By Dr. Wumi Akintide,
President Buhari‘s insistence that he was not going to interfere on the affairs of the Parliament is a major gaffe any way you slice it. The Parliament, as stipulated in the Nigerian Constitution, would determine whether or not his change agenda would fail or succeed in Nigeria. As a Political Science major with a deep passion for politics, I can tell you that.
The PDP began to irredeemably fall apart the day their own Speaker of the House, Tambuwal began to show more loyalty and favoritism for the opposition party, and there was nothing the PDP could do to bring him to order before the situation got out of control. Only in Nigeria is that kind of disloyalty tolerated in a party official. It is true that the Speaker of the House must be neutral in his dealings with members as much as humanly possible, but the ‘river that forgets its source or origin’ as reminded us by Elemure Ogunyemi, the Ekiti country music idol, is bound to dry up sooner than later.
Tambuwal got away with his disloyalty because he figured out that he could only be removed as Speaker by a majority of members in his Chamber, and nobody else, as stipulated by the obnoxious Nigerian Constitution. Unwritten ‘laws of decency’ should have required the Speaker to do the right thing without being told, but because politics in Nigeria is all about self rather than the ultimate interest of the Nation and the institution, Tambuwal got away with his perfidy. Not only that, he went on to be called a hero and a consummate politician in a country where corruption has become a virtue and a way of life.
Everybody in the PDP knew he was to all intent and purposes an APC member, but the PDP and President Jonathan were in total denial. Tambuwal kept that advantage until the very last moment when he publicly admitted he was going to be the APC Governorship candidate in Sokoto since he could not run for President. He won the governorship election by a landslide. That could only mean he had been rooting for the APC long before he made it official.
Even though Goodluck Jonathan tried to shake Tambuwal up by using the Inspector General of Police, Abubakar Abba by withdrawing his security details and the official cars and drivers assigned to him as Speaker. Tambuwal went to Court to challenge the move and won on legal technicalities. The PDP went into the last elections totally embarrassed and humiliated by their own Speaker, legislators like Bukola Saraki and Governors like Kwankwanso and Amaechi who openly decamped into the opposition APC. In his own case, Tambuwal only stopped short of openly crossing carpet into the APC. He was widely known to have been holding nocturnal meetings with the APC Caucus while still claiming allegiance to the PDP.
The House of Assembly in Abuja under the PDP was a House of Commotion, Intrigues, Horse-trading and Bribery if you get my point. Even though Nigerians massively voted for change on March 28 and April 11, I can assure you that nothing has changed and nothing is going to change in Nigeria for two important reasons.
First, neither of the two major political parties in Nigeria today have any verifiable ideology that explains their value system and political leanings. Neither of them operates the kind of party supremacy that is so critical in every Democracy. Once the Party takes a decision, no member, however powerful or rich can change it, whether on the floor of the Parliament or anywhere else in Nigeria
The Action Group under Obafemi Awolowo became the powerhouse that made the Western Region the pace setter in Nigeria among its peers like the NPC and the NCNC. Rich individuals like Pa Alfred Rewani, late Pa Ajao and Pa Shonibare of Lagos were moneybags in the same Action Group, but they all had to abide by what the Party says. Even Awolowo, arguably the most conscientious politician and strategist among our leaders, knew he could not achieve anything as party leader without party discipline and supremacy.
Awolowo initially wanted to make free education in the Old Western region both ‘universal’ and ‘compulsory’ but the party settled for universal only. Awolowo had no other choice because the party was supreme. If Awolowo, the party leader, could do that, no other member could challenge the party and remain in the Action Group. Awolowo was that strict. It was not like the “animal farm” of today where a deserter from the PDP like Bukola Saraki would not take no for an answer because he is hell bent on becoming Senate President to gain immunity from public prosecution for atrocities he committed with “Societe-Generale Bank“ a public institution he plundered.
I don’t blame the APC for accepting “leprous” Saraki into their fold. The APC was like a drowning man that would cling to a snake at the time it accepted Saraki, and the gamble paid off big time in Kwara State, if not the whole of Nigeria. They must now deal with and tame the monster or suffer the same fate as the PDP suffered in Kwara. Saraki is a true son of his father. He is in politics not to help humanity but to laugh all the way to the Bank for his own benefit. As Saraki has become Senate President, forget it. That is the end of Buhari’s anti-corruption agenda.
I have cited the above examples to show that neither the PDP, nor the APC that dethroned the PDP for the first time in more than 55 years in Nigeria has anything other than selfish interest at heart. It is a complete outrage that Bukola Saraki, who destroyed the PDP for his own selfish gain is attempting the same thing in the APC. Saraki is just like his twin brother in crime, Ayo Fayose, the current Governor of Ekiti. He is the Judas Iscariot of Nigerian Politics.
Ayo Fayose, the outlaw Governor has got away with murder in Nigeria, so to speak, because Goodluck Jonathan’s policy was to join the rotten eggs of Nigerian Politics rather than beat them. Fayose openly encouraged the PDP members in the new Senate and the House of Representatives to muddy the waters for the APC and cause confusion by voting en masse for Sola Saraki as Senate President.
He has the effrontery to do that because, under the Jonathan government, he completely outmaneuvered the 19 APC legislators he drove out of Ekiti so that the 7 PDP legislators could continue to do as they liked with him as the overall boss. One would have expected the new APC Government to have paid more attention to Fayose and what he was doing in Ekiti prior to the APC’s victory in the last election. The APC dropped the ball on Fayose, who took advantage of the APC’s silence and ineptitude to wait out the 19 legislators till June 6th when his new set of PDP legislators took over the Ekiti House of Assembly.
