I have always felt that violence was the last refuge of the incompetent, and empty threats the last sanctuary of the terminally inept. – Neil Gaiman
Impeachment is a severe rebuke for the proven misconduct of political officeholders. That rod of office [as opposed to carrots] is inserted in the constitution for ultimately whipping into line errant officeholders whose incompetence and or malfeasance threaten the discharge of the duties of office, especially as they relate to the entire governmental system. This whip is rarely used by parliaments around the globe except as a last resort and only in extreme cases to tackle recalcitrance and or glaring incompetence of an elected officeholder.
PresidentMuhammaduBuhariin many ways has had more than his fair share of the requirements to merit the deployment of this section of the constitution. What have the MPs who should oversee his performance done? The legislators just have been turning a blind eye, ostensibly because of the sentiments of party loyalty and the religious and tribal inclinations.
Its heavily compromised leadership has not helped marchers either. This parliamentary indifference to a glaring failure and blatant breaches of the constitution over time has placed the 9th National Assembly led by Dr Ahmed Lawan as one of the worst in the annals of the nation’s legislature. The bicameral parliament has made impeachment look less serious and a huge joke because it abused it with empty threats over time. Parents of rebellious teens will always warn of the danger of not making good their threats.
Suchparentsaskforworsemisbehaviour next time and that exactly is what has been happening between the National Assembly and the executive arm of the Federal Government over insecurity. When Senate President Ahmed Lawan declared from inception that he would never do anything to undermine the PMB regime, many knew he was out for a lapdog job in the upper house instead of checkmating executive excesses.
Lastweek, therefore, the Senate and House of Representatives threatened to impeach the President if he failed to address the worsening insecurity. Not a few Nigerians took the impeachment threat seriously. First, if the insecurity was such that the nation’s capital was really under attack and national troops were dying, should a serious parliament react by proceeding on vacation? The situation called for a state of emergency.
No holidays! It is an open secret that the legislators’ threat was no more than a ploy as usual. Seven years hence, the President has not been able to ameliorate the security situation and nothing has changed to make Baba Go Slow to perform magic in six weeks. What many believe is that the motive of the legislature was pecuniary rather than patriotic. Remember that those who were denied automatic return tickets are still sulking after PMB promised to sort them out before the general election. The impeachment threat should remind the President that they can bark and bite.
But the President well knows that the barking bulldogs are plain toothless. On the surface, the threat looks populist and a show of concern for a bad situation but underneathitliestherealreasonwhichisselfish and lucre-driven. The question then is, why mixsuchseriousissuesassecuritywithaselfish agenda? The answer is captured in several political sayings that what politicians think about and work for always is about the next election.
It’s delusionalforthe9thNationalAssembly to want Nigerians to believe that they aredetermined totackletheexecutiveover the deteriorating security situation on the eve of theirexitwhentheyhadallthetimetoprevent today’s situations but they did not. Elections generally are usually very expensive and in Nigeria, as elsewhere, require funding. But the 2023 general election is going to be super-expensive with the template already set by the two main political parties, the All Progressives Congress, APC, and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in picking their flag-bearers.
The so-called dollarization of the party primaries, especially the Presidential candidacy contest in the two parties, set the stage for the monetization of the contest and became a model for all the elections. You may already be aware of the scarcity of dollars that the Central Bank of Nigeria, has attributed to politicians mopping up dollars to fund their 2023 elections.
The dollar makes for easy cashin- transit, for instance, instead of struggling with millions of naira in “Ghana Must Go” bags you have just about US$1,500, in your back pocket or wallet. Except perhaps for Peter Obi and his Labour Party who have continued to grow in fame at no cost we no dey give shishi, hardly anything will be done free in the other two major political parties. Coming out of such a contest, both the winners and losers have their pockets seriously drained. If you are a winner your pocket is seriouslydepletedtocontinuethebiggertask, themainelectionandif youarealoseryoursis a double tragedy. Your money is gone and the ticket off you, enough for you to seek a pound of flesh. The small consolation here, however, isthatmostof theexpendedfundsareequally looted public money.
These characters in the National Assembly are now just waking up to security issues in the last hour of their tenure and wanting to be taken seriously. Garbed in two groups, the outgoing squad who frittered away their money and the returning ones who although got their tickets are highly bruised in the contest and are unlikely to be able to continue unlessthereisawaysomeoilingisdonefromthe system. Insuchamood, allthefocusisusually on where and how to grab it. Such a situation calls for out-of-the-box reasoning for a way out of financial distress.
Afterall, wearetaughtby experts to always think outside the box when wearedrivenintoacorner inevery challenge, particularly in generating more income. The impeachmentthreatcouldbeapossiblefallout of such thinking. But the economy of the country has been in oxygen for some time now and has taken a toll on every sector. There has been no lavish funding of anything anywhere. Even when things were relativelybetter, President Buhari has establisheda known traitthat you can’t get money off him unless in a do-or-die matter.
What we are saying essentially is that the impeachmentthreatfrommembersof theNational Assembly should not be viewed from a patriotic angle which is what it’s supposed to be but from the point of a people looking for money from a difficult spender. Buhari is long overdue for impeachment if the now threatening legislators are sincere about the security of Nigerian citizens, but we know that they are not open-hearted and genuineinwhattheyaredoing.
Thatwaswhy alltheshoutingfromSenator EnyinnayaAbaribe, then Minority Leader, drawing attention to the glaring failure of the APC government got no corresponding response when it was germane. When through consistent pressure from Senator Abaribe and his team the former service chiefs were grudgingly eased out, they had to be quickly compensated with ambassadorial positionsand whentheirnamescame back to the same Senate who demanded their sack for incompetence, approval was quick. In a country of more than 200 million people, five persons were sacked for incompetence; rather than discard them as failures, PMB compensated them postings as ambassadors and the supposed people’s parliament whoshouldprotestokayeditjustbecausethey can’t say no to Buhari.
These are the same people flying the impeachment kite over insecurity. Seriously? Theoriginators of democracyhadinmind that a complicated country like Nigeria with allitsflawsinpoliticalleadershipwillhavedifficulty in practice. They knew that in the process of practising democracy, operatives not comfortablewithitsprincipleswouldwantto distortitsoriginalcodeof conduct. It’sagainst suchabackdropthattheimpeachmentclause came as a checkmate against violators. It’s therefore to be a correctional measure, not an intimidatory or coercive instrument as the current impeachment move appears.
But in Nigeria, so many variables have combined to affect the smooth running of democratic principles and as a result, kept our polity pedestrian for many years and still counting. The motive behind the three arms of government, Executive, Legislature and Judiciary is for each to complement the other for the efficient running of government.
But thishasnotbeeneasyinourclimebecauseof theneedlessaccommodationwehavegivento ethnicity, religion and sheepish party loyalty and eyeservice. The 9th National Assembly, in reality, has not demonstrated it has the balls to fight for nationalinterestandtosuddenlystartpractising the use of the left hand at the adult stage can easily expose its oddity.
If President Buhari fails to heed the numerous patriotic calls for him to resign and give way since he has done his best [to words from my buddy Mallam Garba Shehu], the National Assembly should not multiply the confusionwiththeir dead-on-arrivalimpeachment which is capable of overheating the polityassuchcouldintheprocesscreategrounds for anti-democratic forces to thrive.