The events of Wednesday, June 9th when a faction of the National Assembly made up mainly of all PDP members connived with a handful of rebellious APC members ‘elected’ Bukola Saraki as President of the Senate and one of their own, Ike Ekweremadu as Deputy Senate President should inform all of us that there is still an unfinished business to totally undo the atrocious brigandage the PDP employed to demolish Nigeria in sixteen years of irresponsible leadership. The PDP henchmen which were fully in concert, as this coup happened, were seen back slapping themselves for a job well done, they rubbed the whole thing in by appointing the former Senate President, David Mark as Senate Leader! I am not opining on the illegality or legality of that action, as lawyers will have enough space marshalling these out. I am rather wondering what really was going on in the minds of the PDP senators, their governors and party henchmen as they perpetrated that coup. So they think, APC will thank them and go back to sleep or they were deliberately scripting the texts of what should be a tumultuous relationship between the legislature and the executive and the party in the coming dispensation?
Get me right, if the PDP successfully elected their ilk or their members in a fully and dully constituted Senate, as leaders of the legislature, there is nothing wrong with it. If they outwitted the majority APC in a contest of who becomes the Senate President as well as other offices or even majority leader, there is nothing wrong with it so long as it is with the acquiescence of the members of APC. This is why I don’t frown much on what happened in the National Assembly, except my feeling that the party must crack down hard on the kind of treachery that produced both results. it is foolhardy for those that were throwing party on the floor of the senate and congratulating and recongratulating themselves for that legislative coup to think they will walk away with the proceeds of robbery, as that is what the so-called election of Saraki, Ekweremadu and Mark amounts to. So are these expecting the leadership and members of the APC to congratulate them for a job well done and then go to sleep? Do they expect the leadership of the APC to sulk away and allow them their booty? That is taking self foolery to an all time high and the PDP and its cahoots will find out very soon that they have rejoiced rather prematurely. Unlike Tambuwal, they have given the APC a malleable leadership that is far different from the self assertive leadership Tambuwal provided.
The APC has issued a terse statement rejecting what happened on the floor of the senate on Wednesday and that sufficiently describes the tone of what to expect in the coming days. What will happen will only lead to one route; weakening the National Assembly and granting the executive enough room to enforce its wishes and we shall see how this pans out. I even see an asphyxiation of the National assembly and this will in the long run, hit back on the PDP that is reveling today of its fortunes. The APC must go farther and strike the iron while it is hot. At this stage, the party needs to come out hard to enforce party discipline and it is on very good stead to do this. This is a privilege the PDP never had during the Tambuwal case so the APC must not shirk away from rightly punishing those that tagged along a party that was just rejected by Nigerians, whose members in the National Assembly widely enjoy dubious commission, to rubbish the APC. For whatever it is worth, the APC has the capacity to do these and this is where Saraki and PDP’s Pyrrhic victory will end. With 51 members rightly feeling the Senate leadership is not theirs, it is certain that the Senate under Saraki will be a lame duck, ditto for the House of Representatives under Dogara.
For some who have tried to compare the happenings with what happened when Tambuwal was elected Speaker, they clearly miss the point. Tambuwal emerged Speaker against a weakening and drooping PDP facing mass angst and discontent while APC is just coming to power, blazing a high moral ground that finds expression in the impeccable integrity of its President, Muhammadu Buhari. Again, Tambuwal was backed by tight, powerful blocks while Saraki is hewn by a loose coalition of a disappearing political cabal that sees his emergence as ways of reaching back at its conquistadors, no matter the bareness of the payback.
Again, Tambuwal faced a party leadership in decay while Saraki has a behemoth to face in his bid to remain as Senate President. Is there any possibility of a Bukola Saraki mobilizing enough guts and force to question the conduct of a Buhari government? I don’t think so, rather, I see a Saraki and Dogara that will exert themselves to the fullest trying to assuage the angst of the APC leadership. It is not possible for a Saraki to stand toe to toe against a livid APC and he cannot wield any coalition that will give him such impetus in an emerging Nigeria. That is a fact so both Saraki and Dogara will be lame ducks, malleable to the fancies and prone to the rages of the APC as long as they warm the leadership of the National Assembly. So to me, the party should, for now, rein in its rightful anger and let them be with strong reprimand and watch to clamp down when the time is right-and it will be very soon. They are mere dummies that will not give the PDP any known leverage, either in building the party or opposing the policies of the APC, as the PDP felt Tambuwal did. But APC must retrieve the looted Deputy Senate President and Senate Leader from both Ekweremadu and Mark.
Yes, what happened in the House of Representative had a semblance of democratic credulity but what happened in the Senate is a sham. Irrespective of their credibility, legality or otherwise, the party has its own unquestionable rights to enforce discipline and order. It must wield this and fast too. The party should forget the fear of fictionalization; it won’t fly, by any reason. The party should not be afraid of schism because it has quite a lot going for it to forestall such division. It will be better the party operates with the mindset that the National Assembly is PDP by default. That will grant it so much leverage draw the battle line now and to rein in recalcitrant saboteurs who might latch in on the Saraki and Dogara template to gain advantage at the expense of the party. As it is now, PDP is that ‘he that is down needs fear no fall’ moss that feels it gathers no moss pouring sand in APC’s garri. It must not be allowed this fun, as I believe it will gain practically nothing from the National Assembly scheme.
Above all, the party must not shy away to put its bullish political cloak. The president, as good as his decision to stay aloof of the happenings in the National Assembly is, must not shy away from the fact that he is a leader of the party and must assume that role to enhance party cohesion and see to the free sail of his policies. He is a politician and his interests must be well captured in the affairs of the party and the larger Nigerian polity. He must take charge of party and polity for these are within his mandate. He must state where his interests lie and see them enforced or else he will be led to the paths of failure by those who still sulk over his emergence. The consequence of being aloof in issues like the National Assembly election issue is that he will have his government embarrassed by grudging mandarins in PDP who are plotting ways to access power again after the horrendous experiences of the past sixteen years and that is a transcript of failure. While their revolt is ‘constitutional,’ the power to discipline them is also constitutional and in this lays the panacea to such other ugly developments in the life of his administration.
Peter Claver Oparah
firstname.lastname@example.org wrote in from Lagos. [myad]