The ‘greatest’ news, although one that didn’t come as a surprise to many, especially members of the ruling PDP last week, was the Impeachment of retired real vice Admiral Murtala Nyako-the governor of former Gongola state and his deputy, Barr. James Bala Ngilari by the Adamawa State House of Assembly (ADHOA after approximately two weeks of surreptitious gerrymanderings and political ‘mago mago’. Yes, Mago mago, or if you like ‘wuru wuru’, because this is Nigeria where we practice a ‘Tokunbo’ form of democracy that literally turns the leader of government into a democratic dictator who uses blackmail and political influence to turn things around in his favor in clear contrast to what obtains in the United States of America, the ‘Freest’ Nation in the world, from where we copied the model of government that we now practice here. However, that would be a story for another day. Let us put all emphasis on what really happened at Adamawa and why ‘Baba Mai Mangoro’ as he is fondly called by his apologists, suddenly had to be thrown away with the proverbial bath water by the same hands who once hailed him.
Ever since it became clear, that the man and his deputy have been impeached (though the latter chose the option of resignation), I have invested a huge portion of my time in trying to solve the ‘puzzle’ of this particular impeachment. The reason was borne out of nothing more, other than that I was trying to figure out whether the constitution has become an instrument, more or less a weapon to be used by political gladiators to deal a blow on their opponents on the sands of the Political arena.
The circumstances leading to Nyako’s impeachment to a discerning political mind, easily comes as a hoax. One need not look much before it becomes clear that it was merely the voice of Jacob, but the hands of Esau pulling the strings of the impeachment proceedings. It is only one who is a neophyte in the political dynamics of this country that would not see the clear Hand writing on the Wall. It is also only a starter in the field of Theatre Arts,that would not see that the members of the Adamawa state House of Assembly were only dramatis personaes, acting out a finely written script handed down to them by Abuja political ‘Script writers’, that live no farther from Aso Rock if not inside it. So on Tuesday last week, while the political space was agog with the news of Nyako and Ngilari’s impeachment especially on Social Media sites, I was deeply disturbed. I didn’t share in the ululation of many of my Followers on Twitter who had always seen me as a ‘Jonathanian’ or a PDP apologist. To me, it was a clear case of going from the ridiculous to the sublime. And as a legal mind, I saw the whole impeachment proceedings as a Kangaroo kind of trial, that set out from the day of its commission to impeach the governor and his deputy. Not the conscientious type set up in the US in the 90’s to look into President Bill Jefferson Clinton’s Lewinky Scandal that nearly saw him out of the WhiteHouse but for the panel acquitting him of the charges of sexual misconduct preferred against him. While many sycophants saw it as a victory for democracy, I saw it as another injury to our fledgeling democracy. Too many a reader at this juncture would be asking why? The answer is not far fetched.
Only last October 2013, while Nyako was still a member of the ruling PDP before joining the G-5 governors that subsequently decamped to the opposition APC, the same House of Assembly that levelled charges of ‘Gross misconduct’ against him leading to his impeachment, had passed a Vote of Confidence on him for providing ‘purposeful leadership’ in the state and hailed him particularly, for maintaining a robust relationship between the executive and the Legislature. No fewer than 7 months after such legislative approval, the same governor is chided for running a ‘Family and friends’ government, and financial impropriety running to the tune of billions of Naira in the last couple years. When you try to reconcile such sudden move with the October unanimous vote of Confidence on the governor by the same ‘Undistinguished’ members of the Adamawa House of Assembly, the difficulty that is met in such an exercise, feeds the argument of possible paymasters in Abuja, directing the whole impeachment soap Opera that ended last week and another, premiering in Cinemas at Nassarwa with Governor Tanko Al-makura, playing the role of the antagonist in that particular drama.
While I may not be absolving the retired Naval officer of the charges preferred against him, my grouse is with the timing of the call. Why does it have to be after the man fell out of favour with the PDP apparatchik? Why does it have to be after the man wrote that acerbic memo to the presidency earlier this year? Where were the members of the ADHOA, when the man committed all the offence that is now the ground for his impeachment? Did they suddenly woke up from a slumber to see what Baba ‘Mai Mangoro’ had reduced their state into? Your answers to such posers are as good as mine. For me, Governor Murtala Nyako’s greatest act of Misconduct was not decamping to the opposition APC with a substantial member of the Adamawa Sate House of Assembly as that is only what is needed to impeach a serving governor. A 2/3 majority of the house calling the governor a bad name, and every other thing is secondary. Or if that were not so, why did the acting governor and former speaker of the house, Ahmadu Fintiri of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) immediately after he was sworn, in rush to the media to say, “PDP has regained its lost mandate in Adamawa”? How could a speaker of the House, say such at such a time? Is it not a further testimony that the whole impeachment drama was a calculated political game?
