DESPITE protests in which three people were killed in the state, lawmakers of Nasarawa State are still going ahead with their impeachment plan against Governor Tanko Al-Makura. In the impeachment notice signed by 20 out of the 24 members of the Assembly, and made public on Thursday, July 17, the lawmakers levelled 16 charges bordering on alleged official gross misconduct against the governor.
The charges by the state House of Assembly include missing local government joint account funds between June 2011 and April 2012; and from January to July, 2013. The lawmakers said the alleged offences amounted to gross violation of section 162 (7 and 8) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended.
Al-Makura was similarly alleged to have misappropriated/misapplied funds in local government joint account and local government SURE-P Fund as well as transferred of local government Sure-P Fund to a fixed deposit account. The governor is also being accused of spending N13, 205,000 on his wife’s trips to Abuja.
But the plan to remove the governor seems to be unpopular. There have protests since Wednesday, July 16, when the impeachment notice first became public. Some youths in Lafia, the Nasarawa State capital, first took to the streets on Wednesday and continued on Thursday with angry youths in their thousands setting on fire a house said to belong to a man from the Eggon tribe in the state. Al-Makura is of Gwandera ethnic extraction, which is one of the smallest ethnic groups in the state. Three persons were allegedly killed in the unrest on Thursday.
Also on Thursday, a coalition of women groups comprising the Federation of Muslim Women Association of Nigeria, Christian Association of Nigeria, Women Wing and Women of Nasarawa State, Mothers of Nasarawa State and Women for Change, Nasarawa State, protested the impeachment moves against the governor. Hajara Danyaro, coordinator of the women groups, condemned the Nasarawa lawmakers’ action.
Danyaro said that women in the state voted for the lawmakers on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and voted Al-Makura on the platform of All the Progressives Congress, APC, and that the action of the legislators was uncalled for.
Danyaro accused the PDP of masterminding the impeachment move. She said the impeachment move coincided with the visit of President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday to inaugurate Ola Rice Farm at Rukubi in the Doma Local Government Area of the state.
The APC had on Wednesday similarly accused Jonathan of being behind the removal of Murtala Nyako of Adamawa State, saying it was part of the president’s ‘desperate’ plan to win re-election in 2015. But the Presidency in its response on the same Wednesday denied having hands in the removal of Nyako and described the opposition party’s accusations as lacking in substance.
Nigerians Divide Over $1 Billion Loan to Fight Insurgence
THE recent request by President Goodluck Jonathan to approve a $1 billion external loan for the federal government to prosecute Boko Haram insurgence in the country is causing controversy. Some prominent Nigerians are kicking against the request, saying it is unwarranted and unnecessary.
Femi Falana, SAN and delegate to the national conference, wants the National Assembly to reject the request made by President Goodluck Jonathan, asking for the Assembly’s approval for a $1bn loan to aid the war against the Islamic sects, Boko Haram. Falana argued that the president should be made to account for what the country had been doing with the huge budgetary allocation for defence in the past few years. “The request made by President Jonathan for approval of the Senate for a loan of $1 billion to fight the menace of the Boko Haram sect should be rejected in its entirety. Between 2010 and 2013 over N3tn was budgeted for defence. Under the Appropriation Bill signed into law on May 23 this year, 20 percent of the entire federal budget that is the sum of N968.127bn out of N4.962tn was earmarked for defence. The Senate should find out what happened to the defence budget in the middle of the year to warrant a supplementary budget of N160bn.”
Ben Okezie, journalist and security consultant, said the president’s request was unnecessary since the Army already had a budget which was being used to fund its counter-terrorism campaign in the North-East. He alleged that the government was only trying to blow the situation out of proportion, because according to him Boko Haram insurgents were not up to 2000 and that not all of them were armed. He, therefore, cautioned the National Assembly against approving the loan request.
He alleged that the money was being used as a camouflage and not for the war against insurgents. “What does the president want to buy with $1bn? Are they saying all the soldiers in the Army are going to fight against Boko Haram? The money is for 2015 elections,” Okezie alleged.
But Mike Omeri, coordinator of National Information Centre, said the federal government would not spare resources to bring back the schoolgirls abducted from the Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, on April 14. Omeri said the money requested by the government was to re-equip the military to tackle terrorism and replenish the stock of the military being used in prosecuting the war against Boko Haram. “Even the United States goes for this kind of facility. For any country involved in such military expedition, not just the Boko Haram issue, but engaged in a number of military exercises, its stock will deplete. Every country must restock to reinforce its capability.
President Jonathan had on Wednesday, July 16, forwarded a letter to the National Assembly, asking the lawmakers to urgently approve a $1billion external loan for the federal government to tackle Boko Haram, terrorist Islamic group. The letter dated July 15, 2014, was read on the floor of the Senate and that of the House of Representatives on Wednesday, by David Mark, the Senate president and Aminu Tambuwal, speaker of the House, respectively.
In the letter, Jonathan explained that the external loan was urgently needed to upgrade the equipment, training and logistics of the Armed Forces and security services in order to enable them to confront the insurgents more forcefully.