State Assemblies, Impeachment Plots and the Boomerang Effects

Gov. Babangida Aliyu

The heavy defeat suffered by the ruling party, PDP in the just concluded general elections has taken its toll on the party and right now the centre can no longer hold. Things have fallen apart. With less than 3 weeks to the end of this present government, a lot of drama and surprises have been going on daily basis across the states.

Gov. Babangida Aliyu
Gov. Babangida Aliyu

The failure of the ruling party has caused a series of uprising in some state assemblies which has led to a superiority battle between the legislatures and the executives.

This is the first time since our return to democracy that about 3 governors will be battling impeachment plots towards the end of their tenures. The intensity at which state law makers are pursuing these impeachment plots leaves a lot to the imagination.

The affected governors are Gov. Babangida Aliyu, of Niger state, Ibrahim Shehu Shema of Katsina state and the latest Sullivan Chima of Enugu state.

Residents of Enugu state woke up early of Monday last week morning to the news of the impeachment plot of Gov. Sullivan Chime by 14 lawmakers in the State House of Assembly, led by the speaker, Hon. Eugene Odo.

The aggrieved lawmakers leveled series of allegations against him including an attempt to secure an 11 billion Naira loan less than 3 weeks to the end of his tenure.

Most of the allegations against the governors didn’t happen after the general elections so why this rush hour? Are the law makers being vindictive after being used and dumped, gross misconduct or executive lawlessness?

If the questions above are the reasons behind such plots, then it brings us to the conclusion that our state legislators are nothing but “rubber stamp legislatures”. A political metaphor often used to refer to weak parliaments. That’s why state governors will engage in all sorts of illegality to ensure their party wins majority of the seats in their state assemblies.

An example is the 7 against 18 impeachment of the House of Assembly Speaker in Ekiti state on Monday 17th November 2014 which has divided the State House of Assembly into parallel lines till date.

The next is to anoint and elect venile law makers loyal to them as principal officers to resist any form of challenge from the house. With limited powers, the principal officers automatically turns to errand boys and are at the beck and call of their governors. Any law maker that goes contrary to the governor’s decision is marked a rebel and is either impeached or suspended.

Aftermath of the general elections, the state assemblies are falling apart, apart from the 3 aformentioned states, many state governors are under threats of impeachment barely 3 weeks to the end of their tenures. Will the law makers succeed in their impeachment plots? So far, the unintended boomerang effect has been appalling. The distinctive features about these episodes is that almost all the Speakers of the state assemblies that had issues concerning their member’s welfare and the Speakers that commenced the impeachment process of their governors after the general elections have all been impeached in controversial circumstances by law makers loyal to the governors in their respective states. The affected states are Speakers of Kebbi, Adamawa, Niger and Enugu states.

The attempted impeachment plots of the out going state governors without external interference is a warning to the incoming administration at the state level. The era of impunity entrenched by the state governors on their legislatures is finally over. Never again will states condone such an illegality, whereby less than two-thirds majority members of state assemblies will seat and impeach a Speaker on the orders of the state governor.

The incoming administration that will take over from May 29th, 2015 will usher in an unprecedented change. With the change on guard at the centre, state law makers will now be able to carry out their legislative functions without fear or favour coupled with the fact that virtually all the dramatis personae involved in this show of power will be off the stage after May 29th.

Written by
Joe Onwukeme
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