There was wild drama in Kano state House of Assembly in June 2001 when the then Speaker of the House, Hon. Abdullahi Gwarmai was impeached by members of the House. His offense? Depigmentation. Or, to put it in a derogative term, the Speaker was bleaching. Was that impeachable offense? The lawmakers said it was. Beneath the surface, the Speaker, who seemed to have been more loyal to late Muhammadu Abubakar Rimi than Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, was said to have attended some secret meetings organized by Rimi loyalists in Katsina to impeach Gov. Kwankwaso. On getting wind of the action, the governor fired back with executive ferocity. And before you could say Jack Robinson, charges were slammed against Gwarmai.
Gwarmai’s impeachment followed a motion sponsored by the then Majority Leader of the House, Alhaji Bello Ado ‘Yandadi and approved by the majority of the members. As if bleaching was a contravention of a constitutional provision, Hon. ‘Yandadi said “the House warned Gwarmai several times to stop bleaching but he refused”. In plain language, they wanted him to dump Tura for either Nku or Fond.
But Gwarmai wanted to keep looking like a raccoon. Of course he didn’t hide his affinity with Tura, Movet, Ambi and Shirley in order to reduce concentration of menalin. In his response, Gwarmai almost said aloud he had been a loyal customer of Nato, a famous bleaching cream seller in Sabon Gari market. Mr Nato (himself turned like palm oil because of bleaching) has disfigured a lot of women (and men) to look more of tangerine colour than “white”. Now hear the Speaker’s retort: “I have bleached my skin since childhood and everyone knows this. My removal has political undertones. The issue of bleaching is not a good reason for my removal”.
Since the first impeachment in Nigeria, the removal of the Speaker of Ondo State House of Assembly, Chief Richard Jolowo in the Second Republic on charges of “dishonesty, high handedness and gross misconduct”, most of impeachment charges against office holders were grossly implausible. Quite frankly, the forced resignation of Salisu Buhari (over falsification of age and university certificate) and a few others after him were in the right order.
Sometime in 2008, Bauchi Assembly Speaker Halliru Jika was forced to resign for “going to Government House” against the House’s resolution to shun the Bauchi Government House. Where else did they want him to go? Brothel? But beneath the surface, the young man was a partygoer — and the House members saw that as morally wrong for a leader. Also in Bauchi, Gov. Isa Yuguda’s deputy Alhaji Garba Gadi was impeached for remaining in the party on which platform he was elected. But Yuguda, who defected from the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) to Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), was not guilty to any charge. To hang a dog, you have to give it a bad name. The Majority Leader of the House said Gadi collected two different estacodes “worth millions of naira” for a single trip to Saudi Arabia. But a deputy governor, I learn, doesn’t grant approval except he is in acting capacity. And for granting approvals twice for the same purpose, I think Yuguda came closer to committing impeachable offense than Gadi.
The impeachment of former deputy governor of Kano State in the Second Republic, late Alhaji Bibi Farouk was also fraught with similar trivia. The two factions of Santsi and Tabo in the defunct Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) created a wide crevice in Abubakar Rimi’s government. The deputy governor’s offense was remaining in the Tabo faction, led by late Malam Aminu Kano. Even Murtala Nyako’s ouster was not solely an issue of corruption. He was consumed by his high-handedness, ‘eating’ alone-ness (forgive the coinage), nepotism, fighting with local and national politicians, and of course ruffling the feathers of the Villa villains. Corruption, especially in Nigeria, can be likened to intestine — it’s in everyone’s stomach.
Alhaji Balarabe Musa, the former governor of Kaduna State, was one of the earliest victims of impeachment maneuver. His crime was similar to that of late Bibi Farouk. Anambra’s then Gov. Chris Ngige’s removal from office was first of a kind. In a scene similar to action movie, Ngige’s security was withdrawn, and was immediately kidnapped. Later on, Nigerians were told ‘Ngige resigns’. Rashidi Ladoja of Oyo State was impeached for refusal to cede a portion of “security vote” to his godfather, late Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu.
Now the removal from office of Enugu State deputy governor, Sunday Onyebuchi for keeping poultry in his official residence is another saddening addendum to the Nigeria’s weird impeachment charges. Despite the fact that the state government had budgeted for the maintenance of the fowls since 2011, and the fact that Gov. Sullivan Chime himself has a piggery at the Government House, the legislators nonetheless removed Onyebuchi.
But why should bleaching be impeachable offense in Nigeria? Not always it is. Owing to bleaching, a certain deputy governor of a North Western state that recently launched a new airport is looking like a hyena. But nobody raises eyebrow because the governor didn’t mind, or perhaps because he never poked his nose into the fat bank accounts of the governor’s spoilt kids. In Nigeria it is not ‘what is good for the goose is good for the gander’. It’s the opposite.
Impeachment is cheap in Nigeria. No one can remove a public office holder solely because of corruption, especially when the target has the backing of the powers that be. After Enugu impeachment saga, I will not be surprised when a governor is impeached for keeping dog or moggy, nor will I be surprised if a deputy governor is impeached for caging a canary by his door.
To make this shenanigan lawful, I propose that some few stanzoes be added in the Seventh Schedule to the Nigerian constitution, so that the Oath of Office will read thus, “I solemnly swear that I will bear true allegiance to Vaseline and Stella Pomade alone… That I will share security vote with my godfather… That I will not bleach… That I will not rear chicken… That I will preserve the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State policy on poultry farming…”.
What is wrong if I help with this as a memo to Jonathan’s new constitution?