Never before in the political development of Nigeria has so much uncertainty beclouded the body polity of the nation. The defection of Alhaji Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, the Speaker Federal House of Representatives, penultimate week from the ruling People's Democratic party to the All Progressives Congress, only served to ignite the already overcharged political atmosphere. That defection was altogether not unexpected. There had been several permutations on his assumed political calculations and allegiance, due to his glaring absence in several key PDP occasions most especially the declaration for reelection in 2015 of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.
The fracas that erupted at the National Assembly following attempts at baring the embattled Speaker from the hallowed chambers only spotlighted Nigeria internationally. It was very despicable seeing the honourable members scaling fences in a thick cordon of heavily masked policemen. This national dishonour was avertible if only Nigeria was governed by strict adherence to the Constitution she purports to operate with.
What was the right course of action for Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal? Was the ruling PDP right in the assumption that Tambuwal's defection rendered his position as Speaker vacant? Unfortunately, the rule of impunity appears to pre-dominate our national psyche. Constitutionalism seems an aberration. Political precedence here would not so much address the problem as compound it because we have always condoned rascality.
The Nigerian 1999 Constitution is unequivocal in the present imbroglio. In Chapter V, which dealt on the legislature, Section 68, subsection 1G, it reads that “a member of the Senate or of the House of Representatives shall vacate his seat in the House of which he is a member if being a person whose election to the House was sponsored by a political party, he becomes a member of another political party before the expiration of the period for which that House was elected” But there was a proviso: “that his membership of the latter political party is not as a result of a division in the political party of which he was previously a member or of a merger of two or more political parties or factions by one of which he was previously sponsored.”
In the case of Hon. Tambuwal, he was not only constitutionally expected to resign, his seat at the hallowed chambers was supposedly vacant, unless it could be proven that his membership of APC was occasioned by a division in the PDP or that there was a merger of two or more political parties involving the PDP or that factions existed in the erstwhile party.
Whether or not these ouster clauses were satisfied in Tambuwal's case is a matter of judicial interpretation. The PDP ought to have dragged the Speaker before a court of competent jurisdiction. The move to forcefully bar Hon. Tambuwal from the hallowed chambers using the instrument of the Police appeared to be overt impunity of which all involved ought to be brought to book.
Impeachment of the Speaker too ought not to be induced by forces other than the very members of the Federal House of Representatives.
The vitiation of the impeachment clause is a serious dent in our bourgeoning democracy with a rash of scandalous impeachments here and there and threats of more! There is need for urgent reawakening among our politicians who had forgotten in a hurry what great destruction was wrought by similar blunders in the past. Are we as a nation condemned to the labours of Sisyphus, repetitive experiences without any learning point? Have we forgotten the first Republic political crisis that led to a series of catastrophic events – coup d'état, civil war and death of more than two million Nigerians? Have we forgotten the reign of impunity in the second Republic and the aftermath? The Nigerian body polity is easily excitable, but the excitation threshold seemed to have been exceeded. We are heading towards anarchy if urgent restraint is not applied. The utterances credited to the main political gladiators are not helping matters. Let us apply strict constitutionality and secure the future of our country despite a myriad of challenges, today and for posterity. Clarius Ugwuoha a public affairs analyst writes from Egbema.
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