Not a few Nigerians watched on television and social media with mixed feelings, the drama by opposition members of the Senate who engaged in a rowdy rally last week, as they staged a walk-out during plenary in protest of a failed bid to impeach President Muhamadu Buhari.
According to Philip Aduda, the Leader of the opposition in the Senate, their protest was due to the refusal of the President of the Senate Ahmed Lawan, to allow a plenary debate on the state of insecurity in the country. This, Aduda claimed was a breach of the agreement reached during a closed door session that preceded the plenary. At the closed door meeting the Senators had agreed to give President Buhari a six week ultimatum to rejig the security apparatus of the country, or face impeachment proceedings. The Senate drama was sequel to the recent security scares around Abuja the country’s capital, which is literally, now squarely in the gun sights of the terrorists.
To many Nigerians, the walkout looked more like a simple melodramatic response by the participating Senators in the wake of the recent viral reports of skirmishes between the military and insurgents. Yet they need to be commended for the gesture itself, given the operating circumstances of the Nigerian legislative establishment, which from the federal to the state and local government tiers, hangs on the apron strings of the relevant executive arm. On a more elaborate note, the situation once more calls into question the so called independence of the legislative arm of government.
Interestingly, given the trend of contingencies in the country under the watch of the present administration, the clamour for getting Buhari to step down from office, even before the end of his tenure on May 29th 2023, has been gathering support on the streets of Nigeria, with thousands identifying with the expectation on a daily basis. Among the more potent advocates for such a dispensation is the Northern Elders Forum, which has on several occasions raised its voice on the natter, through its spokesman Hakeem Baba Ahmed.
Another such credible voice is that of Anselm Chidi Odinkalu a Professor of Law who has never been found wanting in driving advocacies that offer the country, opportunities to move to the next level. Even Buhari himself has also been letting everybody who cared to know that he is tired of the job and is praying for as early an exit from office as possible. Hence the issue of sending him packing is a settled matter in the country’s public domain.
In fact, if some Nigerians had their way, the ouster should have taken place much earlier than now given the manifest, innumerable instances of failure of governance under his brief, and which unmistakably spawned much of the incongruities in the country, of which the now apocalyptic state of insecurity is just one of the national shames. Just as well, given the mood of the country, there is no gainsaying that for many Nigerians, it is doubtful if the country can ever recover from its present macabre dance in the vortex of crises, to its hitherto less fearful rhythm of a ‘suffering and smiling’ country (courtesy of late Afrobeat music maestro – Fela Anikulapo Kuti).That is a measure of how far things have gone bad, in the country.
Ordinarily therefore, the protesting Senators are actually in good company with respect to their bid to end Buhari’s tenure notionally, in the national interest. This contention is hardly because Nigerians hate Muhamadu Buhari as a person. On the contrary, he is a much beloved national hero, having served and retired as a General of the Nigerian Army, and whose personal charm has endeared him to serve as the Head of State of the country in two capacities: firstly as a military head of state and secondly as a democratically elected President. Hence the clamour for his exit from office at this time is driven by something much more profound than a personal factor.
Rather what matters now is how Nigeria will fare in the remaining ten months of the Buhari Presidency with contingencies escalating geometrically as it were in frequency and scope by the day. On one hand his handlers and supporters are singing his praises sky-high and cannot think of any other so disposed leader than him, as the savior of the country at this time. Meanwhile, the opposition lobby who see nothing but disaster in his continued stay in office, are calling for his head now. This leaves the superior position as that which safe guards the country for the foreseeable future,
This is also where the onus lies on the President to offer the country valid assurances with concrete measures that address extant contingencies on a real time, verifiable basis. It is time to prove to citizens—not just tell them that they are safe that they are safe in any part of the country from marauding terrorists. It serves no useful purpose to both the President and the citizenry for his designated lietunants to respond to expressed fears by the general public in the face of life threatening contingencies, with self-serving, bogus rhetoric and assurances based on imaginary safety guarantees. The threat from the terrorists on Abuja and other parts of the country is real and potent.
Some sages argue that fear, can like beauty be confined to the beholder. But when it is around an ongoing blood-letting spree, it is beyond the eye of the beholder and can only be resolved when the cause is eliminated.
That is why the case of the opposition Senators needs to be revisited as they speak for a frightened nation.