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Saturday, 13 July 2013

For once, Aso Rock senses tremors

For once, Aso Rock senses tremors

Security inside a rock seems safest only as long as there are no tremors or the prospects can be ominous. As well-known to Nigerians, there is an on-going win all or lose all political battle of survival between President Goodluck Jonathan and Rivers State Governor, Chibuike Amaechi.
Despite Jonathan’s ostrich posture on the matter, events suddenly sprang out of control to expose the actual situation. Such was the alarming development that an erstwhile internal civil war of a ruling party attracted the concern of the opposition, Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) to call for the impeachment of President Jonathan for allegedly violating the constitution serially.
If that demand appeared a joke, the atmosphere at Aso Rock was rattling as the Presidency, within a couple of hours, reacted desperately with the usual polemics and insinuations washing President Jonathan off any responsibility for the political violence in the State House of Assembly on Tuesday.
Action Congress of Nigeria had listed the violence in Port Harcourt the previous day as the last straw in series of alleged impeachable offences committed by Jonathan including the political heat over the disputed leadership election of Nigerian Governors’ Forum.
Significantly, ACN’s demand for President Jonathan’s impeachment was made only a day after one of the party’s governors, Fayemi of Ekiti State, completely exonerated Jonathan from any involvement in the NGF crisis over a month after the election.
There is this intriguing bond between Jonathan and Fayemi dating back to the aftermath of the 2011 presidential elections. While the Action Congress of Nigeria, through its national publicity secretary, Lai Mohammed was faulting Jonathan’s victory for alleged electoral malpractices, Fayemi emerged as the first governor to publicly congratulate Jonathan on his victory.
Without providing any substance or specifics, Aso Rock’s reaction to the demand for Jonathan’s impeachment was more of gobbledegook.
In addition, the swiftness of the response or denial showed how the message got home on the prospects if not reality of the months and years ahead unless Jonathan humbles his political ambition, which, by the way, is legitimate as any other member’s in the PDP.
The only worry is the bully tactics such as being exhibited in Rivers State. The incident triggered bi-partisan instant reaction in the National Assembly with the undisguised notice even by majority PDP members in the National Assembly.
Rather than allowing democracy to collapse, (as was in Egypt), Nigerian National Assembly will preferably abandon Jonathan to his fate as may be determined by his political miscalculation. National Assembly, in this case, comprises largely Goodluck Jonathan’s fellow elected PDP members since the party controls majority in the chamber.
If there was any doubt on where they stand on the Rivers State’s crisis or even on Jonathan’s present and future political aspirations, such doubt disappeared after the forced division in the Senate on the debate over the crisis in Rivers State.
As usual, the House of Representatives was even more damning on all the controversial issues – condemnation of the violence in Rivers State, assumption of the functions and legislative powers of the Rivers State House of Assembly and insistence on the re-deployment of Police Commissioner, James Mbu from the state. The vote was almost unanimous as only three or four members managed to voice opposition.
That should show President Jonathan the degree of support if any, he enjoys even among his party members in the National Assembly on the Rivers State political crisis. Jonathan might dissociate himself from the crisis but such self-claimed innocence is belied by his obsession with dislodgement of political opponents, including his famous god-father, ex-President Obasanjo.
At that stage, Jonathan may have the wrong impression that he is politically invincible. He had better know when and where to stop, or the party would assist him. President Jonathan is a PDP member and by the party’s convention, the leader.
Some of his men in Rivers State House of Assembly, in fact, only five, ganged up and claimed to have impeached the Speaker, who, by implication, still enjoys the support of the remaining twenty-six elected members.
Whatever his other qualification later in life, a President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria must have passed through primary school where he must have been taught that throughout the world and at any state of humanity, a group of five can never have it over another group of twenty-six in all matters of majority decision.
The situation in Rivers State had been lingering for months. Where was Goodluck Jonathan and why has he failed so far to educate the dissident five members in Rivers State House of Assembly that they are wrong and will continue to be wrong till eternity? Jonathan claims complete innocence of the threatening anarchy in Rivers State. The only deception is self-deceit. There is a consolation.
Even Jonathan now realises he can be impeached. Hence, the desperate reaction to the call for his impeachment made by the Action Congress of Nigeria. Impeachment move for alleged violation of constitution will comprise series of offences overlooked all along.
In case others had been deceiving or flattering him, the bitter truth is that Jonathan has substantially alienated the political support he claimed to have attracted in 2011. Not the least, Governor Amaechi who recorded over ninety per cent of the total votes in Rivers State for Jonathan. Not the least, former President Olusegun Obasanjo who single-handedly sponsored him to the Presidency.
Not the least, the Action Congress of Nigeria leadership, which engaged in gerrymandering against its, own presidential candidate, all in favour of Goodluck Jonathan. Not the least, the PDP-controlled National Assembly against Commissioner James Mbu conveniently retained in Rivers State by Police-Inspector-General, Mohammed Abubakar, unwilling to upset Jonathan who appointed him IG.
Is Jonathan not worried by the complete silence throughout north western Nigeria? Jonathan should even be fair to himself by seeing Amaechi as a sincere political opponent or even enemy better than presumed hypocritical supporters among some PDP governors.
National Assembly saw the danger Jonathan might not have seen in the position of the political rascals in Rivers State. If they got away with their five votes to impeach the Speaker of Rivers State House of Assembly, the next stop would have been the National Assembly to similarly impeach the Speaker of House of Representatives or President of Senate with minority votes.
