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Alleged Threat to Impeach Buhari: Anenih Tasks Makarfi to Dissuade PDP National Assembly Caucus

Former Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Tony Anenih, has warned the party against attempting to impeach President Muhammadu Buhari

In a July 15 letter to a factional chairman of the party’s National Caretaker Committee, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, he said the time was neither right nor the reasons compelling enough to contemplate the “ill-advised adventure” of presidential impeachment.

Anenih, who is widely known as “Mr. Fix-It” for his ability to manipulate people and processes, cited his “love for our great country and my long years of involvement in the pursuit of peace, co-existence, and national development,” as his motive for his intervention.  

He urged Makarfi to personally lead the process of consultation with PDP members in the National Assembly, with a view to getting them to play a patriotic, rather than partisan role, during this time of national economic and social uncertainty. 

“I feel even more disturbed that the PDP Caucus is being rumoured to be actively involved in this plan to “go for the jugular” of the Executive,” he wrote, noting that while the National Assembly may have its grouse against the President, the options of consultation, dialogue and negotiation have not yet been exhausted.

“We should all assist in persuading our members to persevere in the pursuit of these options,” the former Minister of Works and Housing wrote.   

Playing an unaccustomed role, he argued that an attempt at impeachment, at this time, is not in the best interests of the party, or the country.

“Such a move will create tension, instability and even crisis in our body-politic,” Anenih said, apparently believing the PDP can remove a sitting president in a legislature it does not control.  “It will unleash all those fissiparous forces which, in the last few months, have begun to gain momentum.” 

He said that as the main opposition party, the PDP should now concern itself with an inward review of “why Nigerians lost faith in us and our party’s vision for Nigeria,” and how we can once again regain this trust. 

Calling for constructive criticism of the ruling party when it goes wrong, he described playing an active role in the internal power struggles between factions of the ruling party as an unnecessary distraction, and an exercise that appears to promote personal agenda rather than the national interest.

“I am not unaware that the times are hard; that Nigerians are groaning under the weight of unpaid salaries and astronomical increases in the cost of living, that ballooning security problems are increasingly threatening to rip apart the fabric of our national existence, and that Nigerians feel more divided today than they have ever felt, but it would be unfair to blame this President or this Government for all of these problems. Instructively, none of these problems was floated as justification for the threat of impeachment by the National Assembly.”

Turning to the economy, he said it was well known that all oil-producing countries are suffering from an economic down-turn because of the radical drop in the price of crude oil.

“As a mono-product economy, dependent on crude oil, there is no magic bubble that could have insulated us completely from the systemic shocks caused by the attendant loss of revenue.”  

To that end, he said that rather than seek scapegoats, the situation demands that all our institutions, political parties, and leaders set aside all partisan interests, and work together to wade through these difficult times. 

“It is, therefore, my wish and prayer that you, personally, lead the process of consultation with our members in the National Assembly, with a view to getting them to play a patriotic, rather than partisan role, at this time of national economic and social uncertainty,” he urged Mr. Makarfi.

Anenih served as Minister of Works during President Olusegun Obasanjo’s first term, during which about N300 billion was voted for roads that were never constructed.  A challenge to that effect was issued by Orji Kalu Uzor a former governor of Abia State, who insisted that the president asks the Minister to say what he did with the money. 

In later years, Anenih would emerge not only Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the party but also of the Nigerian Ports Authority and a major force behind President Goodluck Jonathan. 

Political analysts believe he is a key factor in the PDP corruption story, and its eventual collapse.