A former President of the Senate and ex-Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Pius Anyim, has said members of the National Assembly were aggrieved with former President Olusegun Obasanjo, the reason why they wanted to impeach him.
Anyim said the lawmakers were aggrieved that several presiding officers were removed under Obasanjo’s administration but were blackmailed from impeaching the President, ThePUNCH reports.
The former lawmaker said their grievances were expressed at a meeting by the Council of State, confirming the comment recently made by a former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, that pleas were made to the National Assembly not to impeach Obasanjo.
Anyim spoke in Abuja on Monday at the second public lecture organised by National Assembly Legislative Digest, with the theme, ’20 Years of the National Assembly in the Fourth Republic: The Tasks Ahead of the Ninth National Assembly.’
The former SGF, who was chairman of the occasion, recalled that on May 29, 1999, the 4th National Assembly was inaugurated “with daunting challenges, most outstanding of which include Executive/Legislature tango on the selection of the leadership of the National Assembly.”
He said, “In quick succession, this challenge delivered three Presidents of the Senate in the 4th Senate, the last of whom is my humble self. I had to struggle to the very end, to hold on to the seat of the Senate President and administer the office to the best of my ability. At about the same period, there was also a change of Speaker in the House of Representatives, though in circumstances not similar and not as controversial as those of the Senate.
“The 5th Senate also witnessed a change of a presiding officer. I recently read a report in the media crediting Gen. Yakubu Gowon as stating how the body of former Heads of State persuaded the then leadership of the National Assembly not to impeach President Obasanjo.
“During our meeting with the former Heads of State, we shared one concern with them, i.e. that a situation where the impeachment of a presiding officer is regarded as democracy in action and, on the other hand, impeachment of a chief executive (president) is regarded as democracy under threat, was not acceptable.
“I wish to restate our view that impeachment of any elected official in any arm of government, especially when it is contrived, is unhealthy for our democratic progress. Accordingly, I urge both arms of government to strive to avoid impeachment for whatever reason.”
Anyim said the second challenge that confronted the 4th Nation Assembly was the issue of office accommodation for the members of the National Assembly.
He said, “We took up this challenge head-on. Whenever I visit the National Assembly today, particularly members in their offices, I feel that the sleepless nights we spent with the Julius Berger design team to finalise the design and size of the office complex was justified.
“I sincerely use this opportunity to thank the executive for their understanding and support, despite the disagreement on whether the National Assembly had the power to award the contract or not. Eventually, FCTA, which awarded the contract, has delivered on the job.”
The former SGF also gave credit to the Fourth National Assembly for leading the fight against corruption in the country, with the establishment of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission.
“I am happy to state, finally, that all of us in the 4th NASS are proud to say that we cheerfully gave life to the fight against corruption. The ICPC Act was the first Act we passed and the EFCC Act was our last Act.
Both are designed for the lawful, institutional fight against corruption and abuse of office by elected officials and public servants,” he said.