Politics

Day parliament toyed with impeachment

Proceedings at last Tuesday’s plenary was pathetic, as lawmakers expressed their frustrations and apprehensions over the heightening level of insecurity in the country.

 

They had just returned from a horrible weekend in which a group of armed bandits overran an all- male boarding college, the Government Science Secondary School ( GSSS), Kankara, Katsina State.

 

The invaders who struck at about midnight the previous Friday, abducted over 300 students from the school and marched them them away to an unknown destination.

 

It was not the first of such incidents in recent history, but this one had a curious but painful twist. It happened right under the nose of President Muhammadu Buhari, the all powerful and most respected, Commander -In- Chief of the Armed Forces.

 

The concern of most parliamentarians was the conflicting information emanating from the incident and the seeming inability of the President and the security forces to rise to the occasion as quickly as expected in any clime where human lives matter.

 

A motion proposed by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Water Resources, Sen. Bello Mandiya (APC/Katsina ) on the need for an investigation into the abduction triggered a chain of angry reactions. However, frustration soon crept into the debate because the lawmakers had passed through this route many times.

 

It was difficult for any one to proffer any new solution because the parliament had, at least in the last one year, debated the state of insecurity in Nigeria and passed several resolutions to improve the situation.

 

 

 

On many occasions, they had passed resolutions urging the President to sack his security chiefs who had served their legitimate tenures and should have been retired long before now. They had asked for the restructuring of the security architecture and they have passed resolutions asking the executive to increase the defence budget to ensure the Nigeria Army is bouyant enough to procure sophisticated arms and ammunitions.

 

They had even demanded from the executive a comprehensive welfare package for the troops on the front lines to boost their morale and encourage them to combat insecurity.

 

In fact they have done all that is legislatively possible to assist the executive arm of the government in delivering on the primary responsibility of every government but the situation seems to be changing for the worse. It was therefore not surprising that a motion suggesting that the service chiefs be summoned to address the chamber on the security situation was roundly defeated.

 

They dared not summon the President and Commander in Chief because the recent attempt by the House of Representatives turned out to be an effort in futility. Another motion seeking to constitute a bipartisan adhoc committee to brainstorm on the security situation in the country also fell flat because there was hardly any aspect of insecurity that the red chamber had not considered at least in the last one year.

 

But while many lawmakers fumed and grumbled, a couple of them summoned courage to take take the bull by the horns by proposing measures that could compel the man in Aso Rock to take the parliament and its resolutions seriously.

 

A former Senate Minority Leader, Sen. Abiodun Olujimi, suggested that the National Assembly should stop further work on the 2021 Appropriation Bill, to compel President Buhari to listen to the wise counsels from the Senate by implementing its resolutions on security.

 

 

“The presidency is not an award, it is a call to duty. And when you call a man to duty he must be able to know when the buck stops on his table.

 

Right now the buck stops on the President’s table as far as security in this country is concerned. “The time has come for us to take drastic action, and one of them is that we must do something before we produce the budget; we must think outside the box, we must hold government accountable because this is the third arm and we are equal in all,” she said.

 

However, it was Senator Matthew Urhoghide (PDP/Edo) that got closest to hitting the nail on the head. Urhoghide argued that since all the previous resolutions of the chamber had fallen on deaf ears, there was need to activate Section 143 of the Constitution which deals with impeachment and removal of the President.

 

He proposed the collection of the signatures of at least two third of the members of the chamber and attach it to their next resolution to send a strong and clear message to Aso Rock that the National Assembly was running out of patience. One could feel the frustrations of the chamber.

 

Buhari, a retired Major General of the Nigeria Army, rode to power six years ago, largely because of his military background. He came, well recommended by those who recruited him for the job. All the rough edges on his curriculum vitae were smoothened to ensure he was elected to lead the country.

 

Even when there were some dissenting voices from those who felt he was a spent force. He was coached to say and do all the right things on his way to power. One of the things that sold him to the western powers was a speech he delivered on February 25, 2015, at Chatham House, London.

 

He spoke clearly on security of Nigeria. In his words: “Let me assure you that if I am elected president, the world will have no cause to worry about Nigeria as it has had to recently; that Nigeria will return to its stabilising role in West Africa; and that no inch of Nigerian territory will ever be lost to the enemy because we will pay special attention to the welfare of our soldiers in and out of service, we will give them adequate and modern arms and ammunitions to work with,

 

“We will improve intelligence gathering and border controls to choke Boko Haram’s financial and equipment channels, we will be tough on terrorism and tough on its root causes by initiating a comprehensive economic development plan promoting infrastructural development, job creation, agriculture and industry in the affected areas.

 

“l will always act on time and not allow problems to irresponsibly fester, and I, Muhammadu Buhari, will always lead from the front and return Nigeria to its leadership role in regional and international efforts to combat terrorism.”

 

Almost six years down the line, the Nigerian people have had a different Buhari preside over the affairs of the country. In the first four years, he claimed he was distracted by a hostile leadership in the National Assembly. Indeed, the 8th Senate did not spare him but the current Senate has been primed to work for him.

 

The 9th Senate claims to be on the same page with the and has exercised so much restraint in its dealings with the Presidency of Muhammadu Buhari. This posture of maintaining a cordial executive /legislative relationship has its roots in how the Sen Ahmed Lawan leadership emerged in the red chamber. It is a leadership that was raised through an admixture of party supremacy and compromise.

 

This is why the chamber is largely perceived by Nigerians as a rubber stamp and an extension of the Presidential Villa. No amount of image laundering can change this perception because often times when Nigerians expect the parliament to respond to issues constructively and on points of law, they get the disappointed in the “don’t rock the boat” attitude of these senior parliamentarians..

 

It will take a lot of work for the 9th Senate to wake up to its responsibility of checkmating the executive and ensuring that Nigerians derive benefit from the system. The courageous lawmakers who dared the odds must be encouraged to take action on the many lapses in the current administration and put Buhari and his men on their toes.

 

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