Nigeria is in worst economic projections since the Biafra war of 1967-70, according to a latest report on BBC Television service. The report has unarguably corroborated a statement credited to Osun State Governor, Mr Rauf Aregbesola.
Read him: “Even the civil war was not as biting as what we are facing in Nigeria now; because they did not declare economic state of emergency in Nigeria does not mean that Nigeria is not near to that.” However, I shudder at Ogbeni’s postulations when I remember how incompetently he has run the economy of the state of Osun aground. It is bad politics for him to now return such a scary verdict on the national economy in a manner as to expose the underbelly of the Federal Government and cleverly lay the blame at the doorstep of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The point made above is that Ogbeni does not have the morality to speak on the biting economic situation of the country. It is a fact that Nigeria is technically in recession and the words of the famous poet, John Pepper Clark, “we are all casualties,” make sound meaning in a time like this. It is on this premise that I find the subject of this piece, which is the letter written by the former Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the People’s Democratic Party, Chief Tony Anenih, urging his party members in the National Assembly not to join in any impeachment plot against President Buhari as well as the reasons adduced for his caution, very instructive. Ogbeni and other APC leaders should have seized the initiative, but rather, they have been quietly involved in schemes to supplant Buhari in 2019.
Indeed, the sad state of our economy should be the preoccupation of all stakeholders, especially members of the political class at the federal level; with a view to seeking how to help the President rebound the economy and not how to remove him from office. I quite agree with Anenih that: “On the economy, it is a well-known fact that all oil-producing countries are suffering from an economic down-turn because of the radical drop in the price of crude oil. As a mono-product economy, dependent on crude oil, there is no magic bubble that could have insulated us completely from the systemic shocks caused by the attendant loss of revenue. Rather than seek scapegoats, the situation demands that all our institutions, political parties and leaders should set aside all partisan interests, and work together to wade through these difficult times.” He is right on point here. This is the time when the principle of collective responsibility should be the framework of governance in Nigeria-all hands should be on deck
There is no disputing the fact that Nigerians are passing through hard times. If the tales in the social media and the public arena are anything to go by, then we may be heading for the worst case situation. The reports from the camps of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are damning and worrisome. An average of six malnourished children die daily in Bama IDP camp in Borno State, according to Geneva-based Sans Frontiers. This sad development should engage the attention of our leaders, especially those in the National Assembly. I reason with the Iyasele of Esanland that there is not enough justification for contemplating an impeachment at this juncture, more so that the precarious state of our economy and worsening standard of living are not the motivations.
Searching for a non-partisan approach to rescuing the nation at this trying moment is, indeed, a patriotic call, especially when the elder statesman has not spared his own party, the PDP, which ruled for 16 years, of blame. Read him: “I am not unaware that the times are hard; that Nigerians are groaning under the weight of unpaid salaries and astronomical increases in the cost of living, that ballooning security problems are increasingly threatening to rip apart the fabric of our national existence, and that Nigerians feel more divided today than they have ever felt, but it would be unfair to blame this President or this Government for all of these problems. Instructively, none of these problems was floated as justification for the threat of impeachment by the National Assembly.”
There is a popular saying in Yoruba land that Ile-Ife (City of Ife, the ancestral home of the Yoruba race) was created by the wisdom of the young and the old. The intervention of Anenih, at this juncture, to avert the unnecessary heating up of the polity is noble and patriotic. Has the Senate explored all necessary options? The top PDP chieftain known as Mr. Fix It in the Nigerian political circles should be in the know. But reading in between the lines in his letter, it does not seem the options have been explored let alone exhausted.
Again, in case we have forgotten, the old man’s intervention is equally reminding us of the massive distraction that the attempted impeachment of former President Olusegun Obasanjo by the House of Representatives in 2002 cost us as a nation. Like Anenih, two former leaders, General Yakubu Gowon (1967-75) and Alhaji Shehu Shagari (1979-83) had intervened in the face-off between Obasanjo and the federal lawmakers. Part of the letter sent to both chambers read: “In furtherance of our earlier efforts to talk to you on the way forward in resolving the impasse between the Legislative and Executive arms of the government, we wish to inform you that we have agreed to broker a meeting between both arms of government mentioned above. In view of this proposition, which we hope will be implemented very quickly, we are requesting that both parties should stay all actions and reactions with regard to the impeachment proceedings, pending the conclusion of these efforts.”
There is indeed a similarity in their sense of concerns. Gowon and Shagari said: “We make this plea solely in the national interest and without prejudice to your constitutional responsibilities.” In his own plea, Anenih said: “I am constrained to write this letter by my love for our great country and my long years of involvement in the pursuit of peace, co-existence and national development.” Although, the Senate is still in denial over the impeachment rumour even when plans were said to be afoot to perfect the process, it is expected that the National Caretaker Committee Chairman of the PDP, Ahmed Makarfi, to whom Anenih directed the letter for his expeditious action, will take this call as a national responsibility by leading the process of consultation with PDP members in the National Assembly.
In conclusion, our democracy is fashioned after that of the United States. It will be interesting to know that in her over 200 years of democratic journey, no president has been successfully impeached and removed from office. The only two presidents whose impeachments were carried through by the House of Representatives-Andrew Johnson (17th President) and William J Clinton (42nd)-did not receive the concurrence of the Senate. It is, therefore, instructive for the federal lawmakers to listen to the wise counsel of the Iyasele of Esanland as well as the counsel of other well-intentioned leaders and seek a political solution to this Executive-Legislature rift. They should have their eyes focused on the ball of recovery of the economy. President Buhari as the leader of the nation should do away with politically-induced trials and persecutions. He should review his strategies where necessary. At this point, we need one another to help Nigeria in the words of Anenih. I pray that other leaders would drop their partisan garbs and lend their genuine voices in support of Buhari’s stability and success in office.
- Mr Adeyanju, public affairs commentator, resides in Ibadan.