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A belated impeachment move against President Buhari

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That President Muhammadu Buhari and the Nigerian Armed Forces should defeat terrorism in six weeks or be handed impeachment notice in September does not only amount to wishful thinking but laughable given that the National Assembly threatening the commander-in-chief with a sack has failed woefully in its statutory duties of making ‘laws for the peace, order and good governance of the federation’ and oversight functions in the past seven years.

We believe that this is an inauspicious time for the Senate and House of Representatives to wield the big stick and invoke section 143 of the 199 Constitution (as amended) which gives the lawmakers sweeping powers and lays the procedure for the removal of a sitting president from office considering the monumental socio-economic and security challenges confronting the country.

Therefore, rather than embark on a wild goose hunt and dissipate energies on a futile attempt to remove Mr. President since it is crystal clear that the opposition lawmakers in the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and perhaps their aggrieved colleagues in the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, will unlikely muster the mandatory two thirds in both chambers required, it makes sense that the legislature and the executive at this juncture, should foster harmonious relationship in order to provide the needed material and financial support to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC to conduct free, fair and credible general elections in February next year.

This will pave the way for the emergence of new leadership at the federal and state levels who could turn around the current avoidable misfortune unleashed on Nigerians by the outgoing Buhari administration. The federal lawmakers in our opinion also, should intensify their oversight functions over the military, paramilitary agencies and the Nigeria Police Force to ensure that the trillions of naira appropriated for the purchase of weapons, equipment and operational vehicles since the inception of the incumbent administration in 2015 had been judiciously utilized and expose those who might have diverted part of the funds to the relevant anti- corruption bodies for appropriate action.

Senators had recently at an executive session across party lines, reportedly agreed to give Buhari a six-week ultimatum to address the worsening insecurity or risk impeachment, and also that all resolutions passed earlier on how to improve the security situation nationwide be implemented during the same period by the ruling APC-led administration.

In a dramatic move that day too, Senate Minority Leader, Philip Aduda (PDP FCT), on the floor of the Red Chamber vehemently protested the worsening security situation and demanded an open debate as agreed upon at the closed door session under a point of order and requested his colleagues to give a six-week ultimatum to the President to address the issue of insecurity or face impeachment.

“Mr. President (of the Senate), you may wish to recall that during the closed session, we discussed the issues as they relate to security in the country and all the issues around it… We had also discussed that we are going to come back to plenary to discuss the efforts that have been made so far on the issue of security in the country, after which we give an ultimatum to the President that he resolves this issue, otherwise, we give an impeachment notice,” he revealed.

Swiftly delivering a ruling on Aduda’s point of order, Senate President Ahmad Lawan faulted the lawmaker for failing to put forward his request in accordance with the Senate’s rules, which regulate its proceedings to the chagrin of the opposition senators who were later led by Aduda to walk out of the chamber before announcing the ultimatum during an interaction with journalists in Abuja.

But the question is: can the 9th Assembly that had severally proved to be a rubber stamp of the executive carry through its impeachment threat just nine months to the end of the incumbent government that will exit the stage on May 29th next year? Secondly, should removing Buhari now the best strategy to address insecurity that the seed was sowed in 2009 and what are the likely implications of the impeachment?
Another poser for the National Assembly is why wait till this moment to move against the APC- led administration that had held sway at the federal for over seven years but with barely 9 months left?
We believe strongly that the current federal lawmakers given their antecedents, cannot impeach the President while attempting such will tantamount to playing to the gallery that will heat up the polity unnecessarily.

Like we argued in this column in the past, a lasting solution to the lingering security challenges bedeviling the country can be found in enacting an enabling law for the creation of State Police since the Federal Policing system has failed to secure the lives and property of Nigerians.

In other words the impeachment of the President or even alongside Vice President Yemi Osinbajo would not terminate insecurity but rather aggravate the situation because the root causes have not been addressed. Therefore, we demand that the outgoing federal lawmakers in cohort with their colleagues in State Assembly should immediately initiate a private member bill to amend the Constitution to give legal backing to State Police as obtained in every federal democracy in the world even if that is the only lasting legacy they can bequeath for the people.

They can equally go the whole hog to override the President’s possible veto on such legislation in the national interest.

Specifically, we wish to draw the attention of the National Assembly to the fact that the legislature remains the most important arm of government in Nigeria especially in view of the powers conferred on it by Section 88, sub section 2(b) of the 1999 Constitution to ‘expose corruption, inefficiency or waste in the execution or administration of laws within its legislative competence and in the disbursement or administration of funds appropriated by it’.

In our opinion, the federal legislature has performed dismally in its oversight functions which is why the looting of the nation’s commonwealth by public officials continues unabated, the latest been the former Accountant-General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris who alongside two others allegedly stole N109.4 billion of public funds at a time that public universities have been shut for almost six months over the inability of government to meet the demands of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU.

Again, in an insensitive gesture just few days ago, the Federal Government defended the approval of N1.15billion for the purchase of vehicles for Niger Republic to ‘strengthen capacity to deal with insecurity’ at a time that many Nigerians are facing severe economic hardship and tormented daily by terrorists and criminals.
Another embarrassing case in point was when the Senate President visited the Kuje Prison in the Federal Capital Territory after it was bombed by terrorists and some lives lost in July. Lawan expressed surprise that the prison had no Closed Circuit Television even though there a Senate Committee on Interior that ought to have unearthed that fact in its oversight functions. Simply put! the above instances would have been averted if the National Assembly was alive to its responsibilities of over sighting the executive arm of government at the centre to guarantee good governance and make life more meaningful for the citizens.

Also, the unmerited approval by the federal lawmakers for the Federal Government to obtain multi-billion dollars Chinese loans for the construction of railways without adequately scrutinizing the President’s request to ascertain the nation’s repayment capability has thrown the country into another avoidable debt trap to the point that even our total earnings in the first 5 months of this year was insufficient to service the debt.

The point we are making is that besides the security challenges now threatening our collective existence as a nation, the people are confronted with other numerous problems ranging from poverty, epileptic power supply, lack of potable water, unemployment, over 13 million out of school children, poor health system, massive devaluation of the Naira, high cost of petroleum products with kerosene costing N820 per litre, hunger coupled with the high cost of foodstuffs which require the lawmakers’ urgent intervention rather than issue an ultimatum to Buhari on insecurity. The earlier they enact good laws for the executive to address these problems, the better for all Nigerians.

 

 

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