Saraki: Wind of change, era of surprises
THE decision by the All Progressives Congress (APC) to accept the controversial election of Senator Bukola Saraki as President of the Senate is a step in the right direction. This is to assuage a thorny issue that could tear the APC apart before ever it governs Nigeria.
APC is a coalition of three biggest opposition parties in Nigeria, namely: Action Congress of Nigeria (CAN), Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and a faction of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
Joined to these were some dissenters from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Coalition partners, from experience, always leave the door through which they entered open so that they could simply work out through the same door should they fail to realize the objective for joining the coalition in the first place.
The APC should always have this at the back of its mind and avoid a situation where its historic 2015 election victory would be a mirage. The APC should not leave the arduous task ahead and begin to squabble within its ranks.
There is an ugly historical trend that has been the lot of this country: Nigerians have always moved from one bad government to the worse each time there is a change in government. Usually, the expectation is high at the beginning. But alas, nothing changes at the end. That is what brought Nigeria to this sorry state.
The APC should guard against this national malady. Whatever intrigues, shenanigans or call it high wire horse trading and betrayal that threw up Senator Bukola Saraki as Senate President should be seen as part of the wind of change in an era of surprises.
PDP losing the last election was a big surprise. There will be more surprises in the unfolding political drama. So far, APC has weathered the storms and should not relent.
As for the election of Senator Ike Ekweremadu of the PDP, who is not a party in the coalition from any angle, again, is akin to the Igbo proverb whereby a tsetse fly perches on the scrotum.
If you leave it, it will tear the scrotum; if you hit it, you burst the scrotum. Either way is dangerous. Is there no way APC could negotiate with the PDP for a political solution? Again, that is change – something that has not happened before.
The National Chairman of APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, last Friday, reportedly gave backing to Saraki, declaring that his election was legitimate. Odigie-Oyegun said the election is one of the challenges the party had to face, adding that it would wriggle out of it and the party has accepted him as the Senate President.
He said that was not the end of the party as some people have insinuated. For me, Odigie-Oyegun spoke well. President Buhari had earlier congratulated Saraki and accepted his election.
There are implications in all these but what else could be done? Those who were threatening court action against Saraki were not helping matters.
As far as this dispensation is concerned, Senator Saraki is an APC senator, though among the dissenters who joined from the PDP. The contention is that he was not APC’s choice for the post of Senate president.
But is it the party that should elect the principal officers of the National Assembly (NASS)? While the party may be interested in whom the leaders of the NASS are; the final choice rests with the lawmakers. As a matter of fact, it was APC’s involvement that led to the emergence of Saraki.
If the lawmakers had been left alone, all the APC lawmakers would have been at the inauguration chambers. With their larger numerical strength, they would have elected someone other than Saraki and Ekweremadu in the Senate.
But by APC’s intervention, 51 APC senators-elect were reportedly at the International Conference Centre (ICC) for a spurious meeting with Mr. President over the matter.
Logically, it was absolutely wrong for anyone to have scheduled another meeting at exactly the same time the new NASS members were to be inaugurated.
The two chambers of NASS were supposed to be full. Then, from nowhere, someone, whether real or imagined, fixed a parallel meeting elsewhere to resolve an issue that ought to have been resolved before that morning.
That was high-level miscalculation on the part of the APC for which it has paid very high price. The bogus meeting did not hold, yet the bulk of the APC senators were fooled and herded to the ICC building where they were until the ‘wiser’ senators that stayed behind conducted the election in their absence.
That was the end of the story as every other hue and cry amounted to emptiness. There was nothing anybody could do about it. If that was a coup against the APC, it was successful and the outcome should be accepted for Nigeria to move forward.
The same thing happened in 2011, when Hon. Aminu Waziri Tabuwal and Hon. Emeka Ihedioha were elected as Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives against the wish of their party, PDP. The PDP could do nothing about it. If it was a mistake on the part of the APC, it had been made and they should learn from it.
APC should learn never to take anything for granted. In our most unstable political environment, where selfish interest rather than altruism is the norm, politicians remorselessly and without integrity jump back and forth from one party to another, it would be foolhardy to put complete trust on any politician.
Granted that parties merged to pursue a political objective under APC, it doesn’t mean that they share the same ideology. What each is going to gain from the alliance remains the preoccupation. It is too early for the APC to begin to fight over any issue leaving the task ahead.
Nigerians would be totally disappointed and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that lost the election would laugh. Some are already insinuating that the APC has no experience to govern Nigeria. A coalition could be most unstable. If APC divides at this early stage, the truth is a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand. APC must be tactful to prevent internal wrangling that would bring it down.