The Kogi impeachment debacle and the danger of precedence

By Editor on 20/10/2019

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Nigeria, the theatre of absurdist political drama and the butt of leadership taunts of the world is regaling its global audience once again with another show of macabre dance. This time, the drums are beating in Kogi State.

The negative vibes, for those who know the signs, cannot, but flick on the red lights once again as to the further danger the National Project, is being exposed through its wacky version of democracy. To say that the Kogi events presents another force pushing the entire nation towards the edge of the precipice, is indeed, putting the threat mildly.

That is why we must condemn this development from the outset in the greatest manner possible. Let it be on record that is on the side of rule of law, sound judgement and morality in this case once again as in always.

It is surprising this ugly, odiferous and highly condemnable drama is happening in a state, which presents the nation’s youngest governor in the current political history. The consequences are grave, to say the least, because it evidences the result of dangerous admixture of impunity with youth as a counter argument to the Not Too Young To Run advocacy and for many other reasons.

Incidentally, this phenomenon of impunity did not start with Kogi. What is playing out with the Kogi State House of Assembly, with regards to the impeachment of Simon Achuba, until Friday, Deputy Governor of the state and second in command to Governor Yahaya Bello, is in fact another dimension to which the political players in Nigeria are willing to push the envelope with its bizarre and utterly outlandish politics.   

It is the outcome of the germination and nurturing of the seed of political infamy, planted by President Olusegun Obasanjo, which successive governments, from his immediate, but shortlived successor, Umaru Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan, manured and watered at one time or the other. May be a piece of history.

When Malam Nuhu Ribadu, Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), as he then was, stormed the Bayelsa State House of Assembly and arrested its members, in the twilight of 2005, the target was then Governor, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha. Though the mission was couched in the garb of anti-corruption fight, it was actually a proxy war decked in vengeance for his boss, Obasanjo.

The story was that the former President, was piqued by the rabid audacious push for Resource Control by the late Bayelsa governor and his then counterpart from Delta State, James Ibori, and his attempt to stop them, led to frontal confrontations, an affront which every military man, no less a General of Nigerian variant like Obasanjo, sees as mortal sin. The introduction of corruption, a lascivious song that makes Nigeria lose all sense of reasoning, was just all it was - salt for taste.

Well, Alams, as he was popularly called and Ibori eventually had their way by winning the 13 per cent derivation through the National Assembly, but they paid dearly for it. No need revisiting how the two powerful former Niger Delta governors ended up in their political careers.

 What is not in doubt is that the Ribadu war against the two former governors is far less an anti-corruption fight, as it had to do with satisfying a particular tendency in the nation’s power play and political trajectory at that time.

Of course, the world watched as the gale, once Ribadu’s Bayelsa experiment succeeded, swept through Plateau with Joshua Dariye, Ekiti, Ayo Fayose to Oyo’s Rasheed Ladoja and other places where Obasanjo had enemy governors.

What is more? It was the Ribadu scare, as a result of his exploits with the uncanny impeachment weaponry that left the polity bare for Obasanjo to solely play with the political process as he wished without challenge, as all those in the mould of Peter Odili of Rivers State, retreated to their cocoons, leaving the stage for him to crown the sick Yar’Adua-Jonathan Presidency. The rest is now history.

But, it would not be left to be said that had that spectre of impeachment not been hovering in the horizon, the polity and the political space might have been more competitive. It would have been thrown open and left to the highest bidder with the competency and capacity to emerge as President.

In that case, there might not have been a Yar’Adua that died and a “weak and incompetent” Jonathan. There might have been a different President that could have prevented the type of leadership eye-earsore being witnessed at the moment.

Indeed, it could even have been General Muhammadu Buhari, at a time he was younger and not inhibited by the vagaries of old age and sickness that would have emerged at a time all his elements were, stronger and firmer to have allowed himself be ringed and manipulated by the so-called Aso Rock cabal.

Therein lies the danger of Kogi. There is no telling the fact that the Kogi situation, presents, not only a new dimension, but a far worse variant to what Nigeria saw under Ribadu. In the latter case, there was an attempt to go through the gamut of the process, even in its brokenness. Then, it was the issue of either not having the numbers or arresting the assembly members and forcing them to carry out their wishes will-nilly.

But that of Kogi is clearly the zenith of impunity. Here, simple statement was all it took to announce the impeachment, without any evidence of the House sitting to carry it out, even without the numbers. What is more, even the panel that investigated the alleged infraction that was supposed to give credence to the charges of gross misconduct, the only condition for impeachment, returned a – Not Guilty verdict.

From whence then did the impeachment come? That is the question and that is the clear danger! Has it now come to a stage where it no longer requires the say so of the members no matter how few? Is it now a matter of press statemen? Is that the new dimension?

Yes, Nigeria has seen it happen under Ribadu. Yes, notwithstanding that each of them was overturned by the courts, it was not after the original purpose was achieved, irrespective of the irreparable damage.

In the instant case therefore, the case of the “impeached” Kogi Deputy Governor, is a given, if tested in court, setaris paribus. But, Bello, et al, knowing that much, might not be concerned with that outcome, as much as they are that Achuba is out of the way and serves his initial punishment, which in the main, is for the sin of entertaining a different view from the governor.

That is why Nigeria must rise again to speak out against this fatal blow to its democratic wellbeing. The voice of reason must be trumpeted loud and clear. It must not be seen as a Kogi issue, far removed from the rest of the country. It must not be seen as Their Issue. Each patriotic Nigeria must gather and own this fight.

Indeed, General Muhammadu Buhari, as President, has taken Obasanjo’s impunity and scant regard for democratic ethos to a new high. Indeed, nothing else so far, comes close to what the world saw in the bid to remove the former Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Walter Onnoghen. What may surpass it is likely to be what would come in future, starting with Kogi.

This, like Ribadu-Obasanjo alchemy, presents a cocktail for disaster, if not hemlock for the death of our democracy. We must shout, not for them to stop, because to them, really, our complaing equates to the trumpetting of crickets at night, we must shout for the world to hear us and for posterity to know where we stand at this time, hoping that a Just God, will intervene once again. Let us Shout!




Posted on October, 20 2019

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