CNNInternational interviewwith President Olusegun ObasanjoandUSAfricaonline.com Founder Chido Nwangwu on democracy, securityissues and impeachmenttangle

Good riddance to a loose cannon called SenatorFrancis Arthur Nzeribe!

By DOZIE IKEM EZEIFE

 Special for USAfrica The Newspaper, Houston
USAfricaonline.comand NigeriaCentral.com

"Basket mouth don bigin to talk again", apologies to the lateAfrobeat music legend Fela Anikulapo Kuti.  


The suspension of Senator Nzeribe bodes well for theSenate.  It has proven that politics is not a circus show andthat our leaders are not performing bears in a ring put in politicalpositions merely to entertain the press and the public. When Senator Jonathan Zwingina (an ally of Nzeribe's foe andSenate President Anyim Pius Anyim) moved his motion to suspendSenator Nzeribe, all 68 Senators present votedin favor.  So much for Nzeribe's fictional supporters in theSenate.  The so-called "political strongman" of Orlu (Imo State,and recent ally of Obasanjo's troubled presidency) in the final hourdid not even have the guts and decency to stay in the chambers to seeand deal with his political reckoning and peer discipline.  Whata spineless coward.  I am often amused by these self-proclaimedpolitical heavyweights, who when the chips are down prove to have thepolitical savvy and experience of a president of a high schooldebating society. Only a mental retard will go to the floor of theSenate with no single supporter on a day he plans to sponsor a motionto defeat the impeachment of the President.  Only in Nigeria canthat madness take place.  Only a half-wit like Senator Nzeribewill pull a stunt like that.  And the man has the temerity toregard himself as politically relevant in Nigeria.  What anair-head! By suspending Senator Nzeribe, the Nigerian Senate hasmanaged to rid itself of a destructive cancer that was wrecking havocon its reputation. Nzeribe was a ticking time bomb and hissuspension and hopefully, his recall by his constituency, will send amessage to the rest of the political clowns out there who think thatthey can play games with Nigeria and Nigerians, that the time ofreckoning is at hand.

Francis Arthur Nzeribe, Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeriarepresenting Orlu (Imo State), covets being called a maverick andprides himself as an astute politician and a relevant Nigerian. Also, he has been variously described as controversial, a loosecannon and a double-edged sword.  He Recently the bubble burstand the coward showed his true stripes.  By taking on hiscolleagues in the Senate, he bit more than he could chew.  Heapparently decided to bail out of a jet at 35,000 feet above theearth without first arming himself with a parachute.  The resultof that senseless folly obviously was sure political demise.

 The "maverick" cut his political teeth in 1979 when hebulldozed himself into political limelight by "donating" a decrepitjet to the Owelle of Onitsha for his presidential campaign.  Theplane reportedly made only one flight before it was scrapped. That stunt earned him a senate seat in the Second Republic andcatapulted him into political prominence.  He circulated therumor that he had inexhaustible cache of foreign currency andgullible Nigerians lapped up that con.  The con man found apedestal from which to fleece the nation.  During his entirestint as an NPP senator, the party caucus could not predict which waythe erratic senator would vote.  Nobody had the guts to rein himin.  He delighted in reeking political havoc and pulled allmanners of stunts at the drop of a hat.

Following the Buhari/Idiagbon coup of 1983, the maverick fadedinto temporary oblivion from which he will emerge in 1992.  In1992 he colluded with the military establishment to scuttle thedemocratic exercise and consequently denied Chief MKO Abiola hismandate.  It is sickening to hear him claim credit for thisperfidious act.  What a guy! 

Soon after he took on another client.  He became late GeneralAbacha's choirboy.  Upon the inception of the Abubakartransition program in 1998, he joined the APP and eventually emergedas the Senator representing the Orlu Senatorial District of ImoState.  True to type, within a few months of coming to theSenate, he attempted to move an impeachment motion against thePresident.  His colleagues rebuffed him. 

Following the depletion of the leadership ranks of the PDPSoutheast caucus in the Senate by the Presidency, Senator Nzeribe sawa silver lining in the horizon and decided to jump ship in order toimprove his chances of someday becoming the Senate President. The man has the morals of an ant.  Soon after abandoning hisparty for the ruling PDP, he dusted off his choir gown and went towork for President Obasanjo, the man he attempted to impeach a fewmonths back.  He derided the call for a President of Igboextraction in 2003 and vowed that Obasanjo will win again in2003.  He was a prominent fixture at the jamboree in Ottah inApril of last year and the subsequent charade in Abuja.

