The National Assembly – Senate and House of Representatives – are persisting in their season of delusion. They continue to have an over bloated sense of the powers the Constitution confers on the legislature. Much as it is the arm of government with the most power, being direct representatives of the people just like the President who was voted by every Nigerian, the dubiousness and sheer ineptitude in the conduct of their affairs has made mockery of what the hallowed legislature is meant to be.
The latest in the errant direction chosen by these people paid on public fund is to chasing ghosts as evident in the shabby attempt to indict the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo of illegally approving N5.9 billion in disaster relief funding. Being the gentleman that he is, the Vice President took time to address the ignorance of the members that cooked up the misleading report.
But they had, in an attempt to get at the Presidency, aimed further down the hierarchy at those that answer to the Presidency. The report for instance demanded for the sack of the Director General of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Engineer Mustapha Maihaja. They brought a comical perspective into their report when they asked that employees of the agency that were suspended after being indicted for corruption be reinstated – that gives an indication into what else motivates them other than a morbid hatred of President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Osinbajo.
There is a long list of other heads of agency that the lawmakers have asked the President to sack. Ibrahim Magu of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission comes to mind same as Ibrahim Idris, the Inspector General of Police. The Service Chiefs have not been spared as the lawmakers at some point made the demand for their sack their raison d’être. They had at some point come even lower to ask for the sack of Jimoh Moshood as spokesperson for the Nigeria Police Force.
In between using their oversight function as a blackmail tool to shake down public office holders and abusing their sacred office to witch hunt President Buhari, they practically investigated every single head of agency looking for a smoking gun to pursue the impeachment notice they never get around to drafting. The only person to have escaped their angst is the wife of the president, Aisha Buhari.
With the fact that they are fast running short of options – those they have investigated refused to play ball – it is a matter of time they will investigate Aisha Buhari. It will be interesting to see what indictment they will bring against her. She could be guilty of being the wife of the president – guilt by association. She could be guilty of not being flamboyant enough; guilty of not spending enough money or spending too much money; guilty of not supporting her husband enough especially with her occasional criticisms. Just any accusation will do so far as it targets someone connected to the President.
But Aisha Buhari definitely cannot continue to be the only one yet to be investigated by a National Assembly that has become the police and the law court in addition to its statutory role of law-making and oversight function. When the lawmakers are done investigating her, they will in their tradition, indict her of anything they fancy and come to the inevitable recommendation that President Buhari must sack her before they will consider the 2019 Budget. So just when will the National Assembly ask President Buhari to sack his wife?
It is the pattern they have adopted. It is the strategy they want to use with NEMA by demanding for Maihaja’s sack – it is a matter of time before they go off the cliff and even ask for Vice President Osinbajo’s sack. It is a matter of anything to create distraction for the executive arm.
This obsession proves they are the problem as opposed to the solution they are presenting themselves to be. As eloquently articulated in Professor Osinbajo’s response to their fictitious report, NEMA was able to act in the interest of displaced persons and disaster victims, who would have practically starved under the method they are proposing. Even with the acceleration of the intervention, due process was still followed to ensure that all the relevant stakeholders made the input necessary. Perhaps these are technicalities that the lawmakers would never be able to comprehend for as long as they are fixated on making money and exacting their pound of flesh from the Presidency.
The same way President Buhari has looked beyond lie mongering to retain the best hands he has on board is the way he must not be drawn into taking knee jerking reactions to the House Report, which would be falling into the trap they have in mind for him. If he sacks Maihaja the next thing the lawmakers will ask for is the sack of the Vice President and finally the President himself – all based on the report of an investigation that was not even transparently held in the open.
Agbese is a researcher in Human Rights Law based in the United Kingdom.