By Timi Frank
The sudden withdrawal of the security details attached to the Office of the Speaker, Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, and the surreptitious plot being hatched to illegally impeach him is not only gross impunity, but an invitation to anarchy by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the government of the day. The Office of the Speaker is a product of the Constitution, therefore the forceful stripping of the security personnel attached to that office by the Inspector General of Police, Suleiman Abah, on account of Tambuwal simply exercising his democratic and constitutional right to Freedom of Association is nothing but the rule of force which cannot stand because democracy cannot thrive without the rule of law.
Which part of the Nigerian Constitution says the speakership belongs to the majority party? The Constitution and the procedures of the House of Representatives say a Speaker shall be elected based on the principle of Primus inter pares (first among equals) not based on majority party and he can only be removed by a two-thirds majority meaning 240 lawmakers out of 360. At the moment, PDP has 189 and APC has 159. Accord and Labour parties share the remaining 12. So how would PDP get the 240 Reps. to impeach Tambuwal?
The Constitution of the FRN 1999 Section 50(1)(b) provides: “There shall be…a Speaker and a Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, who shall be elected by the members of that House from among themselves …” in1979-1983 Chief Edwin Ume-Ezeoke of blessed memory from Nigerian People’s Party (NPP), the third party in the House after Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) was the Speaker of the House while Dr. Ibrahim Idris Kuta was the Deputy Speaker from the majority National Party of Nigeria (NPN). Thus, a precedent has been laid. Therefore common sense would only allow Tambuwal now of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Emeka Ihedioha of PDP to finish their tenure.
Tambuwal remains the Speaker as he was elected Primus inter pares (first among equals) by his fellow Representatives and not because he is from PDP He remains in that position until his colleagues say otherwise. After all, John Bercow remained the Speaker of the House of Commons in the United Kingdom (UK) in 2010 not because his party, the Conservatives, had a majority in the House but because his colleagues believed in his ability and asked him to continue.
How can a police recruited, trained and funded by the state be used by a political party in power to grossly violate the nation’s Constitution, undermine and destroy important state institutions? Governance in Nigeria today is being operated like a cult whereby if you don’t belong, other members will come for your life. Today, if you are not in support of or member of the PDP, the police will be used against you. This is why Nigerians must rise not be quiet in the face of this grievous evil.
The action of the IGP, apparently acting on the orders from ‘above’ shows that the present administration and the PDP have utter disdain for democracy. As it stands, the Speaker has not violated any constitutional provision by declaring his membership of the APC but even if there is a constitutional breach, the judiciary must be allowed to so determine.
When members of other political parties decamp to the PDP, they are often received with fanfare and immediately given police protection even when they are not legally entitled such perks. For instance, when the former Governor of Borno State and an alleged Boko Haram sponsor, Ali Modu-Sheriff, decamped from the APC to the PDP, he immediately enjoyed the deployment of federal military troops (soldiers) to protect him instead of withdrawing his security. Secondly, the Maiduguri Airport that was shut following Boko Haram attack, was not only reopened for this individual, but he was accorded the rare privilege of flying in one of the presidential jets to Maiduguri to make a formal declaration. Haba! What is good for the goose they say is good for the gander. The Governor of Ondo State, Olusegun Mimiko has since decamped from the Labour Party (LP) to the PDP. The IGP has not withdrawn his security details.
Tambuwal by his words and actions since his emergence as the Speaker has left nobody in doubt that he is out to ensure the overall development of this country. He has helped to enthrone merit instead of political convenience, deepened democracy which is rooted in the expressed will of the majority, ensured stability in the lower chamber and always sided with Nigerians on matters of impunity, oppression, welfare and progressive governance.
Nigerians have not forgotten the excellent work of Tambuwal both in and outside the hallowed Chambers. He has been vociferous in defending the right of Nigerians. He has consistently maintained sides with the people by condemning the redolent illegalities and corruption in the present administration. He spoke up in favour of the masses in January 2012 when he reconvened the House and supported the people who rose against the removal of fuel subsidy and the attendant astronomical increase in fuel price.
So any attempt to continue to deny him of his security entitlements or plots to forcefully remove him from office through unconstitutional means will surely be met with lawful resistance not just from members of the House of Representatives but the ordinary Nigerians on the streets.
I want to urge Nigerians to pray and rise up to protect the Speaker as a symbol of the democracy of our dreams. It is not a matter of political affiliation, as it is now clear that there are plans to harm Speaker Tambuwal following the withdrawal of his security without due process. Needless to say that any harm on the Speaker by reason of this abominable and intolerable desperation will be fatal to our democracy. By illegally removing Tambuwal’s security and exposing him to harm for exercising his constitutional and democratic rights gravely injure the soul of our democracy.
I want to also draw the attention of the International Community and Nigerians (home and abroad) to the growing impunity in our land. I want them to know that the Nigeria Police has been converted to a private security outfit to protect only members and officials of the PDP. Instead of a Nigeria Police Force we now have a PDP Police Force. This is very dangerous for the 2015 elections where all political parties are expected to contest for positions.
I hereby plead with the International Community and Nigeria’s development partners to advise the presidency and the PDP not to set our country on fire but to follow due process. The growing insecurity in our country is already hell enough for Nigerians.
The Nigeria Police, the Presidency and the PDP should be held responsible if any harm befalls Tambuwal at this time. The PDP must now learn to respect the tenets of democracy which are anchored on freedom. Any attempt to unduly harass or hound the Speaker out of office by the PDP and the presidency would be a direct affront on our democracy.
Already, out of desperation, the PDP is scheming to illegally reconvene the House and cause the impeachment of the Speaker, but I want to beg them not to test the anger of Nigerians after over 15 years of their misrule. Therefore Nigerians will not fail to lawfully resist any attempt to turn our hard earned democracy into a dictatorship because we can’t afford to bear the indignities Nigerians suffered during the military junta under a democratically elected government.