Andy Essiet, Calabar
Insecurity is a big threat to the existence of Nigeria and worried that this situation may consume the entire system, some senators in the red chamber member issued a six week ultimatum to President Mohammadu Buhari to restore normalcy or get impeached. In view of this, Senator Gershom Bassey spoke with some newsmen re-emphasising the seriousness of the impeachment threat. Excerpts:
Senators raise impeachment threat on President Muhammadu Buhari, what is your take on this?
I think the media somehow has missed the point of our action. The point of our action is to ensure safety and security in our country. The point of our action is not impeachment, but to ensure safety and security in Nigeria. That’s why we have given 6-week threshold within which we want the executive, particularly Mr President, to do something about security in our country.
Our best hope is that the president will respond to what we are saying; to what we are doing. And at the end of 6 weeks everything would have been sorted out. The security situation, to a large extent, would have been resolved. That’s the point of our action. It is the part one that should be the focus, not so much part two. Part two happens when we fail to achieve part one. In other words, if there is continued insecurity without the type of response that we expect within 6 weeks then we move to part two.
So it appears that the focus has been on part two, the impeachment notice. Yes. That one is real. We are serious about that, but we will only get there if part one which is the actions against the situation in our country does not improved. For instance, why are there people in captivity from the Kaduna incident? Why has nobody been arrested or nobody been held accountable for what happened in Kuje prison? These are actions that can immediately be taken by Mr President to show that he’s in tandem with us; the number of actions that need to be taken to show that yes we are doing something about the situation and we are going to resolve this situation. That’s what we are talking about.
Do opposition lawmakers have the number to carryout the impeachment?
It’s not just the opposition. I think a number of our leaders have made that point and that point was made again today. It’s about the Senate. We are the ones speaking. We are the ones at the forefront, but it’s not just about us, it is about the entire National Assembly.
Going by the disposition of the presiding officer of the Senate, are you sure that your threat at the end of the day, the presiding officers will cooperate with you?
I think the Senate President said it when we were talking about something else and he said, “Look, it’s not about me, it’s about the Senate.” He presides over the Senate, and the thought is that the presiding officers are the entire Senate. Yes. I’m sure that the presiding officers will agree with whatever it is the Senate as a body agrees to.
This is not the first time the Senate has been calling on the executive to act, this time around can you assure Nigerians that this impeachment threat will not just be a threat on paper…?
Our hope is that we won’t get to that. Our hope is that the executive will act and take steps. Look, people are dying everyday. A lot of people feel insecure wherever they are in Nigeria. The essence of the action is to reduce to a large extent, if possible, even go towards eliminating insecurity. That’s the whole point of the action. I know it’s nice to talk about the impeachment and so on, yes we are serious about that, but our hope is that we do not get to that; that the president and this government finally respond to all the notices and to all the cooperations and support that as a National Assembly has been giving to the government and that they finally do the needful and restore security to our nation.
Based on Femi Adesina’s position that it’s opposition party that is championing it, don’t you think that it will be seen as a political war against the president, eespeciall in this political season?
Do you feel secure in Nigeria? So how can it be a political war. We are not talking politics here. We are talking security. Security is not politics. Like I said, this is a bipartisan effort to ensure that the executive is up and doing. 6 weeks is just the last stroke. We’ve been giving this recommendations, budgetary support since 2017 we have been talking about insecurity in Nigeria. So it’s not as if it’s just happening in the last 6 weeks. We have been talking about it and passing resolutions. We have been giving them money; they brought supplementary budget we passed it. We have given every single cooperation that we can.
For the purpose of clarity on what happened in the senate on the six weeks ultimatum , please can you run us through what it was supposed to be…?
What we discussed in closed session stays in the closed session, and normally after the closed session the Senate President or the presiding officer comes out and brief the public on what has been discussed. I heard the Senate President came out and said something after the closed session, but I think the perception was that he did not say enough, and that he did not describe what actually happened in there to the satisfaction of a lot of Senators. That’s why you saw the point of order that was raised by Senator Philip Aduda. And of course that point of order, the Senate President on technicality shut it down. That was really what happened. Nothing more happened.
Will you say that the Senate President was trying to protect some particular interest?
I think that question is for the Senate President, not for me.
On the election in Cross River State
In Cross River State we went for the primaries and the party opted to go in a different direction. So this is where we are. I’m a party man. There’s no other move. Once the party takes a decision we abide by it.
Can you mention some of the resolutions on security the Senate has sent to the president?
We had two security conferences and we have come up with a whole lists. One of the things we had recommended at the time was the change of security chiefs which was done to a large extent, but it wasn’t changed for the sake of change. It was changed in order to achieve some level of performance and the bottom line is that we have not seen that performance. We don’t know what the problem is. It’s for the executive that will know better. They now came back with a supplementary budget of about N900billion for security and we passed it. We gave them the 800 or 900 billion they asked for. We gave them that money proud that we are giving money for security issues. Anytime they asked for money concerning security this Senate, and the National Assembly as a whole is very serious about it. That’s where we are. The bottom line is that security is not improving. We are not talking about money now, we are just saying let security improve.