Nigeria: Dividends of impeachment brouhaha …..
When on the 19th of July, this year, the minority leader of the house of representatives, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila moved a motion on the floor of the house criticizing the absolute disregard of the nations capital budget by the executive arm of government, many had criticized the members of the green chambers as self serving and aiming
to derail the nations democracy.
Supporters of Mr President willfully refused to assess this threat by its merit and national interest but at various foras and opportunities available criticized Nigeria’s opposition for taking a step too far intended at coercion and blackmail which will have dire consequences on the nation. Many of them were not shy in asserting that the impeachment plan is a calculated ploy not only to embarrass and ridicule Mr. President but also to impugn the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
One question that spectators of the impeachment saga would have loved to ask all who care to listen is if Mr President is bigger than Nigeria and should be too big to be impeached even if he is found to have contravened the constitution that gives him legitimacy and a right to govern over 160 million expectant Nigerians. Section 143 (1) of Nigeria’s 1999 constitution states inter alia: The President or Vice-President may be removed from office in accordance with the provisions of this section. Section 143 (2) states thus: whenever a notice of any allegation in writing is signed by not less that one-third of the members of the National Assembly. Section 143 (2b) states that the holder of the office of President or Vice President is guilty of gross misconduct in the performance of the functions of his office, detailed particulars of which shall be specified, the president of the senate shall within seven days of the receipt of the notice cause a copy thereof to be served on the holder of the office and on each member of the National Assembly, and shall also cause any statement made in reply to the allegation by the holder of the office to be served on each member of the National Assembly. Section 143 (11) states…. In this section – “gross misconduct” means a grave violation or breach of the provisions of this constitution or a misconduct of such nature as amounts in the OPINION of the National Assembly to gross misconduct. However, the answer to this question on whether Mr President can be impeached or not or should be impeached or not should be left for another day as this is not the intent of this piece.
The events which have sequeled that motion in the last few weeks has stressed the urgent need for all Nigerians to put their hands on deck and reconsider if the impeachment threat is indeed a brouhaha or a step in the right direction.
A look back at the budget performance in the last three years has shamefully disclosed what runs within the mindset of supposedly responsible Nigerian leaders. Non execution of the capital budget has categorically become a perennial curse as most Nigerians who are keen observers of the budget implementation process will see that tax payers monies spent in planning the budgets are wasted down the drain. This is because the budget execution process has now become a farce or maybe better, a jamboree.
The budget is divided into two major subheads known as the recurrent and capital. While the recurrent can boast that it caters for salaries and other expenses and emoluments which a lame man knows as expenses for travels, estacodes, training, conferences and etc, it is of note that over the last few years, the recurrent part of the budget has seen a 100% implementation, year in year out.
The capital part of the budget which caters for roads, infrastructure and should pay for white elephant projects sited in different parts of the country and needed to fast track development and integration of rural nigeria to its urban counterpart continues to see less that 35% implementation rate. This explains why the completion or contract awards of major roads around the country continues to be a pipe dream.
Also, it further explains why the divide between the rich and the poor continues to increase and yet Nigerians see no tangible development across the country. Those in government positions continue to amass massive wealth because the recurrent part of the budget which caters for their needs continues to be implemented, thus government in Nigeria is now the biggest business.
Economic experts have described Nigeria as defying all economic postulations and theories available. This is because whether as a critic or supporter of this administration, you must admit and give kudos to this government because the nation has in the last one year achieved economic growth. However the irony of this growth is that while bookmakers and foreign investors continue to see Nigeria as an investors haven, the gap between the rich and the poor continues to grow.
Nothing is more true than the fact that Nigeria continues to be a rich country with poor citizens. Satirically, many describe democracy in Nigeria as a government for the rich, by the rich and in the interest of the rich.
Suprisingly, the impeachment motion by Hon Gbajabiala as earlier stated has culminated in a series of events. The first notable move by the executive was the release of the over 300B Naira budgeted for the the third quarter of this fiscal year. This is a step in the right direction as the process for contractual awards of much expected projects to help the poor will be fastracked.
The most recent of moves by the executive and indeed President Goodluck Jonathan is the signing of performance contracts by serving ministers. Many of them have before now enjoyed complacency and receive tax payers salaries even in the face of non performance. The ministers are expected to drive the economic aspirations of this current administration and transform Mr. President’s transformation agenda from paperwork to reality. Therefore it is right to say that if the current administration fails in its duty to help and reach out to the poor and needy, then that failure begins on the table of the ministers.
Kudos to this administration for making a move to enforce performance among its highly exalted cadre of ministers but more kudos to the lawmakers led by Hon Femi Gbajabiamila. Indeed Nigerians have begun to see the dividends of the house of representatives suposedly impeachment brouhaha.
This goes on to sound a note of warning that the nation tends to benefit tremendously when public officers perform their obligated duties without fear or favor, not patronizing or indulging anybody no matter how highly placed that individual is, but putting the interest of Nigeria and Nigerians, first.
This piece is written by Amadin Uyi, an Abuja based journalist. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org