The recent gale of impeachments ravaging the polity is a sad reminder of the sordid political past that most Nigerians would want to do away with for good. In the context of the new dispensation heavy with hope of renewal on all social, economic and political fronts, it is incumbent on Nigerian politicians to do away with all the vestiges of the ugly past.
Coming at the birth of a new regime that is expected to consolidate our democratization, the impeachment moves clearly show that our politicians have learnt nothing at all on heating up the polity. They do not seem to be aware that a new, better political template is in the making with the historic peaceful transition of power from one party to another following the recent general polls.
Across the geo-political zones from Kebbi and Katsina states in the Northwest to Niger State in the North central, Enugu State in the Southeast and Ekiti and Ondo states in the Southwest, the legislators have been raising the spectre of impeachment in a manner that reveals that it is all about ulterior motives and the satisfaction of base and selfish interests. In Enugu, Katsina and Niger states, the legislators who have been working smoothly for the past years with Governors Sullivan Chime, Ibrahim Shema and Mua’zu Aliyu Babangida respectively have suddenly woken up to their defects, few weeks to the end of the current dispensation. In any case, the offences that the legislators have levelled on the governors have been in the public domain for a long time.
There is no doubt that some of the actions taken by governors of these affected states leave much to be desired, like Governor Chime who reportedly is seeking the approval of a N11b supplementary budget few weeks to the time he should be preparing his handover notes for his successor and Governor Shema who the legislators have accused of selling government property to his cronies and relatives, if not proxies.
Even so, impeaching a governor or planning to do so now with all the legal and constitutional bottlenecks involved is tantamount to shooting in the dark. The timing is wrong. The consequences are unimaginable, particularly at a time that elections have been fought and won, and tempers are just cooling down in preparation for the new dawn that the new regime is expected to unfold and implement in the next four years. Some of the legislators cannot deny the fact that the fallout of the party primaries during which they were either denied a return ticket by the incumbent or lost to their rivals is not inflaming passions of revenge. Another dimension is manifest in Niger State where the lawmakers are bitter over the alleged non-payment of their entitlements since January this year.
As the Supreme Court has recently disclosed in the landmark case involving Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State, impeaching a governor without setting up a tribunal to probe him amounts to a nullity. Since no impeached governor in Nigeria has gone through this logical judicial process, it is our candid view that the legislators waving the impeachment flag at their governors do not have the time to carry out this legal process now since the accused governors are already counting their days in office. They should therefore drop their moves as they cannot be fully processed with the time available.
However, this should not be taken to mean that we condone what the governors or the speakers are alleged to have done. Democracy would be better served in the end if the legislators were to document their allegations in their handover notes to their successors for the records and administrative purposes since governance is a continuum.
We therefore urge the warring legislators to sheathe their swords and allow the incoming governors to start off on a smooth note. If they are honest to themselves, they would admit that their moves have had the unintended effect of keeping them from performing their legislative functions as the governors, as in Enugu and Niger, had to get the police to seal off their Houses of Assembly.
We call on the incoming legislators to unlearn from this rather shoddy manner of conducting impeachment processes by their predecessors. Lawmaking is a serious business, which impacts the society with the virtues of accountability and transparency. Never should frivolity and selfish motives act as the driving force behind it. The warring parties in this ongoing saga should do a necessary rethink, and let sleeping dogs lie for the good health of the polity.