By Okezi Uwede-Meshack
“Whether there is legalese or not, we cannot rule out the fact that there are a lot of constitutional issues: rights, status and justifications have been questioned by the several acts in the House with its leadership. I believe steadily that his defection is in no way unconstitutional. What seems to be more of the issue is the fact that there is the rumored preference of Aminu Tambuwal for Presidency over Buhari in his new party and so the power of incumbency is set to frustrate his efforts by throwing him off balance.”
If laughter and worry were elixirs of life then Nigerians would have no issues with eternity. We have these two ironical features in abundance in every action, circumstance and decision of our elected leaders and this is indeed worrisome. The laughable thing about the political situation is the manner in which occupants of the top echelons misquote and misapply the laws in ways that are ordinarily unthinkable till they are perpetuated. Then they are announced on the news media and the average Nigerian is struck with such awe, disdain and anger but just resorts to laughter to ease the tension. Today, I am particularly drawn to the worrisome situation of the leader of the 360-member House of Representatives and his legal woes in the recent past week.
Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal, 48 years old was born in Tambuwal village in Sokoto and represents the Kebbe/Tambuwal Federal Constituency. Called into the Nigerian Bar in 1992, the young lawyer set out to practice the law till 1999 when he joined full time active political involvement learning legislative ropes. He was elected as member of the house in 2003 till 2007 when he was elected deputy chief whip. He moved on to becoming the Speaker when he was elected into that office on the 6th of June 2011. This short political history of a man whose representation is embedded in his name and identity speaks of one who has wealth of knowledge both in the law and with political administration in Nigeria. But let us tell the tales of his recent struggle and the attendant issues.
He recently announced his defection from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC), which led to a lot of issues ranging from the sacking of his security aides to several calls for his removal from the office he occupies. These are Constitutional matters and as a catechist in the constitutional vineyard myself, I should make some comments. First, it must be noted that occupation of the office of the Speaker is not by parties but by persons as rightly stated in the Chapter 5 of the Constitution. Section 50 particularly hinges the office of the speaker of the House of Representatives to membership. Section 65 qualifies a person to run for election as a member of the house by his citizenship, age, education and belonging to a party and being sponsored by that party. The Constitution only gives qualification for election into the house. And as such a person is not mandated to remain in the particular political party that sponsored him into the house nor even any other political party, as every person has freedom of association as guaranteed under section 40 of the same Constitution.
Whether there is legalese or not, we cannot rule out the fact that there are a lot of constitutional issues: rights, status and justifications have been questioned by the several acts in the House with its leadership. I believe steadily that his defection is in no way unconstitutional. What seems to be more of the issue is the fact that there is the rumored preference of Aminu Tambuwal for Presidency over Buhari in his new party and so the power of incumbency is set to frustrate his efforts by throwing him off balance. This rumor if for anything seems to have some weight of validity and this would mean serious competition for President Goodluck Jonathan come 2015
The law suits have followed. Of course you do not expect a lawyer to keep quiet knowing he has access to the temple of justice where he can make prayers for atonement of sins as well as vengeance on his enemies. But someone needs to tell our politicians that the law is not just a tool for such atonements nor an instructional bulldozer of rights and privileges. The law is also a tool for social engineering. The law is a wand by which spells of development can be cast to work the magic. If all Nigerians realized the oppressions and denials of privileges that we have and face and have access to the courts fighting the government and powers that be in heavy law suits packed with joinders of several defendants for redress then we would have a better place. As much as our dear Speaker is justifiable in actions and has taken the right step fighting this through our courts, our decaying Judiciary should ensure that it is objective and thorough in examining legal issues and contributing to the feeble wealth of confidence that it currently attracts from the people.
Okezi Uwede-Meshack writes exclusively for BREAKING TIMES every week in the column, Game of Thrones. He can be followed on Twitter at @okezimesh
The opinions expressed by columnists in the published feature – Game of Thrones do not reflect the “OPINION and or “POLICY” of BREAKING TIMES as an online news media publishing establishment. Words on this page remain at all times, the literary expression of the writers’ creative imagination.