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Impeachment: Between Two-thirds Majority And Two-thirds Minority

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Democracy in Nigeria has recorded another low. Absence of decent politics by individuals in government again dragged our dear country into disrepute before the international community.

I am quite certain that those who followed this column sequentially in the last one month would not be surprised about the turn of events, particularly the invasion of the National Assembly by DSS operatives. Rather the drama would have produced a live occurrence of my predictions.  Therefore, tracing the background of the crisis will amount to a needless repetition, we should concentrate on the drama and its implications.

Permit me to observe that the argument by some prominent members of the APC government, which suggested  that the deployment of masked DSS operatives was at the behest of Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, to sway public sentiment to his favour has been punctured by the statement released by the party’s acting National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabena in the early morning of Wednesday.

The statement read: “Following Tuesday’s incident at the National Assembly, our investigations have now uncovered the sinister plot hatched by the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, to foment violence in the legislative chamber all in a bid to stop his impeachment.

We are now aware that the timely intervention of the security operatives forestalled the planned violence which could have led to possible deaths, injuries and destruction of property in the National Assembly on Tuesday.

Why did the Senate President mobilise thugs to the National Assembly who almost lynched E.J. Agbonayinma, the only APC federal lawmaker present but for the timely intervention of security operatives.”

By the statement above, the APC tactically justified the invasion and described it as ‘timely intervention.’ The narrative has now changed from allegations that sacked DSS Director-General, Lawan Daura, executed a script prepared by Saraki, something is definitely not adding-up and Nigerians are not foolish. 

Over and above that, I find it disturbing that every attempt to dislodge the current leadership of the Senate (although denied) had not only failed, but provided Saraki with opportunities to brace-up his grip on the National Assembly.  Saraki’s detractors ended up glorifying him at every point, as they threw caution into the winds and employed the most primitive manner to achieve desired result. This may be born out of the measure of hatred for the Senate President.

Fortunately for Saraki, any unconstitutional plot against the leadership of the National Assembly as currently constituted can’t be viewed as an isolated attack against his person, it is a direct attack on the legislature and a test of true democracy. This is why the executive arm of government must tread carefully and adopt better strategies.

Even if Saraki deserves to be removed, the constitutional process still has to be complied with, else, an atmosphere of anarchy looms in the Red Chamber.

The strength of the majority in the parliament should be tested with utmost sincerity and without mischief.  Political arithmetic suggesting that two-thirds out of one-third quorum in the Senate applies as two-thirds majority that can effect change of leadership is devoid of common sense.

One-third of 109 senators is 37 while two-thirds of 37 is 25, in the House, one-third of 360 members is 120 and its two-thirds is 80. If the above argument is anything to consider, it then means that 25 out of 109 senators and 80 out of 360 members of the House can change the leadership of either the Senate or House of Representatives once they have one-third quorum in attendance, even if others are not in agreement with the decision.

Can imposition by 25 senators out of 109 prevail? Will the remaining 84 senators then be considered as majority or minority? In the case of House of Representatives, can the decision of 80 members outweigh the wish of 280? Will there ever be peace in that parliament?

The scenario painted above represents argument of the Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Political Matters, Sen. Babafemi Ojudu, on a live television broadcast,

It doesn’t matter to Nigerians if Saraki and Dogara were removed the same day, but not with Ojodu’s skewed arithmetic. 25 out of 109 or 80 out of 360 can never represent two-thirds majority. At best, it can be described as ‘two-thirds minority’ as the one-third baseline itself is a minority fraction. For Ojodu’s  argument to hold any water, the word ‘majority’ in section 50(c) of the 1999 constitution (as amended) will be rendered useless.

On a second thought, should the impeachment plot had succeeded, would Nigerians and other democratic nation’s across the world clap for the APC and its senators? Will that action form a precedence worthy of emulation? I doubt if any known democrat will proudly associate with such a cohesive arrangement, this may just be why Saraki gets information of every plot against him ahead of time.

As a Nigerian, I join other patriots to bury our heads in shame as I deeply regret that we recorded another bad political history, yet I’m optimistic, we can together right the wrongs.

Boma’s Boldness…

Member representing Akuku-Toru/Asari-Toru federal constituency of Rivers State, Boma Goodhead, is a personality to watch out for.

Tracing her recent antecedents in the House, I wasn’t surprised at the level of courage and boldness she exhibited on Tuesday. It takes a determined mind to dare operatives of the DSS to shoot her and others blocked from entering the National Assembly. Even the Senate President recognised her specially, we need more women like her in government please!





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