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.
The former lawmaker said their grievances were expressed at a meeting of 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 on the occasion, recalled that on May 29, 1999, the fourth National Assembly was inaugurated “with daunting challenges, most outstanding of which included 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 fourth 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 fifth 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 our concern with them, a situation where the impeachment of a presiding officer was regarded as democracy in action but on the other hand, impeachment of a chief executive (president) was regarded as democracy under threat and was not acceptable.
“I wish to restate the view that impeachment of any elected officer 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 fourth National Assembly was the issue of office accommodation for the members.
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 night 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 National Assembly had the power to award the contract or not. Eventually, the 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.