The last time our politics was suffused with eventful occurrences in this Fourth Republic was during former president Olusegun Obasanjo’s time when we had a gale of governorship impeachments engineered by the ruling party itself against its own.
Then, we did not have a loud as such, but a strong leader that was fully in charge and whom it is said, many of his party members dared not look in the eye. There were also intrigues over the so-called ‘Third Term’ agenda.
Umar Yar’Adua’s time was not as eventful because of his rather short tenure except that it led to the proclamation of the ‘doctrine of necessity’ by a National Assembly that surprisingly rose to the occasion and that has now resulted to a constitutional amendment that sets limits for succession of their principals by a vice president/governor
No longer at ease
Goodluck Jonathan’s era was also less eventful save for the famous defection of the five ruling party governors and lawmakers to the amalgamated opposition party, the APC in 2014. As seemingly weak as former president Jonathan was, he was still able to keep the National Assembly in check somehow as they still largely toed his and the party’s line.
In brief there had been relative stability in the National Assembly with both the executive and legislative arms of government working hand in hand and largely following same path.Now the National Assembly is sharply divided down the line, exacerbated by the recent public carpet crossings, with two distinct groups emerging, each apparently pulling in different directions.
Independent National Assembly
Now we are being told that the National Assembly is an independent body that should call its own shots and check the “excesses” of the executive in the true sense of democracy. We now have a National Assembly where its head, the Senate President, as the number three citizen of the country is not always seen with the President at public events as used to be the case and should be the norm.
A national assembly that is seemingly working at cross purposes with the executive and the party – party members opposing their own; a National Assembly which majority members neither the President nor the party’s Chairman can control.
A National Assembly that is making the President with his executive authority look like a lame duck; a National Assembly whose leader feels he is being haunted and hounded by the Presidency, believing rightly that in a presidential system as ours where the President exercises executive powers, nothing can happen without the Senate President’s knowledge and consent.
A national assembly whose leader is convinced that the executive wants to ridicule and shame him by putting him in the dock and levelling serious charges against him via its agencies; a Senate President who is supported in this view by many lawmakers and who together with his supporters is bent on wriggling himself out of the quagmire by all means, even if it means ‘dining with the devil’ so to speak.
Really testy times await the National Assembly when it resumes from its long, two months,especially as Saraki has hinted at his defection in words and deeds.
Can he still morally remain Senate President should he quit the ruling APC on which basis he ostensibly got the Seat? Both groups in the National Assembly should be strategising on how to deal with this rather anomalous situation it should happen.
Senator Adamu who heads the parliamentary group that opposes Saraki and his supporters and who is also the Senate Committee’s chairman on Agriculture and Rural Development, gave his reason for spearheading the group thus, “You are an APC man, your party has got a national mandate and you have a President and you are still working by the day, every one day against the President, Muhammadu Buhari, It is a betrayal”.
Dr. Saraki has taken umbrage to Adamu’s rather short interview with the Daily Trust, denying that he once called Senator Dino Melaye a clown as alleged. His response was laced with vituperations. His ‘outburst’ is perhaps understandable given that the carpet has literally been taken off his feet by the ruling party with the dissolution of the APC executives in his home state of Kwara, thereby boxing him in and making him to let off his emotions.
Still, Saraki should realise that as Senate President he bears more responsibility than the others, is obligated to have a rather thick skin and to exhibit decorum in his speech whether verbal or written.
In comparison Adamu’s interview which elicited Saraki’s fiery reply was relatively temperate. He did not mention the Senate President by name personally while Saraki’s was more direct. Also while Adamu’s statements were limited to the newspaper that spoke to him,Saraki distributed his reply to virtually all newspapers and online media. Now the exchange is getting hotter as Adamu has responded to Saraki’s response saying he has no case with the EFCC as his case with it terminated on June 28, 2015.
He also alleged that the Senate President plotted to take over from Mr. President when he was sick, thinking Buhari would not survive. I have tried not to repeat the offensive words used. My appeal is for both distinguished senators to spare us further personal attacks on each other.
They are leaders in their own rights. They are both former governors and former chairmen of the Governors’ Forum, Senator Adamu having been its pioneer chairman. Saraki is from a political dynasty of a sort, built by his father, Oloye Saraki.
Whereas the Senate President learnt his political skills in the comfort of his father’s political feet, Senator Adamu garnered his political experience from the murky, reality political waters dating back from the erstwhile Benue-Plateau region to the old Plateau State and now Nasarawa State, being the state’s first democratically elected Governor.
The political battles he has had to fight over these long years have fortified him and moulded him into a political strategist of no mean repute. He is an avid reader and a good student of international and world affairs with friends across geo political divides and able to speak, understand a little of some other Nigerian languages other than his native Hausa and Afor languages.
The cap fits him to restore unity in the National Assembly as its leader after this apparently chaotic Senate.
Written by Victoria Ngozi Ikeano.
Victoria Ngozi Ikeano a journalist, is a quiet, reflective person who does not run with the crowd. She can be reached via 08033077519