By; JOSHUA I. EGBODO, Abuja
Members of the House of Representatives on Wednesday kicked over a bill seeking to empower the National Assembly to impeach state governors and their deputies.
The Bill which was jointly signed by Edward Pajwok and Ali Isa was intended to alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, by deleting the proviso to Section 11(4), to enable the National Assembly to “Remove a Governor or Deputy Governor of a State in Appropriate Circumstances”.
Members however kicked against its second reading, with the Majority Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila blaming the Rules and Business Committee, for allowing it to be listed for debate. “Of course the constitution can be amended for any purpose, but certainly not for such. Our constitution tells us that we run a federal system of government. Allowing this bill means a unitary system of government.
“The bill dies on the ground of vagueness. It is left for us to determine what is appropriate. Why are we wasting our legislative time on this bill? It’s dead on arrival. Why is this bill before this House? To allow us to impeach a governor?”, Gbajabiamila stated.
Speaking also, Peter Akpatason pointed out that the only constitutionally allowed intervention, was for the National Assembly to take over the legislative functions of any state House of Assembly, only if such is unable to perform its function based on the conditions outlined in the constitution. “I don’t think we should use that temporary power to remove a governor. If we allow it, one day we may seek powers to remove a local government chairman”, he said.
Ayo Omidiran on her part, asked that the bill be discarded as further debate on it may amount to embarrassing the House. “We shouldn’t waste our time on this bill. The more we talk about it, the more it will attract embarrassment to us and the institution we represent. This bill, for all intents and purposes, shouldn’t be allowed to scale through. Anybody that has issues with his governor should go and settle it, and not use the National Assembly”, the lawmaker said.
Responding later, Pajwok who earlier led the debate said; “I believe that this bill is generating some interests and controversy. It’s not as if we just want to remove a governor or deputy for the sake of removing them. No, it’s based on Section 11 (4): at any time when a House of Assembly of a state is unable to perform its function, the National Assembly shall do so on its behalf.
“Today is one of my happiest days in this House, because we have succeeded in telling Nigerians that they have no reason to fear this 8th House. This means that Nigerians can go to sleep with rest of mind”, before he asked that the bill be withdrawn.