A silver lining seemed to have appeared in the dark cloud that hangs ominously over the National Assembly. The long drawn-out crisis within the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC is being settled agreeably in the Green Chambers, while the Upper Chamber, the Eighth Senate, is still embroiled in the same acrimonious bickering that attended its stormy take-off on June 9. Now, after weeks of squabbles, fierce but contentious political activities involving mudslinging and unhealthy horse trading over the appointment of principal officers of the House of Representatives, Speaker Yakubu Dogara had finally yielded to pressure from the All Progressive Congress and named its appointees into key position of leadership of the Lower Chamber which included Honourable Femi Gbajamiamila as the Majority leader.
The development was a sharp contrast to Dogara’s earlier stand that the position of minority leader must go to the Northwest in order to accommodate the federal character principle in the sharing of principal offices in the House. That had come barely a day after President Muhammadu Buhari met with the House caucus of the party in fretful attempt to douse tension in the hallowed chamber and foster an enduring atmosphere of reconciliation and cooperation among party members.
The meeting, though brief, has really shown the intrinsic value of President Buhari to the party and his indisputable role as a game changer as he was aptly described by some elated legislators.
As a result, the Speaker’s camp, the Consolidation Group, conceded three out of the four principal officers to Gbajamiamila’s Loyalists Group. Such is life, and that was politics was all about – concessions in the spirit of give and take. The APC legislators are now filled with renewed hope and vigour to work for their peoples and towards uplifting the status of the country.
There was really a change of heart and attitude on the part of bellicose posture of defiance by some belligerent members a day after they had resumed from the compulsory recess, forced by, because a reconciliation gesture had pervaded the entire chamber, signalling the end of the problems and ushering in a new era of understanding and cooperation. The day marked the turning point in the triumph of internal democracy which was anchored on patriotism, constitutionalism, sense of reasoning and rationalism. Such have been the factors that guided the steps taken by the entire legislators in accordance with the dictates and examples set by the leadership and the fraternity demonstrated by all the contending groups that were party to various negotiations.
While the leadership of the House of Representative had actually bowed to the wishes of President Buhari by obeying the directives of their party on filling the vacancy of principal officers with its nominees, the story in the Senate was quite different. Its leadership was arrogant and overconfidence, deliberately and openly defiant to the counselling of President Buhari as it stuck to the earlier list of principal officers pencilled down by its President, Bukola Saraki. In what also appeared to have been a continuation of the bitter squabbles over the leadership positions, thirty-five APC Senators have pitched tents with forty-nine PDP Senators in passing a vote of confidence on obstinate, brash and impudent Saraki and his Deputy, Ike Ekweremadu. The pro-Saraki senators now number more than eighty and could very easily use that advantage to obstruct any executive bill passing through the Senate, or to scuttle the effort of the so-called majority party in pushing its policies through. The Saraki protagonists could also set a process in motion for the impeachment of Mr. President.
The Senate President implored his supporters to consider challenges of defying the party supremacy as inspiring and needing immediate action to be overcome. Senators who responded to Saraki’s exhortations, therefore, dwelt on what they called the persecution of some senators and their wives for political reasons and called on the police and all other security agencies not to allow themselves to be used by any person to harass, intimidate or blackmail the Senate. They also resolved to justify the mandate given them by those in support of Saraki’s intransigence.
The senators were obviously referring to the case of forgery of the Senate’s Standing Order, 2015 by the Management of the National Assembly, investigated by the police. The forged Standing Orders were alleged to have been used by the Clerk of the National Assembly in conducting the controversial election of the Senate’s presiding officers during its inauguration of June 9. Already the police have indicted the Clerk and two of his colleagues and they will soon be prosecuted. That may be an interesting development which may provide an acid test for the much advertised fight against corruption by the Buhari administration. It may also provide a completely new beginning of an end to Saraki’s presidency and may also remove his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu from the contentious position he was said to be occupying unjustly.