By Danyilu Ene-Ekeji
History does not favour lawmakers of the Upper House of Nigeria’s National Assembly in their threat to impeach the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic. They have not successfully done it before, and perhaps, just perhaps, may leave it where it is: a mere threat!
Nigerians may not even take them seriously, having witnessed a lot of huffing and puffing, in the last 23 years of the present political dispensation, that led to nothing.
The drama on Wednesday appeared orchestrated. A closed session that lasted hours; then an open one; finally a shooting down of the motion to introduce to advise President Buhari to deal with growing insecurity or face impeachment. What followed was another drama. Members, especially of the opposition, but including some disgruntled ones of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), walk out, choosing the alternative smaller arena next door, the hall of the Senate Press Corps, as is the practice, to ventilate.
They spoke about a six weeks ultimatum to the President, knowing it will terminate while they are on recess. The Senate proceeded on its annual vacation same Wednesday!
Disturbed by the worrying level of insecurity in the country, which has permeated into Abuja where most are now ensconced, away from their insecure constituencies, the Senators gave President Muhammadu Buhari six weeks ultimatum to properly address worsening insecurity or face immediate impeachment.
Previous measures, like this, in the past have yielded no tangible fruit. Predictably, as in the past, the President has called together his defence and security chiefs, at least that is what the ever ready Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has told an exasperated nation.
Senators had attempted to raise the motion on the Senate floor but were rebuffed by Senate President Ahmed Lawan.
Led by Senate minority leader, Philip Aduda, the Senators, after their walk-out from the chambers chanted ‘All We are saying Buhari must go’.
As the Senators met, another instructive drama played out in the open arena of the National Assembly grounds: Nigerians from many walks of life led by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) were chanting invective, carrying placards and banners,
and berating the President and federal government for the five months old strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
It was the grand finale of the two-day protest called by the NLC in solidarity with the different unions in the public university system over welfare and funding matters.
Tellingly, a human rights activist, Professor Chidi Odinkalu, spoke on the situation in the country, especially insecurity, on Channels Television.
The former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), said, “If the President is in the hospital and under life support, he cannot delegate the job of the Commander-in-Chief, and when the Commander-in-Chief is as lazy and uncaring as the one that Nigeria has, the country is exactly where it deserves to be.”
The Senate Minority leader, Philip Aduda, whose constituency of Abuja has been under heightened physical and psychological siege in the last four weeks, told journalists that lawmakers went into a closed door session, where they deliberated on various various security issues.
“We also took into cognizance that the Senate at various fora, at various times and various meetings within which we recommended to Government, various steps have been suggested aimed at curbing this issue of insecurity but we have realised that even Abuja is no more safe.
“So at the closed session we agreed that we will give the President an ultimatum failing for which we will move to give an impeachment notice.
“This was our agreement at the executive session but when we came out the Senate President refused to inform the public of our resolution.
“Since that didn’t happen, we have come here in protest to let Nigerians Know that we are with them.
“That we are worried so we staged a walkout from the chambers to register that the security in Nigeria is out of hand and urgent steps need to be taken so that the issues are addressed immediately.
“We have come here to say that we have passed so many resolutions on security, we have given all the support and all the enabling appropriation that they need”
Senators that joined the protest included Senator Muhammed Bulkachuwa, Buhari’s senator Ahmmad Babba Kaita
Earlier on the floor, before the “alleged betrayal,” by Lawan,Aduda had raised a point of order asking the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, to discuss the security situation in the country and the impeachment of President Buhari.
Lawan, who presided over the plenary, declined the request of the minority leader, saying the point of order raised fell short of the standards for raising such matters.
From the presidency came what amounted to insults as presidential spokesman fired a statement saying: “The performative and babyish antics of those senators staging a walk out notwithstanding, Senate President Ahmad Lawan’s refusal on Wednesday to entertain the ridiculous motion to impeach our President was quite appropriate and correct.
“Rather than making a mockery out of voters by trying to imitate what they see in America, the opposition would be well advised that their time would be better spent tackling the pressing issues Nigerians face, such as the current global cost of living crisis.
“Their continued failure to do so goes some way to explaining why they remain in opposition.
“In contrast, the President Muhammadu Buhari administration is committed to finding lasting solutions to the emerging security threats, including those left behind by the PDP in the South-South, the Northeast and throughout the federation. In the last 24 hours, two more Chibok girls were freed, in addition to the three brought home last week.
“These kinds of headline grabbing stunts for which the opposition is now well known serve no one, least of all their constituents. We would respectfully remind them that it is those same constituents that they were elected to serve, and are paid to do so with public money.
“We would welcome their collaboration in our efforts to solve the problems Nigerians face on a daily basis. No one is asking them to waste their time attempting to impeach a democratically elected President at the end of his second term – certainly not their constituents.
“They should ask themselves: do they want to be in government or do they want to be in the headlines? If they want to be in government they should start acting like it and stop undermining Nigerian voters.”
Expectedly and true to type, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said what the lawmakers did was unnecessary.
At a State House meeting with journalists after the meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC), on Wednesday in Abuja, Mohammed said there was no need for such ultimatum, as government was doing all it could to address the security challenges in the country.
He praised the senators for their patriotism and concern, but added, “I want to assure you that the President is aware of all these and as a matter of fact, I think tomorrow there’s going to be another Security Council meeting.
“So, it’s not a matter the President is taking lightly and like I’ll always say, some of the measures we’re going to take are not measures that you can discuss openly here, but we’re as concerned as you are, we’re not going to abandon our responsibility.”
On the threat by terrorists to kidnap President Buhari and Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir el Rufai, he said it was laughable.
His words, “As to those who have issued threats to Mr President, I think it’s more of propaganda than anything. It’s laughable.”
Buf for Nigerians what are propaganda and laughable are the pains they suffer as a result of crass ineptitude, economic hardship, brazen corruption, runaway insecurity while government officials, including lawmakers, tell barefaced lies, indulge in inebriating drama, and junket around the world.
The social media is replete with the anger of Nigerians, cast in disrespectful skits, jokes, insults, write-ups, and cartoons. Others have resorted to betting, discussing football from other climes, seeking ways of fleeing Nigeria, and other fanciful ventures.