IN Africa political Kingdom, historical developments had been repeated with impeachments. Leaders who flouted Kingdoms’ established norms, cultures, laws were removed by persons, institutions and bodies set up as checks and balances.
For example, in old Oyo Kingdom in Western Nigeria, many Kings were made to ‘open the calabash’- the traditional impeachment process and such leaders were banished from the throne. The Oyomesis had to have the majority to remove an erring Alaafin.
To be a member of the Oyomesis is one of the most prestigious offices one could hold in Oyo town even today, as there is long standing integrity, thoroughness and sacredness attached to it.
Since independence, hardly had there been a government and constitution in Nigeria that the issue of removing leaders had not been germane to.
The modus operandi, modes and models of impeachment in Nigeria had been novel, more bizarre, more crude with each passing republic, and contrary to commonsense not to talk of globally accepted standards and practices.
The Peoples Democratic party (PDP) had demonstrated flavor for illegal impeachments more than other parties in Nigeria. For example, on 16th October 2006, Ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo declared a state of emergency in Ekiti State after the hurried unconstitutional impeachment of Governor Ayodele Fayose. Retired soldier, General Tunji Olurin was subsequently appointed as Sole Administrator.
To impeach Peter Obi and bar him from staying in office between 17th March to 2nd November, 2006 representatives of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo met in neighbouring Asaba, Delta State and were subsequently accompanied to Akwa to finalize the impeachment under heavy security provided by the mobile police unit. The House of Assembly members arrived Akwa at 5:00am and they began sitting afterwards.
Eventually, Peter Obi was impeached. On 13th November 2006, ex –Governor of Plateau State, Joshua Dariye suffered the same fate.
Pacesetter Oyo State’s ex-Governor Rashidi Adewolu Ladoja was impeached on Thursday January 12, 2006 in an Hotel rather than the normal sitting of the legislators at the State House of Assembly. Notice of impeachment was served the victim through newspapers and the impeachment was carried out by 18 legislators loyal to the strong man of Ibadan politics and garrison commandant , the late Lamidi Adedibu instead of the legal requirement of 22 legislators.
Due to the hurried venal nature, there was unavailability of affidavit of the suspension and the declaration of lack of jurisdiction of the High Court was set aside. Only God saved Ladoja’s life from the evil death machinery of PDP set against him like war landmine under the auspices of ex-General Olusegun Obasanjo.
Similarly, late Diepreye Alamieyeseigha was impeached as the executive governor of Bayelsa State, on 9 December 2005 for alleged corruption which includes, theft of public funds, abuse of office, and money laundering while, Murtala Nyako of Adamawa State was also a victim of same allegations in July 2014.
Many years later, the same scenario and episode replayed itself in oil-rich Rivers State. In July 2013, five PDP Legislators without meeting the statutory requirements attempted to serially impeach the Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, and the Governor Oluwarotimi Amaechi. It did not matter to them what the majority legislators felt or the tenets of the Constitution.
Many twists and turns, blackmails, lies, disorderliness, intrigues, manipulation, shameful fracas, injuries, deaths and potential deaths juxtaposed the democratic foolery of these five legislators.
In between these occurrences, over the years in the various States’ Houses of Assembly, same shameful retrogressive democratic imbroglios had similarly played themselves out at both the hallowed chambers of the Senate and House of Representatives, among ‘honourable’ members.
Nigerians could recollect seeing Dimeji Bankole watched the boxing bout and drama among his fellow ‘distinguished’ colleagues right inside the hallowed chamber he presided over few years ago. What Nigerians find comical and ironical is that despite these evidences of idleness in our hallowed chambers, our legislators are the highest paid in the world!
Some of the above scenarios were orchestrated by educated and enlightened leaders; so the problem of wanton impeachments without recourse to due process is not lack of basic education by perpetrators who carried them out with impunity.
In saner climes, impeachment processes are well articulated, legalized and enshrined as instruments of socio-political developments towards ensuring good governance, accountability, checks and balances of leaders’ excesses. In Nigeria, the monster of impeachment had been set loose as tormentors of the democratic experiment and elected leaders. Poverty of ideas, dearth of decent approach in matters, poverty of the mind and of the pockets, fuel impeachments in Nigeria.
Impeachers had used and are using impeachment against the impeached as instruments of vendetta, brutality, cruelty, bestiality, flagrant show of ego and globally- rated indecency.
When will sanity be brought to this continual cannibalistic orgy of ugly shame, being masqueraded as impeachment and or at least witness some sanity in the conception and execution of impeachments in Nigeria?
Until saner men are brought to governance in Nigeria and God fearing people who have alternative means of livelihood embrace politics and elective positions in Nigeria and the emoluments and perquisites attached to elective officers reflect passion to serve and made so financially unattractive.
Until we revert to part time-legislature. Then it would not be a do or die affair. There shall be disagreements between opposing views based on principles, divergent reasoning’s, conviviality, dialogue, peace and progress.
The interest of the nation, not of individual pockets, shall then be paramount. Then, we shall have soundness and sanity from the hallowed chambers of honourable members.
May God give our country real men and leaders who will be ruled not by their bellies but by reasoning, who can mentor younger generations and will not be ashamed to answer questions to be posed to them by their children and grand children.
Imagine your children ask you the question, ‘Dad, did you do this, are you the one in that picture?’ Nigerians need democratically-compliant leaders, not war mongers.
In 1949 at the inauguration of the United Nations Chapter on Human Rights, American President Truman said ‘regard for human rights is indispensable to political, economic and social progress…..disregard for human rights is the beginning of tyranny and, too often, the beginning of war’.
Like Truman’s America, God, please give Nigeria true men, please.
By Dr. Ajibola Esuola, Idowu Ayodele.
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