Senate Presidency: What goes around comes around

Recall that at the wake of the ‘Buhari Tsunami’ that swept the All Progressives Congress (APC) to power in 2015, not a few politicians in the country threw caution to the winds in the ensuing frenzy to grab juicy positions. In the National Assembly, it was a naked dance and brazen disrespect for party supremacy that emerged victor in the race to control both the Red and Green divides. An army of APC ‘self-acclaimed’ big wigs decided to jettison party supremacy by queuing behind a ‘rebellious’ Senator Bukola and Speaker Yakubu Dogara, to give then APC leadership a bloodied nose.

The list of the 2015 set of ‘rebellious’ APC lawmakers was long, but Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume from Borno state was prominent among the APC deviants that worked in cahoots with the likes of Dino Melaye and captained by Saraki to thwart the resolution of the party to elect Senator Ahmed Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila as senate president and speaker of the House of Representatives, respectively. That rebellious act did not only stab the APC at the back, it also robbed the party of the position of deputy senate president, which was traded off by the Saraki group to the minority Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Since that ‘gestapo style’ drama that shook this country in the early morning of June 8, 2015, Nigerians have watched rather with dismay as the National Assembly was reduced to a stumbling block in the way of delivering the much-chanted change slogan promised by President Muhammadu Buhari. In good faith, Buhari had observed the principles of separation of powers in dealing with the National Assembly, especially by remaining neutral in its leadership election process. However, that singular approach became the Achilles heel to the ability of his administration to deliver the goods. Both Saraki and Dogara have since returned to their original enclave in the PDP, but some of their loyal foot soldiers have stayed put in the APC.

Keen observers of the polity have noticed a regrouping of the ‘hawks’, this time with Ndume as possible lead spoiler to once again reenact the 2015 catastrophe that may yet again rubbish the numerical strength of the APC in the National Assembly. High wired intrigues are on in connivance with PDP lawmakers to thwart efforts by the APC leadership to ensure smooth executive-legislature relations in the next government. There are indications that a desperate group within the APC lawmakers is poised at borrowing the Saraki template. This has become manifest in the reaction of Ndume to the endorsement of Senator Ahmed Lawan for senate president by the leadership of the APC with approval of President Buhari. By his lone actions, Ndume has singled himself out as the next ‘Saraki’ the one that could connive with the opposition party to frustrate the APC.

Ndume is reaping what he joined Saraki and others to sow in 2015. As the say, what goes around comes around and once beaten twice shy. The APC has shown by the early micro zoning of the presiding positions of the two chambers of the National Assembly that it can’t afford to repeat the mistake of 2015. A wise counsel to Ndume is for him to assume the position of a senior lawmaker by negotiating for ‘juicy’ committee chairmanship to remain relevant in the next four years. Playing to the gallery by disrespecting the decision of the party that has the stamp approval of Mr. President can only do further damage to the suspicion the party hierarchy harbours against Ndume. That suspicion may not also be out of place owing to the fact that like Saraki, Ndume was once a member of the PDP caucus in the senate.

While the game unfolds, the Adams Oshiomhole led leadership of the APC must remain vigilant and avoid a lame duck approach. It should be proactive in ensuring that the APC fully reaped what it has sown after a tedious electioneering. The party should identify members that toiled in the fields; those that remained loyal in the wake of betrayals, those that remained on the narrow paths and took the bashing and those that endured through thick and thin to sustain party supremacy. Only such persons should be allowed to join Lawan and Gbajabiamila on the list of principal officers of the National Assembly.

The party was fair enough to narrow its selection process for leadership of the National Assembly to individuals as reward for loyalty and respect for party rules and regulations. First, it must ensure that none of the lawmakers that supported the 2015 rebellion, are allowed to reap from the present triumph. The leadership of the party with the guidance of President Muhammadu Buhari should reign in all elected lawmakers of the APC and unite them ahead of the inaugural sittings of both chambers of the National Assembly. By so doing, the minority is completely denied the chance to carry out its threat of infiltrating the ranks of the APC lawmakers. The law has guaranteed the minority party its leadership positions and the APC must not allow another cheap stealing as occurred in the senate since 2015.

Habu writes from Lokoja, Kogi state.

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