Editorial: Gale Of Impeachment, A Call For Caution In The Interest Of Sustenance Of Our Democracy

Editorial: Gale Of Impeachment, A Call For Caution In The Interest Of Sustenance Of Our Democracy
May 08 20:47 2015 Print This Article

assemblyThe gale of impeachment in the states houses of assembly sweeping across the country in the last few weeks has become a source of worry and threat to good democratic governance in the country.

There is no gainsaying the fact that impeachment is a necessary and important mechanism to check excesses of political leaders.

But, a development that the process is now been abused and turned to a tool for personal vendetta calls for serious concern by well meaning Nigerians and lovers of democracy.

We are not ignorant of the fact that the nation’s Constitution provides for the impeachment of the President, the Vice President, Governors and their deputies, Speakers and others but we insist that this should be carried out following laid down procedures.

It would be recalled that under the 1979 Constitution, only Alhaji Balarabe Musa of the defunct People’s Redemption Party [PRP] of the old Kaduna State was impeached by a house dominated by the defunct National Party of Nigeria [NPN].

Since the return of democracy in 1999, a number of elected officials have been impeached by their state houses of assembly in a controversial manner neglecting due process, where decorum and caution are thrown to the wind.

Most of them were carried out without having regard to constitutional provisions.

In some of the impeachment process, the court had to step in to reverse them but the collateral damage to democracy for such ill conceived contrived and executed impeachment is already taken its tolls.

Threats of impeachment are now been used as a tool of blackmail against elected officials.

There is need to caution the officials concerned – the lawmakers not to use impeachment as a tool of vendetta at the least provocation.

The Constitution states clear processes to be complied with in impeaching a governor or other officials but what have been seen so far is compliance more in the breach.

For instance, there are cases in some states where the panels set up by the chief judge to investigate the charges leveled against the official, sit for a few hours and conclude deliberations.

It often takes the house less than 30 minutes to move a motion and impeach a sitting elected official.

This is a mockery of the provisions of the impeachment process.

A case which readily comes to mind was the recent impeachment of the Ondo State Deputy Governor, Alhaji Alli Olanusi who was removed within a twinkle of an eye in spite of the fact that he was not in the country to even defend himself.

The houses of assembly at the state level which have the constitutional role of serving as a check on the executive arm of government have had more impeachment threats against their presiding officers within the last few weeks.

As at today, there are many speakers whose jobs are threatened by impeachments.

The last one week saw the Enugu and Niger States Houses of Assembly been embroiled in near fisticuffs to the extent that men of the Nigeria Police Force had to come to the rescue.

We cannot forget the case of Edo State Assembly, the first state in Nigeria to have a ‘bicameral’ legislature while the crisis rocking the Rivers State assembly is still fresh in our mind.

It was even reported that a particular house of assembly, impeached a speaker while on recess.

What was the emergency in carrying out such an act in such a brazen manner?

Curiously, no governor has received any impeachment notice for failure to pay salaries or abdication of duty on security matters.

There is the compelling need for the various national and state assembly members to emulate match officials of football who even though they have a red card in their pockets, only use it as a last result.

Football matches would become rancorous if every offences is visited with a red card.

The relationship between governors and their deputies which usually deteriorate in their second term rising from succession struggles should be handled with care by both parties.

The voters’, who stayed in the sun, defying all odds to vote, is interested in good governance and nothing more.

Perhaps at this point, We in FrontiersNews in particular and Nigerians in general would like to know how many bills tailored towards the benefits of the citizenry besides impeaching political officials at any available opportunity, these legislators have sponsored and passed, inspite of huge resources expended on their salaries, allowances and other largesse of office.

Also, what meaningful development in terms of jobs, infrastructure, economic prosperity, and international recognition have they brought to their constituencies?

We are recommending that the incoming National Assembly members make impeachment process much more tedious as like the recall process for legislature during any subsequent constitutional reviews they may intend to embark on.

This, we believe we ensure stability in the polity and safe our hard earned democracy.

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