...We have the numbers to impeach President Buhari – Abaribe
…Your threat is mere bravado – Adesina
The Presidency Wednesday night called the bluff of the minority caucus of the Senate to impeach the president, Muhammadu Buhari, if within six weeks he failed to redress the worsening insecurity in the country. Reacting to the impeachment threat when he appeared on Channels Television programme, Politics Today anchored by Seun Okinbaloye, special adviser to the president on media and publicity, Femi Adesina, dismissed the threat as “just bravado”, and the ultimatum as “flippant”. Adesina said as minorities, they could only have their say, while the majority would have their way given the configuration of the National Assembly in which the ruling All Progressives Congress enjoys an overwhelming majority.
However, former minority leader in the senate, now a member of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, Enyinnaya Abaribe, who also appeared on the programme, was confident that they have the numbers to make good their threat, stating that most APC members were with them.
Recall that the minority caucus led by Philip Aduda, representing the federal capital territory, FCT, Abuja, had staged a walk-out at plenary on Wednesday when the senate president, Ahmad Lawan, shot down a motion calling attention to the degenerating insecurity in the country, even after they had agreed at an executive session to hand down an ultimatum to the president to salvage the situation, or face impeachment. Interestingly, notable among the protesting senators was Ahmad Babba Kaita who represents President Buhari’s senatorial district in Katsina State. Also in the group were Senators Muhammed Bulkachuwa, and Ibrahim Shekarau. Aduda told journalists that since Lawan refused to inform the public of their resolution, “we have come here in protest to let Nigerians know that we are with them”.
But reacting to the development, Adesina, presidential spokesman, said “The truth is that in this kind of scenario, minority will always have its say, while the majority would have its way. You know the configuration of the national assembly; those who spoke today are the minority of minorities. They would have their say as is needful in a democracy, but it will not go beyond that. I think it was just bravado; and very sadly, security is not something you subject to bravado.
“You don’t begin to issue flippant ultimatums in something that is a matter of life and death. They know in their heart of hearts that they cannot achieve what they are saying. They are just wasting the country’s time, wasting the time of the upper chambers of the national assembly”.
Adesina accused the minority lawmakers of “playing to the gallery” because terrorism is coming closer to Abuja, their comfort zone. According to him, “If they were going into that bravado because it is coming nearer home to them, then it is not altruistic. They are just mindful of themselves, of their own wellbeing, of their own security. What matters now is the security of the entire country. And like the president has always said, he’s doing his level best, and he will continue to do it…. Tomorrow, the president has summoned another security meeting with the head of the security agencies”.
But joining issues with Adesina, Abaribe stated that “I think that some people also sat in Abuja and said it is impossible for these insurgents to move from the Northeast. Where are we today? It’s very wrong for anybody to say you don’t have the numbers; that is not true. Most of the APC senators are with us, and at the point at which this starts, that is when Nigerians will know that almost every senator is fed up and can no longer continue to see a situation that looks like what happened in the time of Rome – Nero fiddling while Rome is burning. This is exactly what is going on today”.
Upbraiding Adesina for dismissing their threat as mission impossible, Abaribe noted that unfortunately, he is not a member of the National Assembly and doesn’t know how things go within the National Assembly. “It may start with one person; it may start with two, and it becomes something that is rolling and gathering moss. So, we will now see what will happen because, like I said, what happened today, you could see it. I can tell you for free; nobody sat and planned that there was going to be a walk-out; nobody. People just got exasperated; the reason why they got exasperated was the cavalier manner that the matter was being treated by the Senate President. Does it mean that you don’t also take this thing seriously?”
Asked why they would be plotting to impeach a president whose tenure would soon end, and if impeachment was the only option, Abaribe quipped: “That is the point. Do we wait until this administration crashes the country or do we take action to prevent it? The senate and the National Assembly have a lot of things they could do, have been doing it, and since the last senate to this present senate, have been doing almost everything that is necessary including giving this administration everything that they have asked for.
“And it is because we have been giving this administration everything they have asked for that the senate has the tag of a compliant senate. There is no amount of names that we have not been called. Everything, in an effort not to be seen, or for somebody to say we are impeding anything that this administration wants. But the bottom line today that we have reached is that we are in a state of sheer incompetence. There is no other way you can mention it; no other way you can dice it, and slice it”.
Debunking the notion by Adesina that they were reacting because the insecurity was coming close to them as residents in Abuja, insisted the country was in dire strait. “It’s not because it’s coming home; it s because we pointed this out since 2016, 2017. You’ll remember that I was the first person on the floor of the senate to point out and said if Mr. President is not up to the task, it’s about time he steps aside; 2017. We are now five years down the road. At that time, it was just a creeping movement, starting from the Northeast to go to the Northwest, to come to the Northcentral; go to the Southwest, go to the Southeast, and now surrounding Abuja. So, if you say it’s because of today, then it’s not true”.
He similarly pooh-poohed the allegation by the ruling APC of politicisation of the security situation in the country because of the coming election. The former Abia State deputy governor said he would take a cue from Governor El’Rufai (of Kaduna state) who, when he was also confronted with a similar allegation at the time APC was not in government, said “oh, solve the problem, then you remove the politics”. So, I am telling APC, solve the problem, and then you remove the politics because I can’t stay there representing people of Abia South, and everything is going bad and you are telling me to stay here and engage in regime protection. Why should I do that?”
On what happens next should they succeed in impeaching the president, the senator representing Abia South, said “Then the person who takes over will know that his job is also on the line. Then, any other president that comes will also know that his job can also be on the line and you do your work. The reason why you came out and vied for an office as strong as the president is because you told us, and you gave us your assurance, you can do the job. If you can’t do the job, like the people say, if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen”.
Taunting Adesina over his statement that the president had summoned a security meeting for Thursday to address the security challenge in the country, the fiery politician retorted: “That is what we are saying. How many security meetings have we had? Every time something happens, you gather all of them and say you are going to have another security meeting; nothing comes out of it; it gets worse. So, the point now is asking the rest of us to just fold our arms in order for this administration to derail this country. I don’t think it’s in anybody’s interest. And we are talking from the point of view that we have seen that they can no longer do anything. How could a president, after what happened in Kuje, go there, let the whole world know oh, something is wrong! What has happened? What has happened since then?”
Asked what he expected President Buhari to have done, Senator Abaribe said “Just one thing; the buck stops on your table. You are the commander-in-chief; a major matter like Kuje happened, no head rolls. Everybody folds their hands and continues going… If nobody is fired for doing anything, why do you think anybody will bother himself? During the Second World War, one of the best commanders in the United States was fired by the president at that time; during the war.
“You have to do things to show that you care about what is going on. The impression is being created very, very ominously, that there is some method to this madness; there is some collusion going on, that people are being left to just do what they want in Nigeria. And if you go on the street of Nigeria, you will get that impression. And if you’re in charge, you need to do something to disabuse our minds; but nothing is being done, giving rise to everybody speculating. Who knows what is going on, who knows whether these people just want to come, take over the country. There is nothing that you can see”.