Tuesday’s removal from office of Adamawa State Governor, Murtala Nyako, may just mark the beginning of another season of impeachments ahead of 2015, writes JOHN ALECHENU
Tuesday’s removal of the former Governor of Adamawa State, Admiral Murtala Nyako (retd.), from office by the Ahmadu Fintiri-led state House of Assembly, did not come as a surprise to those familiar with recent happenings in the state. Nyako’s removal makes it the sixth time a governor has been impeached in the country since 1999. Before now, five governors namely: Joshua Dariye (Plateau), Rashidi Ladoja (Oyo), DSP Alamieyeseigha (Bayelsa), Ayo Fayose (Ekiti) and Peter Obi (Anambra) were shown the door.
However, the Supreme Court overruled the lawmakers in Oyo, Plateau and Anambra for not following due process.
To Nyako’s opponents, his removal from office was long in coming because of the battle for the political soul of the state. Top-ranking politicians, serving and retired military officers, lawmakers and judicial officers who are indigenes of the state and who had an axe to grind with the impeached governor, found a common ground to seek for his removal from office. Their resolve was strengthened when Nyako took on President Goodluck Jonathan in his memo to his colleagues in the Northern Governors Forum. Nyako, had in the said memo in April, 2014, alleged that there was a full-fledged genocide against northern states and that the Federal Government was using the attack on Boko Haram to massively kill northerners. He also said that virtually all the soldiers of Northern Nigerian origin recently recruited to fight Boko Haram had been deceived in that aspect.
The ex-governor had said, ‘‘They are being poorly trained, totally ill-equipped, given only uniforms and are killed by their trainers in Nigerian Army training centres as soon as they arrive in the Nigerian Army camps being used by the so-called Boko Haram insurgents. Virtually all the Nigerian Army soldiers killed/murdered in these operations so far are of Northern Nigeria origin.
“The Administration has also hired militia men from all across, especially North Africa, who have been deceived into accepting to come because they were made to believe that they would be fighting infidels.”
The retired Naval Admiral, who enjoyed the rare privilege of serving as Chief of Naval Staff and later Chief of Defence Staff, was until his foray into politics, a highly successful commercial farmer. He was made famous by his special breed of mangoes which earned him the title “Baba Mai Mangoro” among friends and foes alike.
He was literally dragged into the governorship race and handed the Peoples Democratic Party governorship ticket by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who was desperate to cause “home trouble” for his then estranged Vice-President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
Nyako has to his credit a successful career in the military having fought on the federal side during the Nigerian Civil War and has scars on his leg by shrapnel wounds to show for it. He, however, appears little prepared for the level of intrigues and treachery which characterises politics in this part of the world.
He unwittingly played into the hands of his opponents with various political slips. He fought the erstwhile national chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, over the party structure because he and the former desire the governorship position for their sons. The face-off led to a breakdown in their relationship.
Some of his other “sins” include his parting of ways with several of his political benefactors, his decision to dump the ruling Peoples Democratic Party; whose platform he used to become governor, and his decision to take on the President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria.
For all of his offences, the last two were adjudged unpardonable sins which must not be allowed to go unpunished. This is even more so when the 2015 general elections are by the corner with the opposition All Progressives Congress party daily accusing the President of being “clueless.” The APC also taunts Jonathan as lacking the requisite qualities required of a leader of the most populous black nation on the face of the earth. Those familiar with the politics of the state, argue that the governor has no one other than himself to blame for the turn of events.
According to several political leaders from the state, who for strategic reasons sought anonymity, the governor behaved like an inexperienced general, who fought several battles against more powerful opponents at the same time.
As one of such individuals confided in our correspondent, “Nyako should have known that the game was up when he left the PDP without his deputy and a substantial number of members of the State House of Assembly. He should have learnt a thing or two from his friends in Kano and Rivers states. To make matters worse, instead of retracing his steps and making peace he decided to take on the President through that ill-advised memo to Northern governors. He did all these having the full knowledge that people like the former Political Adviser to the President, Ahmed Gulak, the Chief of Defence Staff and other indigenes of the state who have the ears of the President are his political rivals who were prepared to capitalise on any slip to deal with him.”
Another source said “I am aware that the governor had an agreement with at least 11 of the legislators long before the crisis that consumed him began, he had a welfare package agreement with them, and he never honoured it for once. They were only too happy to join others when the chips were down.”
The die was cast when members of the PDP dominated state House of Assembly accused Nyako of gross misconduct and prepared a list of impeachable offences against him and his deputy, Mr. Bala Ngilari.
It became apparent that the governor’s days were numbered when the then acting Chief Judge of the state, Justice Ambrose Mammadi, reversed himself barely 48 hours after he threw out a request to set up a panel to investigate the governor. Mammadi set up a seven-man committee to investigate the allegations, setting off a chain of events which led to the ouster of the governor.
The panel which was inaugurated on a Monday sat only thrice and produced a report. Section 188 of the 1999 Constitution, stipulates that such a panel has three months to investigate such allegations, and allow the respondents to defend themselves.
Some, however, argue that this constitutional provision only gives a time limit of three months within which the panel can sit and not that it has to sit for that long. Those in this school of thought observed that none of the previous impeachment probe panels in the country sat for that long.
Although there have been spirited efforts by federal authorities to distance themselves from Nyako’s removal, the decision of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to freeze the state accounts without a court order calls to question such claims.
Nyako’s declaration absolving the President of complicity in his travails was considered as an olive branch from the then embattled governor. It was a gesture which came a little too late.
The opposition APC had as far back as December, 2013 when five governors defected from the PDP to the APC, cautioned against a plot by the ruling party to declare the seats of the affected governors vacant.
The governors include: Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano), Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara), Aliyu Wamako (Sokoto) and Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers).
In a statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party had said, “We have irrefutable evidence that the PDP is desperately shopping for a pliant judge who will be heavily induced to declare vacant the seats of the five governors who recently defected to the APC. We also have the name of the lawyers who have been retained by the PDP for this hatchet job.
“We know the PDP and the Presidency are anarchic and nihilistic, and will not mind to pursue any narrow and selfish objective, even if doing such can plunge the nation into crisis. But their cup is gradually getting full.
“Having got away with their trademark impunity in Delta and Anambra states, these lawless, reckless and feckless people of malfeasance now believe they can continue to act without regards to the laws of the land and with no scintilla of decency.”
Already, the Governor of Nassarawa State, Alhaji Tanko Almakura, has been served with an impeachment notice and is currently fighting the political battle of his life. Alleged attempts to win over legislators in Rivers State to move against the Governor Rotimi Amaechi have so far been unsuccessful because a majority of the legislators are supportive of the governor.
Nyako’s removal and the loss of Ekiti State have undoubtedly dealt a blow to permutations by the opposition APC in the runoff to the 2015 elections. It was learnt that the party had pressured Nyako to hang on at a time he wanted to resign. It remains to be seen how the party will respond to what appears to be PDP’s gale of strategic victories.
Nigerians are watching with keen interest how Fintiri, who was sworn-in on Tuesday, would pilot the affairs of the state.