Why State Houses Of Assembly
Primaries Will Be A Do-Or-Die Affair
Now that the president has shown that it is possible for just two out of 50 House of Assembly members (who have the president's backing) to remove a governor, the election and endorsement of every member of the House of Assembly have now become important. For people to win primaries to the state Houses of Assembly these days, a thorough inside-out check has to be done on them, their parents and forebears to ensure that none of them has any roots in or linkages to President Obasanjo and his hatchet men Chris and Andy Uba, Bode George and others. Indeed, it will be impossible to be law-abiding in a lawless society. If you still doubt this, ask Mr. Gentleman Peter Obi of Anambra State to tell you his story.
When Will The President Disband The National Assembly?
It is very difficult not to dislike Joshua Dariye, the overthrown governor of Plateau State. He has thoroughly mismanaged Plateau State, and there are incontrovertible proofs that he also stole the state dry. The bank accounts of his girlfriends in Europe are fatter than those of the state that has been put under his care. I was the first to comment publicly on Dariye's maladministration in my then Monday Column in the Daily Trust in 2001, in a piece entitled "Who will save Plateau from Dariye?" After that, I also became one of the first to suggest that a state of emergency be declared in Plateau State as a response to the breakdown of law and order which was a direct product of the bad leadership of the governor. That's one of the very few times I have found myself agreeing with any policy of President Obasanjo.
Dariye did not win the governorship election in 2003. Jonah Jang did, even though both Abel Guobadia's INEC and the courts (as usual) sold the mandate to the highest bidder. Jang would have made a far better governor, if his track record and several accomplishments in Gongola and Benue states where he had been a successful military governor in the past are indications to go by. Dariye had been arrested in the UK over charges of money laundering. He jumped bail, forged a new international passport and came back into the country via Ghana. Like Ayo Fayose, another ousted governor, Dariye became an embarrassment to the elite of his state.
But I will never accept the "impeachment" of Dariye by five out of 24 members of the House of Assembly. This was the President Obasanjo-sponsored parody in Plateau State last Monday, November 13. Dariye was toppled by the president and Senator Ibrahim Mantu because they did not like his face. To compound Dariye's problem with this gang, he was also one of the governors who became heroes by openly declaring opposition to the third term agenda. And, as the third term project was a far greater evil than all the bad things Dariye had done put together, several well-meaning Nigerians were ready to forgive the governor all his transgressions. Mantu (of all people) is a bad portrait of an anti-corruption fighter. His profile and visage personify bribery and corruption. In fact, he has elevated graft to an art in his tenure as deputy Senate president (DSP) and he is shameless about it. At least, Dariye was not involved in the sharing of N50 million bribe to each member of the National Assembly in a bid to fraudulently secure a third term. Mantu has been involved, as the DSP, in a series of financial scams too numerous to count. If he is not in jail today, it is because he is being given cover by the president, his dubious soul mate. Many people have described them as birds of a feather. If Dariye deserves to be removed on grounds of financial mismanagement, then Obasanjo should have been removed 10 times over. At least, Dariye is not the one at the helms of the NNPC, nor was he involved in sharing oil blocks. Dariye might have stolen money, but he did not award three oil blocks and sell government assets to a company in which he has substantial interests. Dariye did not organise a fundraising ceremony to invite the state's contractors and beneficiaries to donate billions of naira to his library.
What Mantu and Obasanjo did in Plateau State in the name of impeachment is sheer banditry. You can have a lawless governor and still get by, but no country can survive a lawless and gangster president. A lawless president destroys the values of society, as we can see clearly with Obasanjo. A lawless president will always use the system for self. Just to perpetuate himself in power, Obasanjo has destroyed the democracy that was handed over to him by the military for safekeeping.
He started by first destroying internal democracy within the PDP. The PDP which started on a sound footing when the president was still fresh from Abacha's prison is now more a symbol of despotism than what the founding fathers conceived. Currently, the National Executive Committee of the party, which, it must be said, comprises distinguished and competent Nigerians in their various fields, is not elected. If people still join the PDP today, it is because they see the party as a rigging machine. The INEC that we have today does not in any way look like the late Ephraim Akpata-led INEC which Obasanjo inherited from Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar. It looks more like an offshoot of the Abel Guobadia contraption. That, too, is a legacy of Obasanjo.
The judgements that emanate from Nigerian courts these days should embarrass any law student who desires to make a career on the bench. For that too, it is thanks to Obasanjo. From the aggregate judgements that were delivered by the courts on the 2003 elections "and which have now formed part of the country's legal records from which evidences can be quoted "it now means that over-voting is no longer a crime; thuggery and murder of opponents do not matter, and the use of policemen and soldiers to rig elections is just all right. That is the net effect of the judgements of Justice Umaru Abdullahi of the Court of Appeal and Justice Muhammadu Uwais on the 2003 elections. They may now say they were under tremendous pressure to act the way they did (this is now a mantra of many judges), but they have only succeeded in creating a Frankenstein monster in Obasanjo who is now poised to destroy every fabric of the Nigerian society before he is finally forced out.
Since the courts can no longer check the president, and the National Assembly has so compromised itself that it could not even as much as condemn the brigandage of five out of 24 House of Assembly members removing a state governor, we should all brace ourselves for the day "very soon "he would declare that he had sacked the National Assembly on some stupid excuse. The excuse in Dariye's case is that the House of Assembly members who were PDP had decamped to the AC . But there was no problem when Senator Wahab Dosunmu started it all by decamping from AD to PDP in 2001.
Four years ago, nobody would have thought it would be possible for Obasanjo to do all that he has been doing and getting away with it. Just as some of us said in 2003, Obasanjo has suddenly realised that if he could rig the 2003 elections as wantonly as he did and got away with it, he would get away with anything. If Obasanjo has not sacked the National Assembly, it is only because he has not come round to doing it yet. Whenever he makes up his mind, he will do it seamlessly. He will employ the same method he used to "impeach" Governors Dariye, Ladoja, Obi and Fayose using the police and soldiers. He will not regard court orders as we are currently seeing with Ladoja.
Which is why Obasanjo still believes he will be in power beyond May 29, 2007, in spite of his crushing defeat in the National Assembly.