All the same, the reaction of the National Assembly members must not be seen as self-preservation but a notice to the rascals in Rivers State or whoever might be sponsoring them, not to set the nation ablaze. It is also not enough to deny Jonathan’s involvement in impeachable misconduct. He should be advised not to allow himself to be remotely suspected of such political/constitutional crimes.
For these purposes, there cannot be the blackmail of plot against “our son” or our party. The loyalty of National Assembly in impeachment prospects is primarily to the nation before an individual or even the party.
Nigeria must defy Britain on death penalty
If anybody ever thought enforcement of laws on capital punishment in this country would pass without the pontification of unsolicited foreigners, such Nigerian must have been underestimating the delusion of these ex-colonial rulers in failing or refusing to grasp the reality of the sovereignty of each country, all over the world.
It is, therefore, essential that President Goodluck Jonathan and Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, stand firm on the all-important question of death penalty prescribed for offences posing insecurity to lives and property in Nigeria. Governor Oshiomhole duly performed his duty by signing the death warrant of only four out of the possible hundreds facing execution.
Remarkably, all of them earned their fate after due process of law through fair trial from Magistrates/High Courts, Appeal Court to the Supreme Court.
What is more, nobody should be surprised at the executions. Despite the country-wide threat of anarchy posed by the criminals, Governor Oshiomhole stood out among the crowd (of governors) by alerting Nigerians that, to stem the wave of insecurity, he would sign any death warrant of any condemned criminal.
It was therefore mischievous of critics who read revenge motive into Oshiomhole’s performance of his constitutional duty as aimed at making up for the murder of one of his aides, Olaitan Oyerinde, who was murdered for no reason. Even if that were so, did Oyerinde deserve to be murdered without deterrence for the culprits? Before Governor Oshiomhole took the stern measure, there were general complaints and accusations by Nigerians and foreigners against President Jonathan for allegedly being weak to guarantee security.
All that has therefore happened with the execution of the culprits is a direct attack at the major source of the insecurity. It is therefore hypocritical of the critics, Nigerians and foreigners alike, to express anger at the war on insecurity. On his part, President Jonathan must go the who hog. Governor Oshiomhole is only one out of thirty-six state governors and insecurity is all over the country rather than only Edo State.
For his courage in carrying out the executions, Oshiomhole has commenced the process of relieving President Jonathan of the misplaced criticisms of being weak and incapable of guaranteeing security. Jonathan must therefore not leave Oshiomhole seemingly as the bad guy among the state governors. He (Jonathan) must make the remaining thirty-five state governors account for convicts in the death cell.
Much as Jonathan cannot force a governor against the governor’s will, to sign death warrants, all such unwilling governors must be acquainted with the consequences. In a situation of such misguided moral posture in violation of the oath of office to which each governor swore to enforce laws, the Federal Government has the duty under the constitution to deal with any breakdown of law and order arising from insecurity posed by kidnappers, murderers, arsonists and armed robbers.
That duty in our present situation is for President Jonathan to declare emergency throughout the state concerned, suspend the governor for at least six months and restore normalcy. Jonathan has no choice or he will then deserve the blame for being weak to guarantee security in the country.
For the record, Jonathan deserves credit for coming out strong to discuss Britain’s criticisms on the reactivation of execution for capital offences. Particularly robust was the reminder, in case the former colonialists forgot, that Britain introduced death penalty in Nigeria. We were in this country in 1953 under British rule when eleven convicts were hanged one morning at Broad Street prison in Lagos for the murder of one law-abiding citizen, a Muslim preacher, Alhaji Bisiriyu Apalara.
Two years later, another set of five convicts were hanged in the same prison for the murder of a Nigerian musician, Israel Njemanze. It was therefore re-assuring that President Jonathan and Governor Oshiomhole have refused to be intimidated by Britain, the Commonwealth, European Union and Amnesty International. Beneath the arrogance of this group of critics is disregard, partly with racist undertone for Nigeria’s sovereignty. By whatever name they are called and however committed, murder is murder and the punishment is execution.
When a group of people declares and wages war against another people in another country, the name is unprovoked murder. And when the countries on the receiving end legitimately inflict the punishment even through unmanned drones, the name is execution for murder. In fact, such executions by the United States and Israel are largely pre-emptive and without trial. Those so executed are at the worst suspects and at the best accused.
This is not to say that United States and Israel violate any law since the first duty of any nation is to guarantee the safety and survival of its law-abiding citizens. The similar duty of Nigerian nation is to guarantee the safety and survival of its law-abiding citizens against the established crimes of murderers, kidnappers and armed robbers who kill their victims.
The life of a law-abiding citizen unlawfully murdered is not less valuable than his American and Israeli fellow citizens of the world. America and Israel take lawful, pre-emptive deterrent measures just as Nigeria takes lawful, punitive deterrent measures to contain these criminals.
It must therefore be noted that for whatever measures United States or Israel takes, including execution through unmanned drones, Britain, the Commonwealth, Amnesty International and other foreign moralities have never reacted critically. Why then the hostility against Nigeria? Nigerian Government is answerable to Nigerians, rather than to the Commonwealth or Amnesty International.
Even on the domestic scene, America still operates the death penalty in most states. Yet, Britain never raised objections. With the death warrant Governor Oshiomhole signed, other criminals will henceforth flee Edo State for neighbouring states condoning murderers.

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