Nigeria’s main opposition calls for President’s impeachment

Nigeria’s main opposition party called for the impeachment of President Muhammadu Buhari over “various constitutional” breaches and for some ministers to resign because of the worsening economic situation in Africa’s biggest oil producer.

Parliament should impeach the 73-year-old president after the irregular presentation of the 2016 budget, with two versions sent to lawmakers, Uche Secondus, the acting chairman of the People’s Democratic Party, said in an e-mailed statement on Thursday after a meeting of the party’s national working committee. Minister of Finance Kemi Adeosun, Udo Udoma, the minister of budget and national planning, and central bank Governor Godwin Emefiele should resign, Secondus said.

The ministers should step down for “having failed to provide the much needed capacity in the management of the nation’s economy,” Secondus said. The central bank governor should quit “for plunging the country’s currency policy into chaos, an action that has thrown investors into total confusion,” he said.

Buhari and his All Progressives Congress took office at the end of May, ending 16 years of PDP rule following his decisive election victory over the incumbent Goodluck Jonathan. Under Jonathan, the naira plunged to a record low in February last year amid plunging oil prices before the central bank stepped in with further curbs to stop speculation against the currency and keep it all but fixed against the dollar since March.

The measures have been blamed for drying up dollar supplies, making it hard for businesses to operate and driving the naira to record levels in the black market. Nigeria’s economy, reliant on oil for 90 percent of export earnings and two-thirds of government revenue, was set to grow 3.2 percent last year, according to a Bloomberg survey of economists. That would be the slowest pace this century.

The impeachment call by the opposition is “wishful thinking,” Olusegun Sotola, head of research at the Lagos-based Initiative for Public Policy Analysis, said by phone Friday.

“There’s nothing that will come of it,” he said. “Calling for an impeachment based on the budget, they are just trying to make a mountain out of a molehill.”

Buhari took five months to inaugurate his cabinet, which he attributed to the time it took to vet candidates for their suitability to help root out corruption. Critics say the lag fueled uncertainty in an economy reeling from a drop in Brent crude prices to below $35 a barrel.

The PDP’s main spokesman, Olisa Metuh, was arrested 10 days ago as part of a corruption probe by the government. His detention is “in clear breach of his fundamental human rights,” Secondus said.

Garba Shehu, a spokesman for Buhari, said by phone he could not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday and would call back later.

 – Bloomberg