presidency and the National Assembly had been exhausted. In this case, we are yet to exhaust these processes.”
  
Also, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Information and National Orientation, Senator Danladi Sankara, dissociated himself from an alleged plot by some senators to impeach the Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan, to pave way for eventual impeachment proceedings against President Buhari.
     
Senator Sankara, who represents Jigawa Northwest in the upper legislative chamber, refuted claims by certain online news publications linking him to the plot by some senators to impeach the Senate President
       
He said at no time was he consulted or co-opted into such plan by the eleven other Senators alleged to be masterminding the plot, adding: “It is just the figment of imagination of the online publications and the others, who are linking me to such a move. 
    
“I was present throughout the plenary sessions of last Tuesday and Wednesday, nobody approached me or sought my consent to join any move to impeach the Senate President or the president Muhammadu Buhari.”
   
The Senator said maturity and understanding are all that is required at this time to ensure that Nigeria overcomes the challenges of insecurity and economic downturn.
    
Also, dismissing the planned impeachment, a former member of Board of Trustees (BoT) of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Ebenezer Babatope and immediate past National Vice Chairman, Southwest of APC, Pastor Bankole Oluwajana, described the federal lawmakers as constituting an unserious bunch to contemplate impeachment six months away from general elections.
    
According to Babatope,”I don’t believe in the impeachment move. If you want to impeach a President in Nigeria and you are giving six weeks notice, it shows lack of seriousness.
   
“They should leave Buhari alone and allow him finish his tenure. Let’s pray for the country and forge ahead. I don’t think the National Assembly have engaged Mr. President enough to justify the intention to impeach him.
    
“In the first instance, security is a national concern and it affects everybody. Rather than isolate Buhari, we should pray for him and assist him to achieve results because this insecurity issue is becoming alarming to everybody. The impeachment notice shows lack of seriousness.”
 
On his part, Oluwajana contended that considering impeachment six months away from the general elections is a complete distraction, noting that the opposition would always look for any crack to put their heads. 
    
He stated” “There could be many reasons why the National Assembly members would be annoyed now, because many of them didn’t get a return ticket for 2023 elections. Their anger is expressed in many ways.
   
“Those affected may feel that that is a gap to put their heads. I am not talking as a party leader, but as an objective person. We are just six months away from general elections and some people are talking about removing the president.”
  
Oluwajana said the lawmakers are most likely on a vengeance mission, because many of them have not gotten the return ticket so they are annoyed.
    
“Some of them didn’t do well and they are afraid to face the electorate. The agenda is to distract Nigerians. We are less than seven months to the general election and should impeachment be our focus at this time. I don’t want to start discussing the justification of the planned impeachment or lack of it, that is not the issue. That justification has been there for some time. Obviously it is not that justification that is urging them now, but something else,” he added. 
  
Like Oluwajana, the National President, International Solidarity for Peace and Human Rights Initiative (ISFPAHRI), Comrade Osmond Ugwu, said he did not see any seriousness in the move by the law makers.
    
However, noting that Buhari’s impeachment was overdue, Ugwu stressed that several infractions and impeachable offences had been committed on the constitution that had been ignored.
   
“There is a total collapse in every thing about this country as a nation and it showed lack of leadership. The capacity of the government to continue to sustain this country had long gone.
    
“So, in a society where rules and regulations are effective, he can not stay up this time. It is not about issuing threats, but the seriousness behind it. If they can be serious this time around, it will be the best thing that can happen to this country.
    
“There have been several threats of impeachment that never worked out and the inability to carry them out have further impoverished the people and enthrone bad governance to the nation”, he said.
   
He recalled that the President had shunned several engagements by the National Assembly on security issues, stressing that the inability to honour such calls fuelled insecurity.
    
“If anything serious does not happen fast, you will see the terrorists taking over the seat of power as it happened in some countries. So terrible things may happen if nothing urgent is done. Buhari has shown incapability to stir the ship and should be made to quit the stage,” he added.
   
Also disagreeing with those against the impeachment threat, President of the Credibility Group, Chief Goddy Uwazuruike, said the continued survival of the country has become critical that all efforts must be geared towards it.
   
Uwazuruike noted that the move to impeach president Muhammad Buhari by the National Assembly on account of rising insecurity was constitutional and aimed at restoring the country, stressing that it is also an indication that the President has failed in his responsibilities.
   
He stated: “My position is very simple and that is, if a public limited company is not doing well consecutively, the board or even the Annual General Meeting can simply remove the person. In this case, the National Assembly, it is their duty to ensure that the President is doing well, it is their duty to ensure that the president is conscious of his responsibilities.
  
