President Goodluck Jonathan is in the center of the storm following the National Drama on Thursday. Allegations hitherto covered by partisan persuasions are being laid bare. But how far the aggrieved legislators can go is another thing.
Great wars have often been started with few utterances. So is the unfolding battle of wits between the legislative and executive arms of government in Nigeria.
It was the seemingly inconsequential decision of the member representing Kebbe/Tambuwal Federal Constituency, Alhaji Aminu Waziri Tambuwal to defect from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, the party on whose platform he was elected into the House of Representatives that is now snowballing into a monumental battle between the National Assembly and the executive branches of government. Tambuwal who defected is, however, no ordinary member. He is the speaker of the House whose popularity as speaker has been unmatched in the history of the Fourth Republic.
It was thus significant that when the police took the unprecedented act of blocking his way to the House penultimate Thursday that it aroused a passionate wave of resentment against the executive arm of government which has control of the police.
On that day, Thursday, 20th November, 2014, the police for the first time breached the sovereignty of the legislative arm by also shooting tear gas at the speaker and other legislators who pushed the way for him to enter the National Assembly complex.
Significantly, while the police questioned the authority of Tambuwal as speaker, the members of the House of Representatives on that day did not share that doubt as they without exception accorded him the honour of speaker of the House. No one on that day questioned his authority.
It was as such not shocking that even before the legislators settled down that day that cries of impeachment of the president rented the air within the chambers of the House of Representatives.
“Jonathan must go,” We cannot tolerate this anymore,” many of the angry legislators fumed on that day.
With the sense of outrage over the treatment of their presiding officer, boiling over, members on that day immediately commenced the collection of signatures for the impeachment of the president.
By the end of the day it was claimed that not less than 120 signatures had been collected in support of an impeachment notice to be served on the president.
The move in the Senate, it was learnt has also been subtly commenced in the Senate. Senators were not the least provoked by the action of the police which some senators say is a clear violation of the Legislative Powers Act which forbids anyone from obstructing legislators from the performance of their duties.
Senators indicate interest
No fewer than 20 senators are believed to have signed a motion seeking to institute impeachment proceedings against the president.
A senator said already “more than 20 of us have signed the motion and we are edging closer to getting 2/3.”
It was gathered that the impeachment notice is being collated by a senator from one of the states of the South West geo-political zone.
“We are determined to take it to whatever level because things cannot continue like this,” he said.
Based on provisions of the 1999 Constitution, 1/3 of Senators must append their signatures to the motion before the president can be served the impeachment notice.
Consequently, 36 of the 109 members are required to activate the process of impeachment in the Senate, our correspondent reports.
Members of the House who initiated the move are said to have identified over 50 constitutional violations against the president, which would form part of the impeachment notice.
A ranking officer in the House who revealed this said both chambers have resolved to work together for the common good of the country by impeaching President Jonathan for “incompetence, corruption and unprecedented impunity.”
He revealed that the impeachment plot against the president was not a partisan affair, explaining that lawmakers from all the political parties have identified with the “cause” and will not give up until the President is “sent packing.”
“I’m sure you read the reports today that senators are going to move against Jonathan. Now you can confirm that the impeachment thing is not about APC. It is a non-partisan cause. We have all resolved that the man (President Jonathan) must go.
“Never in the history of Nigeria has a leader displayed such crass incompetence as we have seen in President Jonathan. It is glaring and you can feel it. Mr. President, with due respect, has shown that he is not capable of running this country. That is the basic truth”, he stated.
According to the lawmaker, over 50 impeachable offences have been identified against the president and members of the House would work closely with the Senate to ensure that the president is impeached.
APC lawmakers join fight
Lawmakers from the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) have also joined in the agitation.
The Minority Leader of the House and the leader of the APC Caucus, Femi Gbajabiamila, vowed that the opposition will not go to sleep in the House.
In a statement entitled: “We Will Continue to be Vigilant Against Unlawful Tactics of Jonathan,’ Gbajamiamila expressed sadness over the events that led himself and other members into scaling over the National Assembly gate before gaining entrance into the National Assembly penultimate Thursday.
Though the members may have obtained the 120 benchmark needed to commence the removal process of the president, it remains doubtable if the members would go on with the plan given the grave implications that it may entail.