What’s next with Nyako down, Al-Makura under threat?
As the country moves towards the 2015 general elections, President Goodluck Jonathan appears to be showing his true colour. Tuesday’s impeachment of Murtala Nyako, the commencement of a similar plot to remove Nasarawa State Governor Umaru Al-Makura and several developments on the political scene, say analysts, suggest that Nigeria is fast turning into a one-party state, reports Deputy Political Editor RAYMOND MORDI
With the impeachment of former Adamawa State Governor Murtala Nyako of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the commencement of the process of removing another governor of the same party in Nasarawa State, Tank Al-Makura, Nigeria may be heading for a one-party state. Nyako was impeached on Tuesday by the House of Assembly, after 18 of the 25 members consented to the contents of the report of the panel which indicted him for alleged financial recklessness. His deputy, Bala Ngilari, resigned on Tuesday morning . His purported letter of resignation was read ahead of the day’s plenary by the former Speaker, Umaru Fintiri, who was sworn in as acting governor. Following this development, the PDP has taken over the state.
Members of the Nasarawa State House of Assembly on Tuesday began impeachment proceedings against Al-Makura, who is also of the APC. The House directed its Clerk, Ego Maikeffi, to serve Al-Makura with an impeachment notice for alleged gross misconduct and misappropriation of funds the day before. The notice was signed by 20 of the 24 lawmakers during a sitting presided over by the Speaker, Ahmed Mohammed. The 16-count charge borders on alleged extra-budgetary expenses by the governor.
The plot to remove Al-Makura has been on for some time. The PDP has been angling to carry out the impeachment for over a year , using members of the Assembly, which is dominated by the opposition party, which was the ruling party before it was defeated by the APC. Indeed, Al- Makura’s Special Adviser on Special Duties Mohammed Abdullahi , alleged that members of the Assembly collected about N30 million each for the impeachment.
Aside from Adamawa and Nasarawa, a political crisis allegedly being fuelled by the PDP is simmering in Edo, Rivers, Ogun and a number of other states controlled by the APC. In Edo State, for instance, following a string of defections from the APC to the PDP, a crisis over the control of the Assembly has ensued. The House is now polarised along party lines and can hardly function. The allegation is that the former APC members who defected to the PDP were financially induced to do so.
In Rivers State, the PDP made an unsuccessful attempt to unseat Governor Rotimi Amaechi in May, last year, when eight lawmakers in the Assembly joined the camp of the Minister of State for Education, Nyesom Wike, bringing to 13 the number of anti-Amaechi lawmakers. But, the attempt to impeach the Speaker, who is loyal to Amaechi, backfired and so the process was stalled. The situation in Rivers now is one of uneasy calm, but the PDP, it is believed, has not given up.
With these developments, the opposition party is being emasculated in the power equation, as the country approaches the crucial 2015 general elections, no thanks to the machinations of the ruling PDP. This is made possible by the willingness of the ruling party to muscle its way through, using the financial wherewithal available to it from its vantage position.
The convener of the Nigerian Voters’ Assembly, a civil society group, Moshood Erubami, believes the PDP is getting ready to slam a one-party state on Nigeria.
He said: “Unfortunately when you look at the President and his mien, he looks so gentle, but when you see his body language and manifestations, you will know that he is a man that Nigerians should beware of. My fear is that the after-effect of all this anarchy might wake the military up and nobody can predict the end of the saga.”
A Lagos-based lawyer and the immediate past chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ikeja branch, Monday Ubani, described Jonathan’s latest antics to neutralise the opposition before 2015 as “absurdity of the highest order.” Ubani declined further comment, saying it is a bad omen for the general elections.
Nyako’s crisis is premised on his attempt to pilot the ship of state against the direction preferred by his former benefactors. He was removed, following a prolonged political crisis that started with the bickering within ruling PDP over control of the state between him and then National Party Chairman Bamanga Tukur. Observers say Nyako would have been sitting pretty as governor, but for his conflict with the party that brought him into office and his hard, rebellious posture against Jonathan.
Erubami said: “Nyako was not a thief when he was dancing to their tune, but since he joined the APC, he has become a thief. By extension, all the governors that defected to APC are now rogues and must be given rogue treatment. But, they should not forget that Nigerians are not stupid; we know whose script is being played out. Very soon all their strategies and tactics would come home to roost.
“It is a very big threat to our democracy because the process through which Nyako was impeached is very much unconstitutional. The man went to court before the committee started sitting, but they ignored it. Where the rule of law is set aside in preference for personal ambition is an anathema to democratic norms.”
He told The Nation on Tuesday that: “We know those who are writing the script. It is not strange; we have witnessed a situation where seven legislators attempted to impeach a speaker in an assembly that has over 15 members, all in bid to remove the governor. We are hearing about Nasarawa now. So, where they cannot rig elections, what they do is to impeach?”
Elder statesman and Second Republic politician Alhaji Tanko Yakassai noted that whosoever advised Nyako and his deputy to shun the invitation extended them by the investigating to defend themselves did not give them a good advice.
His words: “It was not really helpful because in a matter like this you need to give your own side of the story. Maybe the people have made up their mind, but at least posterity would know what you have to say. This is because when you are accused of committing a crime and you keep quiet, whether you like it or not it would be deemed that you are guilty. Your defence might not make much difference, but it would be on record forever that this was your response.”
Yakassai does not believe that Nigeria is heading for a one-party state.
“Nigeria is not the kind of country that would end up with a one-party state,” he said, adding that what happened in Adamawa and what is happening in Nasarawa is a continuation of the PDP crisis.
“Nyako was a member of the PDP and Tanko Al Makura was also a member of the party before he crossed over to the defunct CPC just before the 2011 election and got elected. So, it’s a continuation of the PDP crisis,” he said.
Nevertheless, Yakassai said it is unfortunate that the crisis in Adamawa reached this stage.
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