By Owei Lakemfa
THE House of Representatives is sulking that President Muhammadu Buhari did not honour the invitation to address it on Thursday over serious insecurity in the country. It had earlier been humoured with a promise. But in circumventing the invitation, so-called advice by the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, Abubakar Malami, claiming that the House has no powers to invite the President, was circulated.
An Assembly with basic knowledge of politics should have known that this was the voice of Jacob but the hand of Esau. So rather than seeking explanations from President Buhari, the distinguished members are diverting attention by attacking the hapless AGF.
The House itself is part of the drama being staged to give Nigerians the impression that the insecurity that has enveloped the entire country, is being addressed. It is aware that many Nigerians think we have a rubber-stamp National Assembly, so this may be a way of trying to be relevant. But the House need not bother as even the cost of the rubber is quite high and the stamp does not come cheap, so it does not even need to be a rubber stamp assembly.
President Buhari is obviously too busy with matters of state as to be distracted by the NASS. By the way, the President might actually be on familiar turf; he has experience as Military Head of State of running Nigeria with a tiny cabal and pliant judiciary but without a parliament.
In fact in those days, he ruled the country without a political party. Today, it is debatable if there is a ruling party because the Buhari group had on June 25, 2020, sacked the elected Executive Council of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and put in its place a Caretaker Committee chaired by incumbent Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni. Its life span was extended last Tuesday, December 8 by six months
In a bizarre twist, the party’s National Executive Council, NEC, announced its own demise. Its communiqué declared: “NEC has also donated its powers, as enshrined in Articles 13.3, subsection 5 and 13.3, subsection 6 of the APC Constitution to the Caretaker and Convention Committee.” Can a living party NEC donate its constitutional powers to an unelected organ?
Simultaneously, the NEC that had “donated its powers” also said it: “approved the immediate dissolution of the party organs at the polling unit, ward, local government, state and zonal level…” If the APC has dissolved all its organs from the polling unit to the Executive Council, in reality, the party no longer exists; only its ghost struts the political stage pretending to be the ruling party.
Governor Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai of Kaduna State confessed that these bizarre events in the APC are: “… in compliance with the wish of Mr. President that we should rebuild the party from the bottom up.” This reminds me of the days of military misrule when General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida dissolved the Armed Forces Ruling Council leaving him as the sole ruler of the country.
Permit me to commend President Buhari for his political sagacity and teaching Nigerians that one man can be a political party. I also congratulate faithful APC members for their eligibility to be listed in the Guinness Book of Records as members of a non-existent party. My special felicitations with Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, who claims to be the conquering President’s political son. He also has an undying wish to continue all Buhari’s programmes and immortalise him.
Bello is a political engineer in his own right with unique policies. For instance, his government deployed tax consultants to watch citizens buying bread and confectioneries and collect levies on each item purchased. When there was an uproar, his government issued a signed confirmation and justification of this strange tax collection.
His Commissioner for Information and Communication, Kingsley Fanwo, who is also an evangelist, issued an official statement on November 13, 2020 titled: “The facts about the bakery levies.” In it, the state government declared: “Let us place on record that the levies are not new (they are to) protect our economy from the activities of bakers outside the State who bring their bread to the State without paying any form of levy.” Later, the Bello administration made a U-turn. But rather than apologise, it attempted to put a lie on the levy.
Despite the existence of signed documents between the state government and the tax consultants, their authorisation to collect the bread levies, and the signed confirmation by the Ministry of Information, Chief Edward Onoja, Governor Bello’s deputy, made a flat denial. He said: “For the records, neither the governor nor the State Executive Council has imagined or proposed such a devilish tax regime, how much less imposing same on any food or essential commodity, not to mention bread which is a table staple and the basic lifeline of many a household.”
Bello had been cross with his former deputy, Simon Achuba, and sought ways to punish him. One of them was to make that office completely redundant and a refusal to pay the deputy governor’s salaries. At a point, there was a decision to remove Mr. Achuba. But the problem was that he could only be impeached by the State Assembly.
To actualise this, the Assembly in accordance with the constitution, accused the deputy governor of gross misconduct and set up an Investigative Panel of Inquiry. But the panel found Mr. Achuba innocent of all charges. That should have ended the impeachment moves, but not in Kogi State that is used to impunity; Mr. Achuba was impeached.
Mr. Justice John Olorunfemi of the Kogi High Court IV while setting aside the illegal impeachment, described the action of the Assembly as “a constitutional coup, hatched and executed in a democracy.”
As part of his unique contributions to governance, Bello whose 2019 re-election was greatly aided by reliance on gunfire and violence, declared that the COVID-19 pandemic was a farce. He refused to allow the nationwide lockdown to be implemented in the state. When the state medical personnel insisted on being provided with Personal Protective Equipment, PPE, armed thugs invaded the hospitals sacking doctors and nurses. Unfortunately, the State Chief Judge, Nasiru Ajanah, who illegally swore in a new deputy governor to replace Achuba, died of COVID-19 on June 28, 2020.
When I heard that Bello intends to export his unique governance style to the rest of the country by running for the Presidency in 2023, I chuckled. The fact that a snail has a horn, should not give it the illusion that it is fit to contest in a head-butt competition amongst animals with horns.
Owei Lakemfa writes from Lagos.