When I read about Pastor Tunde Bakare’s call for the impeachment of President Goddluck Jonathan, my first impulse was to say: Oh yes! About time! Why, let us remove the bubblehead president, revert the ill-conceived subsidy removal scam, and live in peace and prosperity as we have been doing hitherto. Except that, I will not be acting on my first impulse, or any such impulse, and neither should Tunde Bakare, or any other subscriber to the notion of impeachment. The reason is; it is a dangerously combustible and deadly substance . I will explain anon.
Let’s say, by some improbable supernatural happenstance, I became vested with the combined powers and authority of the Senate, the House of Representatives , and the Judiciary; enough to influence and determine the course of the current agitation for the reversal of fuel subsidy, and I have the option of removing Goodluck Jonathan, I will not elect the option. The reason should not be far-fetched.
I am as mad as anyone about the removal of fuel subsidy. Madder still, because this president - the most desperately unintelligent and uninspiring leader the whole world (of Nigeria, that is) has ever had the misfortune of producing - chose the very first day of a new year to stick it to Nigerians, and does so by discountenancing all the probable consequences. It is a difficult thing, for an elected president to play by a coup plotter’s script, without the accompaniment of the necessary Machiavellian maneuvers. Since the latter must precede the former to succeed, a president, whose goodwill gauge is already flashing red, ought to be more circumspect in treading such anti-people policy landmines in such a military-coup-at-dawn fashion. Circumspection even demands a higher premium of attention, if you are a lack-luster presidential specie, like Goodluck Jonathan. Having said that, and knowing that our president has stepped on the land mine of people’s pent-up anger, triggering an explosion of protests and demonstrations, the question that inevitably arises is: What next? How far do we want to push, or should we advisedly push this thing? What should we include in our catalogue of demands and where should we draw the line?
Pastor Tunde Bakare may be speaking the minds of many irate Nigerians, and his call for impeachment (while some may denounce it as vendetta) may not be totally alien to my thoughts either. However, right now, the reality on the ground would not accommodate a push in that direction, without complicating matters beyond what is salvageable. A cursory look at the geo-political zonal distribution of the current political office holders will clearly highlight the dangers that an impeachment will portend for the polity.
The President is from the South-South; the VP from the North Central; the Senate President from the North Central and the Speaker from the North-North. In the event of an impeachment, who shall we tip (considering everything) to succeed Goodluck Jonathan? That is the one trillion naira question. Before you reach for the Nigerian Constitution, let me warn you that the answer will not be brokered by the constitution. Yes, I know the constitution clearly lays down the line of succession with the VP being the next in line. However, it should be sufficiently clear to an average student of Nigeria’s ethno-religious political configuration, that nothing can be more illusory than the suggestion that Namadi Sambo will be benefitting from the impeachment of Goodluck Jonathan. It will never happen. Even, in the improbable event that both the president, and the VP are impeached, neither David Mark, nor Aminu Tambuwal, will ever transition to Aso rock. It will never happen.
Let’s pause a little and ask ourselves: Why do we want, or should even want Jonathan impeached? Definitely not merely because of the petrol subsidy thing, that’s just an off-shoot. The top two feeders of our umbrage against Goodluck Jonathan are: 1. Nuclear-grade Corruption and, 2. Gross, unmitigated incompetence. Whatever else you may identify and attribute the call for impeachment to, are mere by-products of these two portent commodities, which, by the way, the Goodluck enterprise holds a thriving franchise in. Are we then to impeachment the president for being corrupt and incompetent? I dare say, much as we may want to, or clamor for, we sincerely cannot. If we do, the whole Nigerian experiment must be impeached along with it, willy nilly.
In the second republic, Shehu Shagari, a core Northerner, exhibited all the traces of incompetence as the current president. His administration, as was his then party, NPN, paraded an intimidating credential in mind-numbing corruption and want of competence that may be unrivalled in any part of the world. The Jonathan administration of today, nay his political party, PDP, might as well be a clone of Shagari and NPN of yore. Till the military putsch of Buhari and Idiagbon terminated the nightmare of the second republic in 1983, no one ever called for Shagari’s impeachment. So did the cancer of corruption and incompetence dog the administration of Obasanjo, till circumstances forced him to hand over the reins of power to the late Yaradua. Even though some elements, like Arthur Nzeribe, flew the kite of impeachment during OBJ’s administration, history still records him being a two-term president for eight years.
At a time when the whole nation became dependent on the whims of an unscrupulous cabal within the Yaradua presidency, so much so, that Nigeria became an extension of a Saudi Arabian hospital bed, no one called for the impeachment of a mortally sick president. As frail as the health of the late Yaradua was for the duration of his presidency, the legacy of corruption and incompetence, which are the distinguishing identifiers of PDP’s democracy, was no lightly sustained. Why then should Jonathan be impeached, for whatever reason? What are the impeachable offences? Quote me: there are no impeachable offences in Nigeria! For a governor maybe, definitely not as regards the president. If Shagari was never impeached, and Obasanjo was never impeached, and Yaradua was never impeached, then Ebele can never be impeached. If you are dreaming of impeachment, wake up from your slumber, it will never happen!
All those who have been democratic Presidents from the second republic till date were all corrupt and incompetent, Goodluck just happens to be the current nurturer of that tradition. All of them stole, just as Goodluck is stealing today. Goodluck is un-inspiring, lack-luster, incompetent and corrupt. Well, so also were those before him. The North-North, North-East, North-Central, South-West, all have been there. They have all “chopped” their own. It is the turn of the South-South man to “chop” his own, and “chop” he must, whether anyone likes it, or not.
Hey, by all means let us demand an end to corruption. Let us push for an end to the regime of profligacy and waste. Let us see how far we can go in snuffing life out of the voodoo-type democracy that successive PDP administrations have fostered at all levels since the advent of the current democratic experiment. But for God’s sake, don’t go near the “impeach” button. If we do, the whole thing will unravel very fast. Nigerians chose Goodluck Jonathan and they must stick with him, through thick and thin. If a reversal of the petrol subsidy removal is the only thing we can scrape out of this, so be it. If we can force a convocation of the conference of nationalities that makes up this nation, to discuss a restructuring of its patently faulty arrangement, better still. Whatever the case, the alternative, in the form of an impeachment, forebodes a consequence much too dire for anyone to contemplate.
In any case, which of Namadi Sambo, David Mark, or Aminu Tambuwal will be better than Goodluck? Just take a peep into their respective antecedents and see what tomorrow will be with any of them. Their records are as good (pun intended) as that of Jonathan before he became president. All these officials were elected somehow, or anyhow, by Nigerians. This is the way we have laid our beds and this is the way we must lie on it. Enough lesson learnt, we must endure till 2015, or call it a day for Nigeria as we know it.