April 19, 2024

Shaibu and the place of Deputy Governors

Shaibu impeachment

Philip Shaibu

Philip Shaibu, the recently impeached Deputy Governor of Edo State, was the 19th occupant of that position removed from office through impeachment since May 29, 1999.

They were all sacked at the pleasure of their principals, the governors. Their offences: “gross misconducts”. That is all that Section 188 of the 1999 Constitution requires for an impeachment proceeding to be raised against a Governor or Deputy Governor. This clause has only caught six Governors – the late Diepreye Alamieyeseigha of Bayelsa, Joshua Dariye of Plateau, Peter Obi of Anambra (he was reinstated by the Supreme Court), Rashidi Ladoja of Oyo, Ayo Fayose of Ekiti and Murtala Nyako of Adamawa.

While a president (notably Olusegun Obasanjo) was chiefly responsible for the ouster of most of them, the governors have been the main facilitators of the removal of their deputies. What it means is that the “misconduct” that leads to impeachment is more of an issue of power struggle than sanction for other forms of “misconducts” such as corruption.

Shaibu’s impeachment might have been at the instance of his principal, Governor Godwin Obaseki, over the issue of alleged “disloyalty” arising from the manner in which Shaibu pursued his gubernatorial ambition.

Shaibu, who was tag-teamed with Obaseki by former Governor Adams Oshiomhole, was seen as a political godson of the latter, now a senator. Indeed, Shaibu seemed to confirm this by wearing Oshiomhole’s trademark khaki outfit. But when Oshiomhole fell out with Obaseki and sought to replace him as governor with Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, Shaibu stood firmly with Obaseki, even at the expense of his relationship with Oshiomhole.

They moved from the All Progressives Congress, APC, to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and got re-elected for a second term. This bolstered Shaibu’s position and expectation of his boss’ support. But unfortunately for him, their relationship went awry when his loyalty to Obaseki became doubtful. All moves made by the former to regain the confidence of the latter were rebuffed, culminating in his expedited removal from office.

The lesson for all sitting Deputy Governors and future ones is that their survival depends one hundred per cent on loyalty to their bosses. Overly ambitious Deputy Governors or those who seek to pull their political weights under their bosses will soon be gone. It is unfortunate that governors have overawed the legislative and executive arms and can easily railroad the impeachment of their Deputies as we saw in Edo and other states.

In creating the positions of President/Vice President and Governor/Deputy Governor, the Constitution did not intend to put two captains in one boat. There is only one boss. The Deputy, even those picked because of their perceived political clouts, are contingency measures in the event of their principal’s misfortune.

They must handle their delicate situation with extreme care.