As I have earlier said, Nyako may have been guilty of all the charges preferred against him by the House. That cannot be disputed. The greatest evidence being the unanimous support of Adamawa indigenes from the very first day it was mooted. I personally called a friend in Mubi, Adamawa state to know the reaction of the people to the impeachment notice on the governor, and the response I got showed that the man’s cup was already over flown as even the masses on whose crest he rode to re-election in 2011 has suddenly thrown away the man’s mangoes-The symbol of their love for him. I know I also spoke to many of my colleagues who are indigenes of the state, and the response I got showed that the man’s sins were beyond grace. At least not the type the support of the masses can broker. But be that as it may, the following question begs consideration: who is without a sin? If the benchmark used in impeaching Nyako were to be applied stricto-senso in other PDP-controlled states, can one convincingly bet his last dinari that many of them will come out spick and span without getting the impeachment axe?
Former president Olusegun Obasanjo once pointed out that any public servant who has done as much as 48 hours in office as a state executive, would have either by omission or commission already accumulated enough offence to put him or her in jail the very next day. It was supposed to be a joke but one laced with native wisdom. So if we are to extrapolate on baba’s lecture, it becomes so clear that all our state executives including president Goodluck Jonathan, are all enmeshed in one shoddy deal or the other enough to secure them impeachment by a conscinetous panel. Why were the PDP members in the green and red chambers ready to give the fight of their life to make sure they retained the leadership of both houses? Was it not in a bid to make sure they hold the majority with which they could veto any legislative proceedings that seem not to be in their interest? Let us have the APC assume the requisite majority at let’s say the National Assembly, and let’s see if Mr. President would last another day in the seat of power. So in the final analysis, there is no such offence as ‘Gross Misconduct’, little wonder the drafters of the constitution deliberately left its definition open-ended. The greatest of Misconduct relevant in this clime, is for a sitting governor or President, not to make sure the party that brought him or her to power, has the required number in the state house of ASsembly and the National Assembly respectively to do and undo.
Now that the PDP has regained “its lost mandate in Adamawa”, it remains to be seen what steps the new government would take, to turn around the affairs of the state. For Baba ‘Mai Mangoro’, it is another lesson which I hope he learns from even though it is apparent that his political voyage has hit the rock with his being ousted from the government house. However partisan, this may appear, I must put it out. I doubt much if Nyako would be in the mud he is in today, if he had stayed back in the PDP with his Lawmakers-or taken them along with him to the APC. He ought to have known this. He should have done it the ‘Kwankwasiya’ way. He did not display any political genuis apparently because his reason were blundgeoned by his emotional and cantankerous nature. He must leak his wound reminiscing on how he got it so wrong that things fell apart for him.
At the end of the day, we must not be fooled that our democracy is turning around for the better with the ‘successful’ impeachment of a serving governor. If anything, it has suffered yet another blow In the form of a legislative arm that is everything but independent from the executive body. There is certainly something radically wrong with a democracy where a ruling party refuse to remove the log of wood lying deep seated in its eye, but seek to remove the speck of dust lying in the opposition’s. In a democracy, where the ruling party turn a blind eye to the wrong committed in one state, and gives a backlash to the same wrong committed in another, because of political persuasions and the lust to enlarge political coast in a bid for re-election come 2015, one is miffed and obfuscated as to the barometer for judging ‘Right’ and ‘Wrong’. At this point, it is not out of place to ask: When are we going to get things right?
Baba Mai Mangoro has gone. Would the same be the fate of Tanko Al-Makura? Well, as they say, it is all but enveloped in the womb of time. We wait to see what it will bore. ONU’KWUBE!
The writer is a Law Student in one of Nigeria’s leading universities and a Public Affairs commentator who believes in the Nigerian Project. He is on twitter as @RayNkah/RaymondNkannebe@gmail.com