Cautious Optimism Trails Tottering NASS, APC
• Crisis Is Self-inflicted — Oyegun
• We Shall Overcome It, Says Momoh
WATCHERS of the fast-paced and intriguing drama in the National Assembly and in the ranks of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in recent weeks may conclude that the scenes foreshadow more crisis for the ruling party.
Having cut short at the polls script by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to rule the country for ‘the next 60 years’, the APC appeared unprepared for the serious task of putting its actors on the stage.
The fallout was last week’s shameful climax when members of the House of Representatives threw decorum to the bins, exchanging expletives and punches.
“What is happening is realpolitik and struggle for power. It is a storm in a teacup, and will soon die. It is not new at all. And I can assure you that it will not stop the APC and President Muhammadu Buhari from performing,” said Former Minister of Information and National Executive Council (NEC) member of the APC, Prince Tony Mommoh.
In an exclusive interview with The Guardian, Momoh said: “It is a normal thing that whenever the Principals of the National Assembly are to be elected, there is bound to be trouble and struggle for power and positions. Do not forget that this is a caucus matter, and every block fights to get recognition and an upper hand.
Why it is so is the type of constitution we operate, which gives the National Assembly autonomy to choose its Principal Officers.” Convinced the Buhari administration, despite power tussle in NASS, could still go ahead and deliver change, Momoh said: “The fact that the man (Buhari) has not said anything and yet the entire country is shaking…
Take a visit to ministries and parastatals and see what is going on there. Civil servants are beginning to sit tight, as the country is gradually getting lose from the tight grip of indiscipline and impunity.
It is no longer business as usual. “Take a critical look at the reason why fuel price suddenly returned to N87 without Buhari issuing any statement. Some of the oil marketers who collect government subsidies, but yet will not deliver are beginning to sit up.
Take a look at the turn around in the military settings and the type of discipline and vigour with which the officers are ready to discharge their duties in combating the Boko Haram insurgency.
I can give you my word that President Buhari will change this nation for the better.” Sounding equally optimistic, former Deputy Governor of Edo State, Rev. Peter Obadan, noted that there is no reason to fear the APC could eventually collapse.
“Husband and wife are always strange bedfellows. But after some years of coming together, they start to understand each other. They blend well so that you begin to see them as brother and sister, and you find them taking the same decision, even when they are not together. So, obviously, the parties have their weaknesses and they have their strength.
But in the process of time, we will drop those weaknesses and start developing on the strength we have,” he said. The President must show interest in what goes on in the National Assembly, said Former Secretary General of the Union of Petroleum and Gas (NUPENG), Chief Frank Kokori, who put blame for crisis in the chambers on Buhari.
He said: “I lay the blame on the leadership of the party, most especially Buhari. With the way the country was going, the opposition came together with the manifesto of change, a merger was formed and people like Tinubu and Buhari, who though people thought otherwise, started working together and we started following them.
We thought the party should be more organised and thorough with things like this. You don’t joke with your National Assembly in a presidential system, in fact, in any system.
“You can’t say Buhari should not be interested in who leads the National Assembly. I think there is a little bit of relief in him not stamping his foot down from the word go, in deciding leadership for the House, but that doesn’t mean that he shouldn’t be partisan.
How can you not be partisan when you are in authority? He is the person that has the overwhelming support and respect from every sector of the party and the nation. So, he should have given straight directives and say this is the way I want it to be done. I think we have all learnt our lessons.”
Meanwhile, APC National Chairman, Chief John Odigie Oyegun, has described the crisis as “most unnecessary and self-inflicted, something that no one would have envisaged,” stressing that the “issues now is to reunite the party and get on with our commitment to the people.”
Oyegun told The Guardian the crisis is not the result of what some have termed a marriage of strange bedfellows that formed the party. “No, I don’t think that is the issue.
It is not about any strange bedfellows. It is the battle of members for positions among contending interests and groups that we are witnessing. But this time it has been carried much too far to an unacceptable level; absolutely unacceptable,” he said. He, however, said: “We are already engaging the crisis.
But I may not be able to share openly particular steps being taken. The magnitude of the problems is different in the two chambers. We are dealing with each in terms of the deepness of the cleavages.”
“The party is not afraid of any individual. It is greater than me, or the President or any individual. The party can sanction any individual, no matter how big such person perceives himself.
There is absolutely no question about that. The party cannot be afraid of any individual. It is simple as that. It is not possible. We have a mandate and the mandate is for four years.
We are going to help our President deliver on our campaign promises. Everybody in the party is subject to the rules of the party and everybody must be ready to obey such rules,” he added.