BusinessDay

Buhari will escape impeachment, but not history’s harsh verdict

Like the Sword of Damocles, the threat of impeachment is hanging over President Muhammadu Buhari’s head. Two weeks later, on July 28, some senators, led by the Senate minority leader, Phillip Aduda, emerged from a closed-door session to give President Buhari six weeks to tackle the worsening insecurity in Nigeria or face impeachment.

Speaking after the session, Senator Aduda, said: “So, we agreed that we will give the President an ultimatum failing for which we will move to give an impeachment notice.”

Of course, the threat to impeach President Buhari is not credible, and the presidency wasted no time in poopooing it. In a statement, the presidency dismissed the threat as “performative and babyish antics.”

In a subsequent TV interview, Femi Adesina, President Buhari’s senior media adviser, went further. He described those behind the impeachment threat as “the minority of minorities” and accused them of giving “flippant ultimatums,” saying “it’s bravado”!

This was Adesina in his characteristic condescension. But he was making the point that, with both Houses of the National Assembly controlled by the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, the dissident legislators lacked the numbers, two-thirds majority of all members of each House as required under Section 143 of the Constitution, to impeach the president.

But he cannot escape the verdict of history for running the most incompetent civilian administration in Nigeria, for presiding over debilitating insecurity, a collapsing economy, monumental debt, massive unemployment and the steepest decline in living standards on record

True, but that would change if APC members in the National Assembly put country before party, as Conservative Members of the UK Parliament did when they removed their own errant leader and prime minister, Boris Johnson, from power.

Truth is, President Buhari, who faced up to four previous impeachment threats, should have long been impeached. For he has long met the threshold for impeaching a president, namely: “gross misconduct in the performance of the functions of his office,” under Section 143(2)(b) of the 1999 Constitution.

Think about it. The Constitution explicitly states, in Section 14(2)(b), that “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.” Note the words “primary purpose.” So, what can be more gross misconduct than a president “sleeping on duty” or twiddling his thumbs while acute insecurity and extreme poverty ravage his country and its people?

Yet, that’s what President Buhari stands accused of. In his nearly eight years in office, Buhari has largely been missing in action, either globetrotting or holed up in Aso Rock utterly insouciant about the deteriorating security and welfare of Nigerians.

Sadly, it’s déjà vu all over again. In August 1985, when General Buhari was overthrown as military head of state, some of the reasons cited in a coup speech read by Lt. Gen Joshua Dogonyaro were that “government has distanced itself from the people and the yearnings and aspirations of the people have been ignored.”

In 2019, the famous Chatham House in London said something similar in a damning report, describing Buhari as “an aloof and disengaged leader, ‘walled’ off from his own government and from Nigerians themselves.” What could constitute a greater ground for impeachment?

Well, here’s the point. As everyone knows, Buhari will not be impeached for gross misconduct in the performance of the functions of his office or for failure to make the security and welfare of Nigerians the primary purpose of his government.

But he cannot escape the verdict of history for running the most incompetent civilian administration in Nigeria, for presiding over debilitating insecurity, a collapsing economy, monumental debt, massive unemployment and the steepest decline in living standards on record.

But history’s verdict will even be harsher because Buhari himself and Bola Tinubu, who enabled him, knew ab initio that he was not up to the job.

Yet, Buhari doggedly sought power seemingly for power’s sake, while Tinubu, who is now unashamedly dissociating himself from Buhari’s abysmal performance, foisted him on Nigeria to advance his lifelong presidential ambition.

Yet, it was clear that Buhari would fail as president even from his own words. Take a few examples.

In 2015, shortly after assuming office, Buhari said he wished he was younger, saying: “Now at 72, there’s a limit to what I can do.”

But why did he seek the presidency knowing the limitations of his age? Of course, coupled with his age was his mysterious illness, which, as the Financial Times put it, “sapped his presidency of strength and direction”. Was an old, sick person right to seek the presidency?

Then, there’s Buhari’s work ethic. In 2016, at an event in Abeokuta, Buhari thanked former President Obasanjo for “tolerating” him as petroleum minister in his military regime, saying: “God knows that I’m not used to working as hard as he used to.” But why would a very lazy person who is not used to working hard seek to be president?

Finally, Buhari once said: “I am a very slow reader,” Indeed, a former ally, Junaid Mohammed said: “Buhari doesn’t read,” saying he gave Buhari a book on economics and two years later he hadn’t read two pages. Given that leaders and readers, how can a “leader,” who doesn’t read or is too slow at reading, have the presiding intellect to know what to do or be an intelligent consumer of technical information?

Read also: Impeachment threat rattles Buhari

Of course, the above weaknesses are the main reasons Buhari has been an utter calamity as president. He lacks the physical and mental fitness, the work ethic as well the vision and leadership to run Nigeria.

Coupled with those weaknesses, Buhari has the worst, the most mediocre, cabinet of any civilian administration in Nigeria. His cabinet is full of career politicians, who take no responsibility for their failures but, instead, indulge in appalling sophistry to disguise their incompetence.

Take Festus Keyamo, Buhari’s minister of state for labour and employment. He said in recent interview on Channels TV: “It’s a very lazy way to campaign to say, ‘what’s the price of tomato then, what’s the price of tomato now?’” Really?

So, why is the whole campaign to choose a new British prime minister about inflation and the cost of living? How can a responsible minister say that inflation, which erodes the disposable incomes and living standards of ordinary people, shouldn’t be an issue in a general election. Of course, only a Buhari minister can say that!

Truth is, Buhari was utterly unfit to govern Nigeria. Yet, aided by a self-serving Svengali, he became president. Nigeria has been the loser. Well, he may have survived many impeachment threats, but the verdict of history will be less kind to him!

TRIBUTE TO MY FATHER-IN-LAW

Dear readers, please allow me to pay tribute to my father-in-law, Sir John Oluwole Ogundipe, who died last week, aged 92.

He belonged to a generation that served Nigeria with total dedication, loyalty and patriotism. After obtaining his BSc in Mechanical Engineering from Glasgow University in 1963, he joined the then Electricity Corporation of Nigeria, ECN, as an Engineer, retiring several years later, in 1985, as Director of Generation Services in the then NEPA.

He also belonged to a distinguished family linked with epochal moments in the history of this country. He was a junior brother of Brigadier-General Babafemi Olatunde Ogundipe, the first Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters, and former High Commissioner to the UK. So proud of his brother, he named his last child, Oladeinde Olatunde, currently chief lecturer at YABATECH, after him.

My condolences go to his wife, my remarkable mother-in-law, Lady Oluremi Ogundipe, a retired head teacher and school proprietress. Of course, also to my wife – their eldest child – Adedoyin, a UK-based educationist and teacher, and her other siblings: Dr Oluwole Ogundipe, an IT specialist, and Dr Folake Abikoye, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon.

My father-in-law was one of my biggest cheerleaders. He believed I was contributing to the development of Nigeria through my newspaper columns. He lived a purposeful and fulfilling life.

May his soul rest in peace.

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