By Josef Omorotionmwan
SUDDENLY, President Muhammadu Buhari has become a Benin man. We also know that in 2015 Candidate Buhari was not a Benin man. At that time, many mercenaries, largely pseudo Christians, formed themselves into a clique, and the only gospel they had was that Buhari was coming to Islamise Nigeria.
The message quickly spread like wild fire in the harmattan and when they were done, not many wanted to touch Buhari even with a ten-foot pole.
Essentially, Buhari cost the APC the Federal Elections in Edo South and Edo Central Senatorial Districts. Christians in both Senatorial Districts hated Buhari with passion and voted against him with rage. That was how those fine APC candidates for the Senate and the House of Representatives elections from Edo South and Edo Central Senatorial Districts, whose elections came up on the same day with Buhari’s fell with him. The only results APC had to show came from the Muslim-dominated Edo North Senatorial District.
That was how APC’s misfortune became PDP’S fortune. In his quiet moment, Senator Matthew Urhoghide (PDP/Edo South) might quickly admit that he won that election by default. As it were, albeit unwittingly, he rode into office on the back of Candidate Muhammadu Buhari. So did virtually all the PDP candidates of the House of Representatives from Edo South and part of Edo Central Senatorial Districts.
A week later, when Buhari was already out of the way, we saw a true reflection of the strength of each political party at the House of Assembly election. APC’s supremacy was further confirmed at the Edo State gubernatorial election that followed a year later.
Somewhere along the line of confusion, we have lost the total essence of representative democracy. Admittedly, our representation has been fixated at the rudimentary level of “You know, our tribesman is the leader. So, speak no evil and do no evil against him”. That further explains why the same Edo South people who were persuaded into not wanting Buhari to become President originally are now the same people shouting at the roof-tops that they did not send Urhoghide to Abuja to move an impeachment motion against Buhari, to the extent that some over-zealot elements raised their hands against a Distinguished Senator of the Federal Republic!
What a gradual descent into Plato’s definition of a degenerating society – a society in which public policy is determined by the mob and in the market place! That is where mob action becomes the order of the day. What has happened to all the guarantees of legislative privileges and immunities from arrest and questioning on whatever a member of the legislative assembly says on the floor of the House of which he is a member?
In the particular case of Senator Urhoghide, he is a PDP Senator and his primary loyalty is to his party. He must tow the party line. This also means that even where President Buhari has been conscripted into Benin citizenship, a PDP Senator owes no one any apology for joining his party to turn the table against an APC President.
The situation would, however, be different if, for instance, there was an attempt to relocate the Benin Airport to Agadagudu State and Senator Urhgohide was seen in the vanguard of that move. Even at that, we would still politely invite him and get some Benin elders to point him to order instead of this rumble in the jungle.
Again, and perhaps more importantly, Senator Urhoghide is the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee in the Senate. This is a very important Committee for which the Edos should still be basking in the euphoria of producing its Chairman. By law, this is one Committee whose Chairman must be a strong member of the opposition party.
When the issue of the $496 million came up in the Senate, the Public Accounts Committee was an appropriate Committee to refer it to. The President was accused of expending public funds without legislative approval and authorisation. After the Committee consideration, the Committee wrote a Report. It was the Committee’s Report, not Chairman Urhoghide’s Report but it was the responsibility of the Chairman to present the Report to the full Senate.
The Committee found that the President had committed an impeachable offence and it so recommended. That was the Report that Senator Urhoghide took to the full Senate when a storm of indignation burst forth. We are unable to see where a Benin agenda has crept into all this.
Some commentators have gone at great length to show that President Buhari has committed an impeachable offence and that he should be impeached, perhaps unknown to them that impeachment is not a tea party. Between the idea and reality; between the motion and the act; and between the first sweet and the last bitter sips, the wine could turn venegar. Have they taken a serious look at the books? Where do they have the numbers? Where are the discipline and the cohesiveness required to cross those rigorous huddles?
When you see people behaving with impunity as the Executive is now doing, you must watch out. They could be hiding somewhere. Unfortunately, our legislators behave in a way that easily suggests that they could be willing to sell themselves into slavery; and pocket the money before realizing what they have just done!
One cannot say for sure that President Buhari has committed any impeachable offence. On a straight line course of the Constitution, of course, he could be guilty as charged. But we also know that from 1982 to date, there are a number of Economic Stabilization Acts – laws validly made, pursuant to the same Constitution – in which the National Assembly surreptitiously surrendered its economic powers to the President: some powers to spend without any recourse to the National Assembly; and some powers to spend now and seek amendatory approval later. These laws are in the books and they have not been repealed. The President and his men may be waiting for the National Assembly to kick-start the impeachment process. Let the music play!