By Musa Adamu
I am not a fan of football game in the real sense of fanship but I know enough of the game to know that an own goal by a player is depressing, lonely and even funny situation that that player can find himself in.
Whoever is unfortunate to find himself in such a situation rue the time he committed such self-inflicted infamy for the rest of his career and indeed draw a feeling of either indignation, pity or both.
For such a player, the centre may never hold again and indeed things have fallen apart for him.
Impeaching a Governor is not a football game; it is much more than that. It is a Constitutional matter. It is a process fraught with series of steps that must be religiously followed. And anything short of these portends problems for the final goal of the process and could even lead to the table turning, making the hunter becoming the hunted.
When the lawmakers in Nasarawa state hurriedly convened to save the state Governor a quit notice (impeachment notice) not a few Nigerians knew that the process was in bad faith and not born out of a genuine desire on the part of the lawmakers to do their statutory jobs. Close watchers of the state politics were aware of the running battle the Governor had been having with the lawmakers before it culminated into the impeachment process.
Perhaps, it is in order to remind or informed the uninformed that the state, from the onset, is composed of 20 PDP and 4 APC members and thus far, the APC state government has not been able to win any PDP member House over to his party. Due to this composition the Governor had been ruling literally under constant intimation, threat and blackmail by the House. Perhaps, worthy of mention here too, is that since the journey begun, the Governor has been threatened with impeachment for about eight times before now.
This attitude of the House towards the Governor is exercabated by the facts that some of the Governor’s actions are clearly against the interests of the House members.
One of these, and which is the chief among many, is the uncompromising stance of the Governor against the long standing tradition of giving the House members some money, in millions of Naira, in the name of “Constituency allowance.”
The governor made it very clear that in as much as he would seriously want to be friends with the House, as a leader of the state, he must take a stand on whether he wants to deliver on infrastructural development or continue on the already established ” stomach infrastructure.” He said as the state that receives the least federally allocated revenue, whoever gets the opportunity of supervising the affairs of the state must take a stand. He reasoned that nobody can embrace the two. And chose the former.
His choice, no doubt, reshuffled so many long established traditions. Not only was the interest of the House was ruffled, even the so-called elders of the state who had constituted themselves into the lord of the manor of the state, refusing any talk about infrastructural development but championing of “stomach infrastructure.”
For these people, the Governor has failed even if he constructs an access road into his house as long as not into his pocket. Conscious of these facts on the state and its governance, well-meaning state indigenes and standings in the state quickly rose to interfere and broker an amicable resolution to what clearly promises to be an ill wind that would nobody anybody good. These people include all the first class and even the classless Chiefs of the state, notable politicians, academics, youths, and every other stakeholder you can think about. This was because, right from the onset, it clear that the missive of the House was anything but noble and in the interest of the state. But, like a dog destined to miss his way and refused to hear its master’s whistle, the lawmakers refused all entreaties from these people to sheath their swords.
While the youths showed their displeasure in the streets, others who are too elderly to take that course resulted to writing open letter in the Media and granting interviews to reach out to this vexed lawmakers who had by now relocated to Abuja. Some accounts have it that the state’s traditional rulers hierarchy led by the Emir of Lafia left their palaces for three days to meet with lawmakers in Abuja but were refused audience. It seemed nothing could placate them and nothing could stop them from going through with missive; not even a meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan who was reportedly said to have appealed to them to back down. But, the entire colour of the impeachment waters changed when the Speaker of the House eventually directed the Chief of Judge (CJ)of the state to constitute and investigative panel to investigate the Governor.
After two days foot dragging, hoping that there would be a change of mind, the CJ set up the panel on a Friday. Curious enough and days after, the House came out to call for the dissolution of the panel they directed for its constitution in the first place. Questions arise as to whether the House have the constitutional basis to so do or even the CJ who derives his powers to set up the panel now has the Constitutional backing to dissolve the panel. This is because while S. 188 (5) empowered the CJ to perform the function of the empanelling Seven persons who, in his option, are of questionable characters, no section of the 1999 Constitution of the FRN (as amended) gives the House the powers to call for the dissolution of the panel. And indeed, no constitutional provision empowering the CJ to dissolve the panel he set up in the first place.
In other words, the panel, after being dully set up, assumed a life of its own and it is only a competent court of law that can bring that life to an end. Anything short of this is a complete extra constitutional measure that cannot stand a judicial test. And regarding the misgivings about the composition of the panel of people they referred to as unfit for such assignment, the House must know that it is no longer within its purview to raise such question because their powers over the entire process ended when the Speaker, exercising his Powers provided in S.188 (5) of the Constitution.
Musa Adamu via email@example.com