Knocks, Praises For Oyegun Over Saraki, Dogara Saga
THOUGH, efforts of the Chief John Odigie-Oyegun-led national executive of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to broker peace among aggrieved members of the party appears not yielding the desired dividends, however, watchers of events in the party have maintained that President Muhammadu Buhari’s silence is causing more harm than good.
Some of them equally feel that Oyegun’s handling of the crises is not encouraging. There are, however, those who applauded his resolve to work with the Saraki/Dogara leadership of the National Assembly.
Already, chairmen of the state chapters of the party, in a communiqué issued by the chairman, Umar Haruna Mohammed, of the Kano State, expressed support for the position taken by Buhari and Oyegun.
The party chieftains, who deliberated on the challenges that bedeviled the party before, during and after the 2015 general elections, said Buhari’s decision to accept the outcome of the leadership election in the National Assembly in spite its shortcomings is good for democracy.
According to them: “Both President Buhari and Oyegun had accepted the emergence of the new National Assembly leadership as a constitutional reality that should not be ignored. We totally align ourselves with the President’s position regarding the leadership of the National Assembly.”
A chieftain of the party, Mr. Timi Frank, blames the national executive committee of the party for the crises that engulfed the party over the emergence of Bukola Saraki as the Senate President. Frank, who is the deputy national publicity secretary of the party, maintained that both Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, deserve commendation for rescuing the party from disgrace in the hands of the opposition PDP.
Frank said, but for the decision by Dogara and Saraki to ignore the antics of the Odigie-Oyegun’s directive, the PDP senators had enough numbers required to elect the Senate President on the day the National Assembly was inaugurated.
“While not defending Saraki or speaking for him, it is rife that our party comes home with the truth and set the records straight. Like I have said at numerous occasions and instances, the failure of the leadership of the party to do the right thing, was due to the vested interests in who emerged leaders of the National Assembly, a situation, which pointedly was responsible for what has transpired as regards the leadership in both chambers.
“While the leadership of the party had excess of over two months to harmonise all interests and positions for the NASS leadership, it allowed interests, acrimony and bitter politicking to thrive, so much that it embarrassingly allowed the squabble to play right into the very day of inauguration where the party got its first shock since taking over the reigns of governance of our great country.
“As admitted by many Nigerians and indeed sincere party men and women, were it not for the acknowledged interest of Senator Saraki, and of course, his presence that morning, the PDP, on the day, would have clearly and resoundingly won and claimed the Senate President’s seat.
This is so because, of the 59 senators present at the plenary session where the leadership of the Senate was elected, 49 of the members seated were from the PDP. “What this meant was that were the PDP to have nominated any senator (even if for mischief purpose), that Senator would have emerged Senate President if they voted en bloc.
No amount of horse-trading, therefore, as is being heaped on Saraki, would have succeeded that day. Ekweremadu’s defeat of Senator Ali Ndume for the Deputy Senate Presidency’s seat right there at the floor of the Senate chambers that morning reflects this. “Therefore, Senator Bukola Saraki should not be blamed for the travails of the APC, as he saved the party on that fateful day. He, indeed, deserve commendation and not condemnation.
The present spate of condemnation and blame should rather be directed at the leadership of the APC and their sponsors, who slated a meeting at International Conference Centre (ICC) the same time they knew both the Senate and House of Representatives would be inaugurated following the proclamation letter already sent to the NASS clerk by Buhari.
Another chieftain of the party, Mr. Osita Okechukwu, admonished the Odigie-Oyegun led executive to take a cue from the message of Buhari, who, while delivering his inauguration speech, stressed the need to adhere to laid down rules and regulations. According to him: “The leadership of the party do not know who they are working with.
They want to impose their will on him. Yes, they insist on playing politics, but politics does not mean they must do underhand cuttings.
Mr. President came out in his inaugural speech told the world, he was bold enough to say that the federal executive council under his watch would not encroach on the affairs of the legislative and judicial arm of government.
“He went further to say he expects the legislature to carry out its duties diligently, and that the judiciary should reform itself for better administration of justice. As if the party leadership did not hear him, before he went for the G7 meeting, he also issued a statement, and even in that inaugural speech, he also said I belong nobody, but I belong to everybody.
This is a statement with a lot of meaning. Before he left for G7, he said I am ready to work with anybody so long as they adhere to due process. “The little I understand of the 1999 Constitution is that it empowers members of the Senate and House of Representatives to, within themselves, elect their leaders.
Yes, for those who believe in scheming, in intrigues and who cut bills, they might say Mr. President you got it wrong.
But this is not a man who is used to cutting bills. Why is he called Mai Gaskiya? “So, I will advice the leadership of the party that for us to make progress, it must do its best to lay the foundation required to strengthen the party.
This is not a man who will submit a budget and pad it up to help himself to build a house in Abuja. So don’t subsume your interests into his. This crises could have been averted if the party leadership allowed the contestants to resolve their issues themselves.”
Not even the politically motivated congratulatory visits to Buhari in the defence House and the scramble for ministerial appointments and the national Assembly leadership positions by chieftains of the party representing various interests, particularly of the legacy group – the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP), the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), including the G5, who all felt that they brought so much to the table to deserve consideration was enough reminder to the APC of the looming trouble.
Even when a committee constituted by the national working committee (NWC) rose to the occasion by coming up with a zoning formulae to appease all the segments of the party, the party leadership did not seize the opportunity to avert the crises that eventually rocked the party over the emergence of the Saraki/Dogara leadership of the National Assembly.
When Buhari distanced himself from interfering with the election process of the National Assembly, it became a free for all for those aspiring for positions as the party, which prides itself as a truly democratic party sat by and watched the dramatis personae flex muzzles to the detriment of the party.
A last ditch effort by the party leadership, which organised mock primary further polarised members of the party in the National Assembly, as the initiative did not go down well with the Saraki and Dogara group, who had already gone far in reaching out to their PDP colleagues to achieve their respective objectives.
The APC remains a cocktail of forces with varied democratic credentials. The G5 elements of the party are not new to revolt against perceived high-handedness and impunity.
The group, anchored by the former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, rallied against the PDP’s garrison commander style of doing things, whereby all party men were forced to line up behind a particular candidate for any office.
It was, therefore, not surprising that both Saraki and Dogara returned to the trenches to voice out their opposition to the means of determining the leadership of the national Assembly.
The CPC, ANPP and the ACN elements of the APC who are coming from the godfatherism and imposition background must have been taught the lesson of their life not to make pretenses about the change mantra of the APC to keep its words as a truly democratic party.
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