For a country that doesn’t have a history of exceptional leadership, it’s such a wonder that Nigeria has never impeached a democratically-elected president before.
The only way to explain that is that political interests at the national level are too entrenched to pull off an impeachment — plus the complicated process of removing an elected president from office.
But Buhari is now facing threats of removal if he doesn’t get his act together and fix everything in six weeks.
What’s the real tea?
During a plenary session of the Senate on Wednesday, July 27th, 2022, senators on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) dramatically walked out of the chamber.
The protest happened shortly after the end of a two-hour closed-door executive session. This is the kind of session where the senators discuss things they don’t want the public to feast on.
When they resumed regular session and let the media and public back inside the chamber, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, just wanted things to proceed as outlined on the day’s agenda. But the Minority Leader, Philip Aduda, said, “Hold on, wait a minute. Aren’t we forgetting something?”
The something Aduda was referring to was a discussion during the closed-door session that involved Buhari. Apparently, senators expressed their disappointment about how the president has handled Nigeria’s security crisis so badly.
They’d agreed to publicly ask him to fix the situation in six weeks or face impeachment, but Lawan failed to allow the issue to be tabled when they resumed the public session.
Aduda then staged a walkout with other senators in minority parties, before briefing the media on what they’re cooking.
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Will Buhari be impeached?
The impeachment position of the rebellious senators resonates with a section of Nigerians, but there are a number of reasons it’s doomed to fail.
APC majority won’t let it happen
This is kind of straightforward. The APC controls a majority in the Senate and the House of Representatives. For a Nigerian president to be impeached, a two-thirds majority of all National Assembly members must be on board once a notice is served.
Just by the pure politics of it alone, there’s no way an impeachment proceeding will fly in an APC-dominated parliament. As hopeful as it is to believe Nigerian lawmakers can put party loyalties aside and evaluate Nigeria’s dire situation more objectively, it’s unlikely to happen.
Buhari has survived impeachment threats before
If there’s a Nigerian politician who has nine lives, his name is Buhari. He didn’t contest for the presidency five times, survive a bomb attack and battle mysterious illnesses, to fall to impeachment.
This isn’t the first time Nigerian lawmakers have threatened Buhari with impeachment over incompetence on security. But the history of those threats shows it’s all bark and no bite. An impeachment notice for Buhari will likely never even reach the floor of the National Assembly.
It’s all political theatre
If the senators that threatened to impeach Buhari are actually serious about it, they’d just go ahead and do it. Instead, they’ve set him a deadline of six weeks to solve the insecurity he’s failed to solve in seven years. What would be the metric of success in six weeks? Less frequent terrorist attacks or an impossible zero? How will they determine his success or failure? What’ll happen when the Senate resumes from its “summer break” in September?
There’s a timeline issue
Even if all of the points that have come before this are irrelevant and protesting lawmakers actually have a shot at removing the president, there’s a question of if it’s worth the trouble. Impeachment is a long and tedious process that gets very political and messy. It all seems like unnecessarily rocking the boat for a president with 10 months left to retirement.
But, in any case, we watch and wait.
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