Impeachment: The waiting game between Ambode, Lagos lawmakers
The Lagos State governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, is in the eye of the storm ahead the 2019 general election, following threats of impeachment by the state House of Assembly headed by Mudashiru Obasa, with the speaker, saying on Monday that only the governor could save himself from being removed, writes BOLA BADMUS.
Lagos State governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode and the State House of Assembly under the leadership of Mudashiru Obasa may still be having a score to settle with each other despite the fact that the governor lost out in the last governorship primaries of his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) to pick his second term ticket to enable him contest for another four-year term, come 2019.
Ambode had lost out in the exercise to a three-time commissioner in the state, Olusola Sanwo-Olu on account that he had sidelined the party apparatus that contributed largely to bringing him to power in 2015. His political godfather, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, even confirmed this assessment of the governor to newsmen, declaring that dropping Ambode for Sanwo-Olu was the decision of party leaders and members across the state.
The latest battle that Ambode would have to fight would be to address the impeachment threat by the Lagos State House of Assembly against him. Two weeks ago, following unresolved crisis over mounting refuse across parts of the state, raising concerns on likely breakout of epidemic and the apparent incapacity of the company put in charge to do the job, the Visionscape, the House ordered that the Private Sector Participants (PSP), which had been partnering in waste management and disposal but were sacked by Visionscape, go back to the job.
In response to the people’s concern on the plot against Ambode, Obasa, at the plenary session penultimate Monday, said there were no moves by the Lagos State House of Assembly to impeach the governor.
He revealed that he had received several telephone calls and enquiries from prominent members of the public over the alleged impeachment moves against Ambode, describing what people had engaged in as mere insinuation.
According to Obasa, a faction of the APC led by Fuad Oki had been insinuating that the Lagos State House of Assembly had threatened Ambode to open the state treasury for them, else he would be removed. Obasa was not done yet as he added that should there be an impeachment process, it would be done in the open and everybody would be a witness to it. He, however, stated that the state assembly was working with the governor to ensure peace and development in Lagos.
Also speaking, the Majority Leader, Sanai Agunbiade, added that the constitutional procedure for impeachment does not harbour secrecy, saying that members of the public would know if Ambode would be removed.
Speaking against the development, Oki warned the state assembly to desist from carrying out its threat to impeach Ambode, else it would face the anger of the people.
Also, a Lagos- based civil rights movement, Save Lagos Group (SLG), following the alleged threat said it had concluded arrangement to picket the Lagos State House of Assembly.
The group through a statement made available to newsmen by the group’s convener, Adeniyi Alimi Sulaiman, noted that the Assembly’s action was not in the interest of the people but an attempt to create confusion in Lagos.
“It is a shame on the leadership of the party that is claiming to be different in deeds from the main opposition political party (PDP). For us, we believe that impeachment process in any democratic clime would be against poor performance of a holder of certain executive offices.
“Truly, we are not members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and we should be less concerned on their matter but as a responsible and responsive civil society organisation that believes in good governance, we cannot fold our arms by allowing certain individuals to lay a bad precedence for our hard earned democracy. Our democracy should be allowed to grow beyond the interest of godfatherism,” the group stated.
Sulaiman, who doubles as the executive chairman, Centre for Human Rights and Social Justice (CHRSJ), therefore, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to prevail on the APC leaders in the state to caution the leadership of the State House of Assembly against illegal attempt to remove Ambode, warning that such attempt might be catastrophic for the state.
In his reaction, the gubernatorial candidate of the Lagos State chapter of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), Olumuyiwa Fafowora said it was wrong for the State House of Assembly to order the PSP to go back to the streets for waste management and disposal, declaring that its duty was to make laws while that of the executive arm of government was to implement those laws.
Fafowora, who spoke at the party secretariat at Onipanu area of the state, said the lawmakers had overstepped their boundary by issuing the directive.
The ADC governorship candidate, however, called for a truce between the governor and the state assembly, declaring that the situation on ground did not call for trading of blames or buck-passing.
“The situation we are now in is not to start passing blames; we are talking of environmental disaster, there is garbage everywhere, we don’t want that in the state, all of us are stakeholders.
“The governor should go to the Assembly and call all the stakeholders and tell us the way forward. He is still going to be governor till May 2019, passing the buck would not do any good,” Fafowora affirmed.
Reading through the statement made on the floor of the House by the speaker, Obasa, analysts are of the view that the lawmakers had not in any way ruled out the possibility of sponsoring an impeachment process against Ambode as the speaker made it clear that the onus of not making such happen rests on the governor himself. The statement would have been much different if the lawmakers had enjoyed a better relationship with the governor.
It will be recalled that at the signing of the 2018 budget of the state by Governor Ambode, which took some time almost qualifying for the period stipulated in the constitution for a veto and none of the lawmakers could say or give any reason for the delay, none of the principal officer or members of the House was present, giving reasons for people to think that indeed that there was some form of crisis between the governor and the State House of Assembly. That was not long before the speaker, Obasa, declared publicly that Visionscape “is a ghost company” in Lagos.
Governor Akinwunmi Ambode will not be flying the party’s flag, come 2019, but his strong support, which he had since promised the candidate of the APC, Olusola Sanwo-Olu, would have to be demonstrated and clearly seen, enough to ensure victory for the party in the 2019 governorship poll, else he might be considered for impeachment any time soon.
Therefore, it is a waiting game between Governor Akinwunmi Ambode and the Lagos State House of Assembly under the leadership of Hon. Mudashiru Obasa, but like Obasa said or promised, it is a game that is going to be in the open.