Senator Nzeribe's appetite for corruption is gargantuan.  Hehas proven time and time again that he is an unrepentantopportunist.  No price is too high for him to pay in order toscore a quick buck or to attract cheap publicity.  Hisselfishness is celebrated and his capacity for doublespeakunparalleled.  The man is completely without conscience orcompulsion.  He will do or say virtually anything so as toappear politically relevant.  Nzeribe through his nefariousactivities and unguarded utterances have wrecked havoc on thereputation of the Senate and had made the Senate the butt of uglyjokes.  Joseph Ushigiale in his "End of the Road for Mr.Maverick?" published in This Day of October 10, 2002, very succinctlyarticulated the character of and person Senator Nzeribe is in thefollowing words:

 "Nzeribe established a reputation as an enigmatic politicianwho thrives in stewing from one political and intriguing controversyto another... Nzeribe introduced what many today described as moneypolitics because of his monetized campaign approaches... Nzeribe hasattracted the toga of a politician who revels in endless webs ofintrigues and schemings and is largely viewed as very veryinconsistent and unreliable... Nzeribe has carved a niche for himselfwithin political circles as a highly ambitious and insatiably greedypolitician with scant regard for decorum.  He is believed to bemotivated by the craze to make money than the conviction to sustaindemocracy and is described as capable of reaching whatever length tomake money."

For several weeks Senator Nzeribe has boasted that he willspearhead the filibuster of the impeachment moves against PresidentObasanjo in the Senate.  He also told whosoever cared to listenthat he has the necessary votes in the Senate to dethrone SenatePresident, Pius Anyim.  He emphatically announced that he wouldmake the Senate drop the impeachment exercise this past week. He claimed he had 74 senators on board for this project. 

Typical of the Nigerian press, nobody sought from him the names ofthese phantom 74.  What pipe dream it turned out to be. When it was time for a showdown, it turned out he had zip!  Hiswar chants wet our appetites and we eagerly awaited an epochalpolitical showdown on the floor of the senate.  What we saw wasa political spanking by the Senate inflicted on the wimpyurchin.  Instead of a manly firefight, the noise bag tucked hisfrazzled tails between his spidery legs and scurried out of thesenate chambers and hid inside his senate cubicle.  What adespicable exhibition of cowardice. 

When Senator Jonathan Zwingina moved his motion to suspend SenatorNzeribe, all 68 Senators present voted in favor.  So much forhis fictional supporters in the Senate.  The "politicalstrongman" in the final hour did not even have the guts and decencyto stay in the chambers to see and deal with his reckoning and peerdiscipline.  What a spineless coward.  I am often amused bythese self-proclaimed political heavyweights, who when the chips aredown prove to have the political savvy and experience of a presidentof a high school debating society. Only a mental retard will go tothe floor of the Senate with no single supporter on a day he plans tosponsor a motion to defeat the impeachment of the President. Only in Nigeria can that madness take place.  Only a half-witlike Senator Nzeribe will pull a stunt like that.  And the manhas the temerity to regard himself as politically relevant inNigeria.  What an air-head.  The suspension of SenatorNzeribe bodes well for the Senate.  It has proven that politicsis not a circus show and that our leaders are not performing bears ina ring put in political positions merely to entertain the press andthe public. 

Rabiu Ibrahim in his "Insight Nzeribe: A Maverick's Meltdown"published in the Weekly Trust of October 25, 2002 surmised Nzeribe'sdisappointing performance on the senate floor on the day ofreckoning.  He said: "Nevertheless, this particular day wassupposed to be his day of glory, when by his deft or daftcalculation, he would lead a majority of the members of the senate tofirst proclaim distaste to impeachment proceedings of PresidentObasanjo.  And secondly, turn the game on the Senate Presidentby roundly voting to impeach him.  The culmination would havebeen the anointing of his very self, seen as gadfly of Nigerianpolitics, as the new and third Senate President in the spate of fouryears.  It was not to be.  The day could well be describedas his waterloo, as his colleagues clamped an indefinite suspensionon him until he purges himself of 'anti-democratic and disreputableconduct."

 Arthur Nzeribe made a career of shooting down fellow Igbomen and women and working against the interest of Ndigbo.  Likethe old lady in Osita Osadebe's "Agadi nwanyi na inine", SenatorNzeribe is currently battling running stomach.  I shudder tothink that some people rank Arthur Nzeribe as one of the Igbopolitical leaders. 

Evidently we have so lowered our ethical, moral and intelligencescales as to allow such a decrepit clown to scale through. Nzeribe's demise and the number of Senators who nailed shut hispolitical coffin is an indication to those who believe that theSenate cannot muster enough support to impeach the President, thattheir optimism is rather misplaced.

By suspending Senator Nzeribe, the Nigerian Senate has managed torid itself of a destructive cancer that was wrecking havoc on itsreputation.  Nzeribe was a ticking time bomb and his suspensionand hopefully, his recall by his constituency, will send a message tothe rest of the political clowns out there who think that they canplay games with Nigeria and Nigerians, that the time of reckoning isat hand. 

Senator Jonathan Zwingina in moving his motion for Nzeribe'ssuspension said that Nzeribe has by his "consistent and unchanginganti-democratic character has become a chronic, active cancerous cellin the senate and in our democratic polity."  I agree.  Nowthat "Basket mouth" has been put in this place the National Assemblyshould hasten to make a decision whether or not to proceed withObasanjo's impeachment.  They should do so immediately.
Attorney Ezeife,contributing editor of USAfricaonline.com and USAfrica TheNewspaper, is based in Oakland, California. He plans a series on the2003 elections on USAfricaonline.com and NigeriaCentral.com


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