By Inibehe Effiong
The protracted scandalous impasse and controversy over the emergence of the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives and selection of other principal officers of the current National Assembly which escalated into fisticuff on Thursday June 25, 2015 in the House of Representatives evinces that our country is yet to be freed from the clutches of evil forces and imperial elements. We are back to the trenches of national ruination orchestrated by the egregious activities and aspirations of unpatriotic racketeers whose insatiable inclinations takes precedence over the collective good of our country.
There is no moral prescription that justifies the contemptuous treatment of the APC by it renegade legislators. The argument that the party cannot dictate who should be the Leader, Deputy Leader, Chief Whip and Deputy Chief Whip of both houses is not only untenable but preposterous. Precedents shows that it is the Party Caucus of both houses that determines those that should occupy positions that are exclusively reserved for the party in the majority and minority as the case may be. If this is the case, the relevant question is: what is the decision of the majority in the APC Caucus in both the Senate and the House of Representatives? Since those who occupy these offices are invariably representing their political party, does the APC not have the right to determine, influence or at least set parameters for the emergence of those that should represent it?
Can one become a Majority Leader for instance without being in the PARTY that has the majority of members in the house? The answer is obviously in the negative. So how can anyone say that the occupation of these offices are not to be dictated based on political party consideration? What has been the practice in the past? How did Sen. Victor Ndoma Egba emerge as the Leader of the 7th Senate? Was it not the decision of the PDP leadership and the PDP Caucus in the Senate then? Was it not the insistence of the PDP that enabled the emergence of Mrs. Mulikat Akande as the Leader of the 7th House of Representatives after she had contested against Tambuwal and lost despite being the official candidate of the PDP.
It is true that Tambuwal emerged contrary to the wishes of his party at the time, principally because of the support he got from the then opposition APC. However, we need to advert our minds to the fact that that only happened because the election (voting) of a Speaker is constitutionally open to to all members of the House, irrespective of political party affiliation. However, it is on record that despite being the wish of majority of members of the then House, the then PDP federal government of Goodluck Jonathan refused to accord Aminu Tambuwal recognition after he joined the APC. His official security was withdrawn by a lawless and partisan Inspector General of Police without any supporting order of a court of competent jurisdiction declaring his seat vacant.
I therefore find the press release issued by the PDP condemning President Buhari and the APC for their insistence on party supremacy as hypocritical, insulting and baseless. It is nauseating for the PDP, the very party that destroyed this country and derailed our democratic process, to be talking about democracy when they have not yet demonstrated remorse for raping our country mindlessly for 16 years. PDP should first re – brand her terrible image before building a structure for constructive, objective and mature opposition nurtured by truth, accountability and justice.
If the present revolt against the APC is nemesis for the past support given to Tambuwal by the APC, that nemesis should have ended after the emergence of Bukola Saraki and Yakubu Dogara as Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives respectively, contrary to the wishes of their party. It is offensive to the ethos of political practice and the principles of party supremacy for Saraki and Dogara and their fellow renegade legislators to disregard the wishes of the party on whose glory and momentum they rode to power. It is unacceptable.
While it is true that the legislators have the right to determine those who should lead them in various capacities, it should be noted that they were all elected on the platform of political parties. The present constitutional regime does not accommodate independent candidacy. The responsibility of the political parties did not cease upon their election into the National Assembly. Political parties do not merely exist to enable politicians win elections and actualise their political ambitions.
The relationship between the parties and their candidates does not stop because of electoral victory. It continues and subsist throughout the currency of the elected members’ tenure. Therefore, I cannot decipher why some members of the APC in the National Assembly will totally disregard the wishes, feelings and views of the very party on whose platform they were elected in the first place. There is nothing undemocratic in the APC writing to Saraki and Dogara on those they prefer as principal officers that should represent the party in the National Assembly. More so when majority of the APC Caucus in both houses are in support of the party’s position on the matter.
Some have contended that it is undemocratic for the APC to express her preferences for the principal offices, and I ask: is there a democratic way of passing faeces? What the APC has done to my mind is basically an attempt to maintain cohesion in the party which may be endangered if the individual aspirations of the members is not checked. I am not a member of the APC, but I cannot understand why the likes of Dino Melaye who could not secure his reelection to the House of Representatives in 2011 will now be leading a revolt against the very party on whose glory he rode to victory in 2015. It is not activism but the height of ingratitude.
It is deeply saddening that the oasis of hope which herald the emergence of the Muhammadu Buhari presidency is diminishing daily with its attendant destructive effects on the polity and the nation. It is a sad commentary that the leadership and members of the ruling APC in the National Assembly have not exuded the discipline expected of them. One would have expected that the APC will deliberately obviate the reoccurrence of the blunders, cancerous modus operandi and dictatorial proclivities of the PDP which ultimately led to the PDP’s defeat in the historic 2015 presidential poll.
Beyond the crisis over the leadership of the National Assembly is a worrisome and frightening possibility; the Buhari presidency may in the final analysis be undermined and fatally derailed. If things remain the way they are in the National Assembly, I see a very challenging future for president Buhari. We cannot continue to deny the fact that some very corrupt characters supported and funded the election of Buhari and the APC. These characters cannot guarantee the security of their illicit lucre if they do not have a strong hold on the current government. They know that without access to the powers that be, they may not survive the expected onslaught against corruption in the country.
Looking at the present crisis in the National Assembly, one can see the hands of these money bags. It is also a truism that some of the current crop of lawmakers in the National Assembly are among the most vicious and corrupt people in Nigeria. For example, do we expect some former governors who looted their states to a halt and sought refuge in the Senate to just sit back and allow a decent or saner leadership to emerge in the Senate?
There is no need for prevarication, Buhari cannot fight corruption or transform the country without putting in place the required legislative framework. Certain laws will need to be enacted or amended. Actions of men are mostly actuated by the need for self – preservation. Corruption cannot fight corruption nor can the corrupt make laws against corruption.
It is this possibility that makes the “I belong to nobody” attitude of president Buhari in the circumstance unacceptable to some of us. How can our president be sitting in the presidential villa singing “I belong to nobody” when a structure is being laid to frustrate his presidency? Does Buhari think that we are still in the military era when the Head of State can just wake up in the morning and issue a Decree to accomplish his purpose?. Is the president not aware that the National Assembly, though an independent arm of government, will play a vital and even indispensable role in the attainment of his much touted change?
Now that the National Assembly leadership has merged with the PDP that was rejected by Nigerians at the polls and other anti – change elements, what becomes of president Buhari? I do not know those advising Buhari, but they are leading him to a very vulnerable future. The change that the Nigerian people voted for seems to have been hijacked by a monstrous and corrupt cabal that is determined to truncate the change, development and anti – corruption mantra of Buhari’s presidency and return our country to the era of the locusts.
The president needs to rise up to the urgency of now. By virtue of his position, Buhari is the leader of his party. The APC should immediately assert it authority and restore discipline, even if it will entail expelling some people from the party. President Barrack Obama wouldn’t have succeeded in having the historic medical care for all legislation (Obamacare) passed by the American Congress if the Democrats in Congress were not strongly on his side during the heated debates on the law.
That Buhari is sleeping comfortably while the very party that brought him to power is being destroyed is not a sign of responsible leadership. If this is naivety, then it is the worse type of it. Belonging to nobody does not mean committing political suicide.
The time to act is now.
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