Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State scared no few Nigerians when he revealed that the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), wasn’t aware that bandits had threatened to abduct him.
That’s after the attack and killing of two members of the President’s advance party to his hometown, Daura, for the July 2022 Eid el Kabir celebrations, and two officers of the Brigade of Guards, the Nigeria Army’s elite corps that guards the President.
Also, after bandits abducted school kids on a Black Friday that the President visited Daura in 2021, another set of bandits breached the security of Nigeria Defence Academy, Nigeria’s elite military academy, killing two and abducting an Army Major.
The killing of about 40 worshippers in a Catholic church in Owo, Ondo State, killing and abduction of the Abuja-Kaduna bound train passengers and kidnap of high school kids in Niger State show the Nigerian state as a sleeping leviathan.
When you consider the President’s statement that he’s in a hurry to return to Daura next year, and presidency statement that Buhari had done his best to equip the military to take the battle to the insurgents, terrorists and bandits, you may be justified to conclude that the President is overwhelmed.
Buhari, who swore to protect the lives and property of Nigerians, is now acting as if he doesn’t know why people want him to provide them security. He’s like someone who can’t give what he doesn’t have.
Reports that the N4.85trn allocated to the military under his watch was lost to corruption show that Buhari has probably lost the half-hearted anticorruption war.
Some insinuated that the war against insurgency was a scam even under President Goodluck Jonathan. Nigerians were later told that the $3.2bn war chest was diverted by Jonathan political appointees and military top brass.
Concerned Nigerians argued that corruption robbed Nigerians of security, developmental projects like roads, bridges and railways, and social goods like education, hospitals and housing.
Senators who gave the President six weeks to mend the insecurity in the nation or face impeachment may think that the continuously deteriorating insecurity of the nation is evidence that Buhari is unaware of things happening around the country.
But by giving the President six weeks to fix the nation’s insecurity problem or face impeachment, and then proceeding on an unnecessary recess, the Senate gives the impression of unseriousness about its own demands.
The notice was either a knee-jerk reaction to the fear of terrorists or bandits closing in on the Federal Capital Territory, or a politically correct statement to fool the electorate ahead of the next general elections.
An interesting news story is going round the social media, claiming that the presidential candidate of a political party is asking the Senate not to impeach the President because it may upset an imaginary political applecart.
He may be privy to some intelligence report, and unproven conspiracy theory that some mischievous Nigerians are contriving these series of violence to create an excuse to scuttle the forthcoming 2023 general elections.
Another presidential candidate is rumored to have claimed that the President is setting Nigeria up for a coup. Ha! Others even suggested that the idea is to instigate conditions that would cause the invocation of Section 305 of the 1999 Constitution to call for a state of emergency, and extend the tenure of Buhari.
Governor Aminu Tanbuwal of Sokoto State, of opposition People’s Democratic Party, and former ally of President Buhari, has openly declared that Nigeria is rudderless, possibly without a clear leadership.
With the lousy six-week notice of intention to impeach the President, the earliest time the process will commence won’t be earlier than mid-September 2022. And if the impeachment process indeed commences, it will take at least four months and 15 days before conclusion.
Thus the conclusion of the impeachment process will about coincide with the February 2023 presidential election. You then want to ask if the Senate is really serious about an impeachment that can only be concluded at the tail end of the Buhari regime.
Section 143(4) of the 1999 Constitution requires at least one-third of members of both chambers of the National Assembly to declare that allegations of gross misconduct against the President should be investigated.
It will take more than a miracle for a National Assembly dominated by the All Progressives Congress members to rack up the number to impeach one of their own.
Like it was with the hegemonic Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Nigeria’s ruling political party-in this case, the APC-is practically superior to the Nigerian state.
It will take a recalibration of political alliances for a significant number of APC members in the National Assembly to cross the carpet before the impeachment of Buhari can happen. So those 12, or so, senators rumoured to be thinking of defecting from the APC may just be the pointer to a looming political tsunami.
But then, Nigerian politicians don’t do things for altruistic reasons, or in the interest of the people. They only work to advance their private interest, which they cleverly couch and present as national interest.
The 1999 Constitution provides that a President (or Vice President) may be impeached on the grounds of gross misconduct, an elastic, amoebic and imprecise value that is as sure as catching a cloud.
Section 143(11) of the Constitution states, “‘Gross misconduct’ means a grave violation or breach of the provisions of the constitution, or a misconduct of such nature as amounts, in the opinion of the National Assembly, to gross misconduct.”
If you’ve heard that Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, is reported to have stalled, prevaricated and tried to disallow the Senate from discussing the impeachment matter during plenary, you should remember that he once promised that this 9th Senate was going to always grant Buhari whatever he wanted.
By the way, one is tempted to wonder if El Rufai’s unnecessary disclosure of the President’s ignorance of an openly stated threat to both his life and that of Buhari by a band of bandits was hinting at something.
Could El Rufai be reminding the Federal Cabinet to activate Section 144 of the 1999 Constitution to save the President and the rest of Nigerians from worse days than they are already experiencing under an inattentive President?
Section 144 provides that, “After a resolution passed by two-thirds of… members of the Executive Council… declare(s) that the President… is incapable of discharging the functions of his office;
“And the declaration is verified, after such medical examination as may be necessary, by a medical panel… (of five medical practitioners in Nigeria appointed by the Senate President), one of whom shall be the personal physician of (the President)…
“The President shall cease to hold office as from the date of the publication of the notice of the medical report (in the Official Gazette of the Government of the Federation, signed by the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives).”
By seemingly being inattentive to his responsibilities in the face of scary insecurity, Buhari seems to be courting the possibility of the Senate using Sections 143 or 144 of the 1999 Constitution to jolt him to attention.
He should make such moves unnecessary.