“It is their duty to initiate impeachment, when they feel the President has not worked according to the constitution. There are so many impeachable offences, but the most urgent and most recent remains insecurity in the country.

“As it is today, no part of the country is safe. There is no part of the country that you can travel freely any longer. The airlines have become Aircraft of Choice, even though those who live in Kaduna fly to Kano and the choice of flying by air has become rampant, they are due to insecurity.
   
“So, the National Assembly is on track to get Mr President either to sit up or commence impeachment proceedings. I don’t see anything wrong in it. So it is better late than never. Let nobody hinge the ineptitude on the fact that he has a few months to stay. A bad President can do a lot of damage under one month.
    
“So if we are going to set an example that he either performs or is butted out, let us start it now, so that whoever is coming in on May 29 will also know that it is not a tea party. It has nothing to do with religion or section but the totality of Nigeria.”

  
On the claims that the law makers may not have sufficiently engaged with the President to come up with the current impeachment move, Uwazuruike expressed the view that the lawmakers had been too lenient on him.
    
He declared: “Let me give you a straight forward answer. The National Assembly sometime invited Mr President to brief on security situation, only very few cases did security chiefs respond. It became so bad that even Ministers do not bother to respond to any summons, even the Police Chiefs. It is not enough for the president to hold meeting with security chiefs once in awhile and give out an answer that is non committal.
    
“So the National Assembly has made serious efforts to make the president to see the seriousness of the security situation in the country but at each occasion, the APC use it as weapon of attack on the members. In this country, there are three arms of government – the legislature, followed by the executive and judiciary. The legislature has power over the police, the judiciary does not also have power of force. It is out of helplessness that the law makers issued that threat and like they said, a word is enough for the wise. So let the president decide.”
   
A University teacher, Dr Ikem Onyeisi, said that it was lamentable that the country could still be discussing insecurity after the several millions pumped into the sector.
   
He blamed President Buhari for the deteriorating security situation, remarking that the President had shown that he lacked capacity, even as he stressed that “changing service heads or reshuffling them from time to time has no bearing to what is on ground.”
    
“If we are witnessing this level of attacks on Abuja which is the seat by terrorists, it means we are doomed. How can anyone believe that there is still a president with what is happening? The North is not safe; South is not, so where are we heeded? I think the action of NASS is overdue.
 
“It is not vendetta. The NASS members are representatives of the people and the people speak through them. It is a painful thing to live in Nigeria and if the law makers have decided to rise to their responsibilities, I expect a presidency that thinks the welfare of the people to have a change of mind,” Onyeisi stated.
 
But, amid the division, Senator Alex Kadiri declared that a majority of APC members in the National Assembly will support impeachment of Buhari, insisting that the impeachment threats against the President was coming a little too late, because of the many ‘idiots in the majority at the upper legislative chamber.
      
He stated: “Every outcome of every election has implications. If you put a lot of idiots in the majority, then they will behave idiotically to the end. The day you vote the Assembly people, either House of Assembly or National Assembly, the result you get has far-reaching implications.
    
“Senator Ahmad Lawn belongs to the party of the President; they are in the majority in the National Assembly you will expect that they will continue to protect the President for as long as it is possible for them to do so. That is the implication of being in the majority.

vv”But, they have reached a point now where everybody is ashamed. The opposition people are taking the bull by the horn now. I can I assure you that the majority of APC members in the national Assembly will support them. They cannot say it now until it comes to voting.”
  
However, an APC Senator, Smart Adeyemi, said it was wrong to associate the impeachment with vendetta, stressing: “My position is not informed by failure to get APC ticket.
     
He disclosed that the decision to give six weeks’ ultimatum to the President to step up his performance on security, emanated from APC Senators and not even from the minority caucus.

   
Adeyemi further explained that overwhelming majority of Senators present in chamber last Wednesday, including Senators who had become APC Senatorial candidates, expressed support for the ultimatum to the President.
    
While insisting that the position he took was guided by integrity, and patriotism as well as the need to prevent the country from total collapse, the Kogi West Senator said it is cheap blackmail to allege that his position was informed by his failure to secure APC ticket.
    
“Three months before primaries, I had been told that I would be denied ticket because of my views on issues of insecurity and governance. But I insist that because we represent our people, keeping quiet will not help matters because insecurity is destroying everything we have put into governance.
      
“The decision is consistent with the series of discussions and debates the Senate had had over the years on the performance of the executive regarding insecurity in the country. We have reservations on the performance of the President on security because insecurity is eroding the achievements recorded by the Buhari administration.”
    
He advised his critics to look at the merits of the position of Senators and avoid sentiments pointing out that once government fails to guarantee citizens’ security, the successes recorded in other areas like infrastructure will come to nothing.