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‘Go Obasanjo, Atiku go'

Posted by EMMA AMAIZE, EMEKA MAMAH, ROTIMI AJAYI & HABIB YAKOOB on 2006/09/17 | Views: 820 |

‘Go Obasanjo, Atiku go'

IF some members of the House of Representatives have their way, President Olusegun Obasanjo and Vice President Atiku Abubakar would vacate their offices on the strength of the allegations and counter allegations of corruption that both of them have lately traded.

* Reps, others mobilise for impeachment
* Arewa worried, fears for democracy

IF some members of the House of Representatives have their way, President Olusegun Obasanjo and Vice President Atiku Abubakar would vacate their offices on the strength of the allegations and counter allegations of corruption that both of them have lately traded.

The members appear to be mounting pressure on the House leadership to investigate both men while also mobilising their colleagues towards their impeachment.
A human rights activist joined the clamour for the impeachment of the president and his deputy amid growing concern that the Obasanjo/Atiku feud could pose significant threat to the nation’s nascent democracy.

The northern influential group, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), warned that the feud in the seat of power had the capacity to impact negatively on democracy. On his own, Ijaw leader, Chief Edwin Clark, among others, urged caution in handling the crisis, pleading the intervention of senior citizens, traditional rulers, men of God, elder statesmen to resolve the feud.

In separate interviews at the weekend, House of Representatives members at the forefront of the move to impeach Obasanjo and Atiku predicated their action on the need to save the country from political instability which the feud between the nation’s first two citizens was capable of throwing the nation into.
Honourable Idris Nadabo, who had in the past spearheaded impeachment move against the president twice, told Sunday Vanguard that he had the support of “sizeable number” of members of the House to initiate the impeachment of Obasanjo and Atiku.

According to him, the pro-impeachment lawmakers were in touch with the House leadership, hinting that they wanted the process to start within the next two weeks. “The president and the vice have been washing their dirty linen in the public. I have discussed with a number of my colleagues, and our position is that they should be allowed to reveal more about themselves, so as to provide more facts for us.

“Now, in the next one week or two, we would have got enough and also be in the position to move for an impeachment against the two of them. This is the fact. Both of them have caused enough trouble for us, and if we must have a peaceful and credible election in 2007, then they both have to go”, he said.

According to him, members would have to de-emphasise their party interests and move against the two in the interest of the nation.
Another House member, Hon. Wale Okediran, cautioned against allowing the crisis to deteriorate, but said since facts indicting the president and the vice, were beginning to come to the open, both should be investigated.

Said he: “ I think that if care is not taken, it could pose a major threat to our nascent democracy. As you can see, facts are coming out on daily basis, which can go a long way in indicting the president and the vice on matters of corruption. To me, if we are talking about corruption as it relates to the two, it is only choosing between six and half a dozen. “Both could become culpable and I think the way out is for the National Assembly to intervene, and begin an investigation and if it is confirmed that both have in any way abused their offices, the property should be refunded and the matter tabled before the National Assembly for serious action.”

Speaking in the same vein, Honourable Usman Adamu, said, “The fact of the matter is that these allegations are serious from both ends. I am bothered about the 2007 elections and if we continue to allow this, it may be bad for the country. I want the House to begin investigation into the case and if the two are found to be guilty afterwards, why should they stay?”

Echoing the lawmakers sentiment, the national coordinator of the Human Rights Defenders Organization of Nigeria (HURDON), Sir Casley Omon-Irabor, said, weekend, that both Obasanjo and Atiku had been indicted from the claims made by them and therefore urged both of them to quit Aso Villa.
He said it was wrong for Obasanjo to single out his deputy for punishment because he opposed his third term aspiration and asked whether the president would have moved against Atiku if he had supported his tenure elongation agenda.

His words: “The problem between the president and the vice president to me is more political than criminal. I do not know how the president wants to convince the masses of this country that the vice president is highly corrupt while he is a saint”.

The provisions of sections
143 and 144 of the 1999 Constitution clearly state the offences that can be committed by the president or his deputy that would amount to gross misconduct. And it is when gross misconduct is established that you begin a process of impeachment. The question now is where does EFCC come in?
“Again, if the EFCC found out that the Obasanjo/Atiku Campaign Organisation was used in siphoning money of the Federal Government, then why make Atiku a scape goat? I think the major culprit is Obasanjo himself because he was the leader and owner of Obasanjo/Atiku Campaign Organisation that enthroned him for a second term. The issue now is assuming that the vice president cooperated with the president for a third term, would there have been a problem or an impeachment now? I think Nigerians are wiser.

“I am not holding brief for the vice president, but the president is not a saint either. So they should both quit the stage. I must tell you the underlining factor is that Obasanjo wants to heat up the polity and create an atmosphere for anarchy and chaos and then there will be no election, his much cherished third term will finally come in through the back door. You can be sure Nigerians will not fold their hands.

Threat to democracy - ACF
Expressing concern over the Obasanjo/Atiku standoff, weekend, ACF warned that it could scuttle the nation’s democratic process.
To underscore the group’s concern, the national secretary, Col. Hamed Ali (rtd), said the umbrella organisation of all northern socio-political groups would soon meet to take a stand on the matter.

“Our concern goes beyond power shift or about Atiku or the north even. Our concern goes beyond that. It should be the concern of all that the two topmost government officials in the country are quarreling and exposing themselves in the manner they are going about it”, he said

According to him, although the feud between Obasanjo and Atiku started long time ago, the matter was an ill-wind that would blow no one any good because of its implications for democracy and the country in general. “It is not something that started now or yesterday, but it worries ACF. At the rate things are happening, it is not affecting the north or ACF or just one section of the country alone. It is affecting the country as a whole.”

Ali said that ACF would soon meet in Kaduna to take a position on the matter after reviewing the issues involved thoroughly. “ACF will meet in Kaduna very soon to have a though discussion of the issues involved and come out with a position on it. Very soon, we will meet and you [press] will be informed”, he added.
Meanwhile, Ijaw leader, Chief Edwin Clark, weekend, urged Nigerian senior citizens, among others, to intervene with a view to resolving the rift between the president and his vice.

Clark’s words: “Both the president and the vice president are leaders of the country and any quarrel between them will affect the oneness and unity of this country knowing that Nigeria has not grown above ethnic politics and tribal idiosyncrasies”. “Senior citizens, eminent traditional rulers, religious leaders, well-meaning Nigerians and elders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) across the six geo-political zones should step into the matter with a view to stopping it from further degenerating to ludicrous level”.

The elder statesman observed that the period between now and the 2007 presidential election was very important to the survival of democracy in the country and the two leaders should not be involved in the kind of feud that is currently playing out, as it will not only affect the election but also create problem for the nation.

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