Nigerian democracy has finally slided into one of jackboot democracy and gunboat loyalty. You either toe the line of the ruling party, or get run out of town by government security apparatchik, especially the EFCC, Police, DSS and ICPC. It has never been so bad; not even during the military juntas when Decrees 2 and 4 were used to hunt down critics of government.
The latest of these atrocities and undemocratic acts were witnessed in Benue State recently, where the Police and DSS physically aided eight renegade Benue State House of Assembly members to force their way into the hallowed chambers, to begin a purported impeachment proceedings against the governor. They were led by a man who had earlier been removed as Speaker by the majority and even suspended. A court order was to affirm this removal and suspension with judicial imprimatur.
It is inconceivable that Nigeria could be brought down to this sorry state of nadir, this political mockery through utter desperation by a clueless, non performing government that has spent over three years of its governance blaming past administrations, spreading poverty, hunger, insecurity, monumental corruption, disease, squalor and parlous economy.
For the information of the uninformed advisers of this desperate government that will praise to high heavens today, a governor, politician or legislator when begging him at night like Nichodemus (in the full glare of cameras), and demonize and criminalize him the following day, when he decamps to another political party. Eight members of a House of Assembly of 30 cannot form a quorum to serve an impeachment notice on a sitting governor.
Impeaching a sitting governor is a very serious moral and constitutional issue, because it tantamounts to upturning the clear decision and will of the people of that state who had voted the governor into office for a fixed term. Section 188 of the 1999 Constitution prescribes at least eight major steps that must be taken towards impeaching a governor, beginning with a notice in writing signed by not less than one-third of the members of that state House of Assembly, alleging “gross misconduct” against the governor.
In the Benue State case, there are 30 members. One-third of 30 is 10. But, the farce witnessed recently was a suspended former Speaker (who is therefore not even a member of the House for now), leading seven other members with the full protection of Police and DSS to gatecrash into the Assembly, while the legitimate 22 members were securely locked out. Seven members cannot form a quorum to serve a notice of impeachment on Governor Samuel Ortom. At least, 10 members are required. The members that schemed this legal and constitutional hara-kiri of purporting to give impeachment notice to the governor are actually seven not eight, as erroneously published in so many quarters. Once the former Speaker was removed and suspended by the majority for six months, he ceased to be a member of the House for the period of suspension. To suspend is to adjourn, postpone, defer, interrupt, arrest, delay, keep in abeyance or interlude, or shelve.
So, when the former Speaker, Mr. Terkimbi Ikyanye (APC Ushongo), was removed, suspended and replaced with Mr. Titus Ubah (APC Kyaan), his membership of the Assembly, going by the meanings of “suspension” was effectively deferred, interrupted, adjourned, postponed, shelved, or kept in abeyance and interlude. He cannot therefore, during the period of suspension, attend, participate in, or contribute to the business of the House. He becomes a total stranger on the floor of the House who can neither sit nor vote during proceedings in accordance with section 56, 57 and 63 of the 1999 Constitution. To be concluded next week.
THE MANY “GATES” OF BUHARI GOVERNMENT (4)
Today, we shall conclude on the above topic, continuing with the FAILEDPROMISESGATE.
STILL ON FAILEDPROMISESGATE
“… Construct a 5,000km of Superhighway including service trunks and (b) building of up to 6,800km of modern railway completed by 2019; Page 11; Embark on PPP schemes that will ensure every one of the 36 states has one functional airport. Page 11; speedily pass the much delayed Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) and ensure that local content issues are fully addressed. Page 12; Make Nigeria the world’s leading exporter of LNG through the creation of strategic partnerships. Page 12; Targeting up to 20% of our annual budget for Education. Page 13; Provide One Meal a day for all Primary school pupils. That will create jobs in Agriculture, Catering, and Delivery Services. Page 14; establish at least six new universities of Science and Technology with satellite campuses in various states. Page 14; Establish technical colleges and vocational centres in each state of the federation. Page 14; Increase the quality of all Federal Government-owned hospitals to world class standard by 2019. Page 15; Provide free antenatal care for pregnant women; free health care for babies and children up to school going age and for the aged; and free treatment for those afflicted with infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.
Page 15; create an Insurance Policy for our journalists as the nation faces hard times and our journalists face more dangers. Page 15; Establish Zonal world-class sports academies and training institutes and ensure that Nigeria occupies a place of pride in global sports and athletics; Page 16; Assist Nollywood to fully develop into world class movie industry that can compete effectively with Hollywood and Bollywood in due course. Page 16; guarantee that women are adequately represented in government appointments and provide greater opportunities in education, job creation, and economic empowerment. Page 16; Use the Party structures to promote the concept of reserving a minimum number of seats in the States and National Assembly, for women. Page 16; Create shelterbelts in states bordering the Sahara Desert to mitigate and reverse the effects of the expanding desert. Page 17; on the second document titled ‘Roadmap to a New Nigeria.; Create 20,000 jobs per state immediately for those with a minimum qualification of secondary school leaving certificate and who participate in technology and vocational training. Page 4; Place the burden of proving innocence in corruption cases on persons with inexplicable wealth.
Page 7; Pursue legislation expanding forfeiture and seizure of assets laws and procedure with respect to inexplicable wealth, regardless of whether there is a conviction for criminal conduct or not. Page 7; Provide free tertiary education to students pursuing Science and Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). Page 9; Provide free tertiary education to education majors and stipends prior to their employment as teachers. Page 9; Create incentives and dedicate special attention to the education of girls. Page 9; Ensure every child attending primary school is properly nourished and ready to learn by providing a Free Meal a Day. Page 9; achieve the construction of one million low-cost houses within four years for the poor. Page 11; Stop all travel abroad at government expense for the purpose of medical treatment. Page 13; Provide incentives for Nigerian doctors and health practitioners working abroad to return home, to strengthen the healthcare industry in Nigeria and provide quality care to those who need it. Page 14; Make sure people at a local level benefit from mining and mineral wealth by vesting all mineral rights in land to states. Page 17.” Have these promises been fulfilled? You judge.
The “DAPCHIGATE”, where young innocent secondary school girls were allegedly exchanged for money and purported Boko Haram terrorists were heralded into Dapchi with pomp and pageantry, are too notorious to be discussed here. What about IDPgate? Hmnn!
Nigeria is drifting, ominously sliding towards the precipice. Can APC and R-APC still save Nigeria from her present doldrums? Is someone still pretending that there is no division within the APC (section 68 (1) (g) of the Constitution), such as to allow legislators defect freely and constitutionally? The following weeks and months will be very interesting, especially with the recent earthquake at the NASS. The End.
THOUGHT FOR THE MONTH
“History teaches us that unity is strength, and cautions us to submerge and overcome our differences in the quest for common goals, to strive, with all our combined strength, for the path to true African brotherhood and unity.” (Haile Selassie).
Nigerians, please continue to engage me in the national conversation, whilst awaiting explosive topic of Sunday Sermon on the Mount of the Nigerian Project by Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, OFR, FCIArb., Ph.D, LL.D.
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