I have completely lost confidence in the APC and President Buhari for being so sluggish and slow at doing what was expected of them. I could not understand the strategy of the APC to put Ayo Fayose on notice that his antics in Ekiti would no longer be tolerated by Buhari. They were supposed to hit the ground running, but grew so careless that Ayo Fayose treated them like amateurs in Politics. The man beat the APC arms down in Ekiti, if the truth must be told. He definitely put “Okaraba Baba Edi“ on the APC and juggernauts like Ahmed Tinubu. The wizardry of Ahmed Tinubu has been rubbished by Ayo Fayose.
I agree that it is true that there are more urgent problems to tackle than facing Ayo Fayose, but I condemn the APC, President Buhari and Vice-President Osinbajo for completely taking their eye off the ball in reference to Ayo Fayose and the ugly developments in Ekiti.
I am also amazed, if not totally shocked, that one week after Buhari’s inauguration he still has not found the time to issue a statement on the 60 Nigerian officers and soldiers awaiting execution for not fighting Boko Haram with their “bare hands”. Boko Haram was fighting Nigeria with tanks, armored vehicles, AK-47 rifles and other deadly improvised bombs like what Biafrans call “Ugbunigwe” during the 1967 to 1970 civil war. These soldiers were expected to face this people with prayer and fasting. That is just wicked.
It is unconscionable that Buhari, a retired 4-star General has not seen the need to issue a statement on the fate of those brave soldiers within a week of his inauguration. The cowardly Chief of Defense Staff and the other heads of the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force who worked with Goodluck Jonathan are still there, enjoying their loot from Jonathan. Buhari looks insane to me right now to keep quiet and not say a word. Many, if not all, of those officers should have been let go immediately.
It also beats my imagination that the same Buhari, up till now, has not said a word on the fate of Captain Sagir Koli, who blew the whistle on the covert operations that helped Fayose rig the election in Ekiti on June 21. Brigadier-General Aliyu Momoh, the commanding officer of the operation is still in the Military, while Sagir Koli has had to runaway from Nigeria to avoid assassination or victimization by his commanding officer. Yet, Buhari still wants Nigeria to believe he is the Messiah, coming to save Nigeria. If you believe that crap, I have an island to sell to you in the Pacific. Time is of the essence. Buhari is damaging himself irredeemably in the court of public opinion for all of the above.
I was one of the strongest supporters of General Buhari during the election and I still support him, but disillusionment has set in for many of his supporters across Nigeria and for me. I am not so sure any more from what he has done in his first two weeks in office. I am more worried today about his silence than anything else. I know there is a limit to how much he could have done in 2 weeks but he should at least have issued some statements to assure Nigerians that he is not totally lost or overwhelmed by the sheer enormity of the problems he has to confront.
I suggested to him more than a year ago, that he needed to set up a Rapid Response Team to draw attention to many of these lapses, since he was not avid reader of briefs sent to him. He should have had somebody looking into social media to compile information and advice he needs. The Sahara Reporters of New York is a major resource that he cannot afford to ignore. If he is in any doubt, he should talk to his friend, Pastor Tunde Bakare, who visits the website every day before breakfast. Buhari is losing momentum and I deeply regret that.
Buhari has told us enough about Nigerian problems. What Nigerians want to hear now are his solutions to these problems. I am not talking of solutions that would require the involvement of the Senate or the House of Representative or the Judiciary. I am talking of solutions that he is able to do with executive orders. He should make himself and his Vice President a shining example of the change he wants to see in Nigeria just like El Rufai and his Deputy Governor have done in Kaduna State. They both declared in their inaugural address that they would both accept a 50 percent salary cut until further notice.
That Buhari is yet to name a single member of his cabinet and principal officers close to 2 weeks after inauguration is proof that the man is not ready for prime time. I am saying it out loud because I want the man to succeed. I can tell you right now that what Buhari has promised to do in Nigeria cannot be achieved with the level of sloppiness and lethargy he has shown in his first two weeks in office.
He offered Nigerians a sartorial list of the problems he wants to tackle but he has not articulated the ends, the ways and the means for solving those problems with any comprehensive strategy. What he is trying to do cannot be done with his current level of commitment and drive. It is sad to say but it is the truth.
I fully understand that Buhari is trying to convince his critics he is no longer the maximum dictator he used to be as a military ruler but he is doing it the wrong way by looking weak and incompetent. By openly telling Nigerian he would not interfere in what is going on in the Parliament, he became spineless.
I would not be complaining this much if I saw some convincing evidence he really wants to strengthen the supremacy of the APC. I see no evidence of a guiding ideology that should influence all of Buhari’s decisions. I see none of that and I think the observation should be of concern to all Nigerians like me who voted for change on March 28 and April 11.
The APC won 59 seats in the Senate and the PDP won 49 in the new Parliament. The APC won 213 out of the 360 seats in the House of Representatives leaving the remaining 147 to the PDP, the APGA and the other parties in Nigeria. If you compare that margin of victory with what normally obtains in stable Democracies like the United States, Britain and the State of Israel, you will all see that the APC has a majority that is comfortable enough to be able to effectively and successfully govern Nigeria. What if the margin of victory for the APC was much smaller? The APC has no excuse to give right now. If it fails it will have nobody but itself to blame.
I don’t care about the horse-trading currently going on in the Parliament. The bottom line is that the legislators sponsored by the majority party must be seen to have won. That it did not happen is a bad omen for Nigeria’s nascent Democracy under the APC.
I don’t care how the APC and Buhari do it, the duo of Saraki and Ekweremadu as Senate President and Deputy President is as a major humiliation and defeat for the APC, and more so for Buhari and Osinbajo, and a bad omen for the interest and future of Nigeria.
I rest my case.