Dedicated to Nigeria's socio-political issues
October 3, 2007 - December 2, 2007
Why Obasanjo and Atiku Should Not Be Impeached
Mobolaji E. Aluko, PhD
Burtonsville , MD, USA
INTRODUCTION – AN EMBARRASSING FIASCO
Quite frankly, with the unfolding embarrassing international fiasco between President Olusegun Obasanjo and Vice-President Atiku Abubakar – complete with each asking the other to resign, all enveloped in accusations and counter-accusations over PTDF funds and TIB/ETB banks; Jefferson/iGate and Fasawe/NDTV; Pariya and Adeyanju; Mofas and Marine Float Accounts; PDP and mistresses; Transcorp and Blind Trusts; with Remi Oyo/Garba Shehu carrying their bosses' water publicly and EFCC/National Assembly in the thick of affairs – the average Nigerian will be forgiven if he proclaims "Pox on all their houses!" She will be forgiven if she demands that they both be impeached and lose their privileged status as the heads of the Blackest nation in the world.
No one of them looks good either from behind or from the front: they both shame the Presidency, and at the minimum they deserve official censure. One should not be impeached without the other though, yet impeaching both of them would not be wise.
Here is why.
THE IMPEACHMENT OPTION
According to Section 146(2) of the 1999
Constitution, in the absence of both the President and Vice-President, the
Senate President (in this case Senator Ken Nnamani) will become president
and must arrange for elections within 3 months, after which the winner will
hold office for the rest of the un-expired time of the last holder:
Here is what that means: as of today, only President Obasanjo has sent some documents to the Senate and House merely "informing" them about Vice-President Atiku's numerous infractions, but hinting that impeachment proceedings against him might be a wise decision. One can expect that any day now, Vice-President Atiku, armed with all the documents that he has been revealing publicly, also has the capacity (and presence of mind) to retaliate and place similar "information" before the National Assembly.
Now, if next week Tuesday (say September 26, the first day of next week's National Assembly meetings), an impeachment notice is given, and proceedings are started against both Obasanjo and Atiku, then it is likely that it will take at least one month to successfully impeach them. That takes us to October 31. Then starting November 1, 2006 as the new President, Senator Nnamani (after probably choosing House Speaker Bello Masari as new Vice-President) must arrange for elections before February 1, 2007.
Nnamani may want to complicate matters by firing INEC's chairman Prof. Maurice Iwu instantly, and choose a new person entirely who will have to learn the ropes. If President Nnamani means well – that is, if he does not have a secret agenda, or does not become tempted or "earnestly urged," to extend himself BEYOND May 29, 2007 – he would do well to retain Prof. Iwu. Iwu might then (as usual) confidently declare that yes, he can hold the elections on Saturday, January 20, 2007 . Hopefully, that will be just enough time to count and announce election results before February 1, assuming there are no major issues.
Now if the newly-elected president begins February 1, 2007 , the current holder (Obasanjo)'s term ending May 31, 2007 means that the elected president will be in power for only 4 months !
Luckily, before those four months are
past, we still have the already scheduled state and federal elections April
14 and April 21 – to elect those who will go from 2007 to 2011. Yet we are
not sure that INEC is even quite ready for the presently scheduled
presidential election for April 21, 2007 or the run-offs anticipated. How
will it then be able run presidential elections in January 2007, and another
one in April 2007?
So, dear compatriots, do you see the dilemma that we are in? Much as we would like to, we cannot afford to impeach both of these gentlemen: We are most probably stuck with them till 2007! A strong National Assembly censure of them is in order though, while we just "beg" or frighten them to leave us alone come May 29, 2007 – after also "forcing" them to organize free and fair elections.
THE MILITARY OPTION
Before discussing this anathema, it is appropriate to condole the Military, the nation and family members, friends and associates of the deceased over the tragic air accident over the hills of Benue State which took the lives of ten generals and three others on Sunday, September 17, 2006. Out of Nigeria's five military divisions (1, 2, 3, 81st and 82 nd) , the lives of two of their General Officers Commanding – Major-General A. Nuhu Bamali of the 2 nd Div. and Major-General J.O. Adesunloye of the 81st Division (both appointed just in March 2006) – were taken so suddenly. Others who died include Major-General. J.O. Agbola, Major-General.S . O. Otubu, Major-General S. M. Lemu, Major-General. J. T. U. Ahmedu,Major-General P. M. Haruna, Major-General. D. Duniya, Brigadier-General Y. J. Braimah, Brigadier-General M. B. Bawa and Lieutenant-Colonel N. A. Mohammed and the pilot.
One hopes that a full probe will be conducted, and the results released, so that all suspicions of foul play are squelched.
Whatever be the case, the present fiasco at the Presidency should not be an invitation, witting or unwitting, for the Military to return. Many of us submit that most of our current problems are a result of past military and paramilitary incursions and abysmal misrule, and that it would be a retrograde step to go back to military rule, despite frustrations about the "quasi-military" civilian administration that we now have. Supporting empirical evidence is that while the military has interrupted civilian rule only twice (in 1966 and in 1979), the military have interrupted THEIR OWN GOVERNMENTS successfully or unsuccessfully at least eight times over the years. Consequently, their own verdict is fully against their own rule.
Our current frustrations at our leaders particularly at the national level should move us to insist on fresh rulers in 2007 DEVOID of military baggage – that is with full civilian credentials. We must insist on leaders who are freely and fairly elected, with vision and team leadership skills, and fully prepared to be always accountable, transparent and to act with integrity.
The road to such a desirable outcome should FULLY begin on October 7, when registration for the elections has been announced to begin. INEC should not be allowed to cut any corners with the exercise and others, and must be required to be accountable and transparent in displaying who is registered in what ward.
In another essay, I have also in the past called for a move UP of the April 14/21 dates to the end of February 2007, because the constricting Section 132(2) of the Constitution often cited for choosing such a cramped schedule before May 29 is badly written and cannot stand legal test if violated. That section states that:
132(2) An election to the said office shall be held on a date not earlier than sixty days and not later than thirty days before the expiration of the term of office of the LAST holder of that office.
It is significant to note that it reads "last holder" rather than the CURRENT holder. The last holder of the title "president" in Nigeria is General Babangida (an unelected military ruler) or better yet, President Shehu Shagari, who was elected in 1979, re-elected in 1983 but couped within three months in December 1983!
What that means is that if the political and judicial classes in Nigeria can insist and agree that nothing is being violated by ignoring this Section 132(2), then the nation through INEC can buy one to two more months to give our electoral process next year more breathing space.
I rest my case for now.
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This page was last updated on 10/27/07.