Saturday, July 2, 2016

Saraki: What Do Buhari’s Men Really Want?

By Jude Ndukwe 

Since Senator Bukola Saraki emerged president of the Senate on June 9, 2015, the Senate has been forced to carry out their legislative functions in an atmosphere of suppressed tension as managed by the current leadership of the upper chamber. But for the equanimity with which the senate president and his team have handled the political persecution visited on them by the executive and the cabal within the ruling party, the nation by now would have been in irreversible chaos.

*Buhari and Saraki
It is very rare in democracies like ours for the ruling and opposition parties in a legislative chamber to strike a harmonious chord to the extent that beyond election of their leaders, they both work together to ensure a smooth running of not only the senate but also the national assembly and the nation in general. They also have ensured that the usual rift that characterised the relationship between the executive and legislature has been reduced significantly if not removed entirely.

Even in times when distractions are absent, it is enough an arduous task to lead a senate peopled by high ranking Nigerians who come to the senate with the delicate complexities that precariously hold our nation together, not because they are cryonic or parochial, but because they all represent peoples with divergent identities, peculiar needs and expectations, not to talk of when the leadership of the senate has been hit with needless and relentless distractions of persecution engineered by those self-acclaimed godfathers and members of the cabal not only in the presidency but also in the ruling APC.

With Buhari’s style of governance, a lot of people who had their eyes on Nigeria’s till were disappointed. It is difficult reaching the till for self-gratification or reward for working hard for the party. However, the ingenuous ones among them who have always been ingenuous in doing what they know how to do best have since fashioned a new way of unfairly getting a share of our national cake.
It is therefore not surprising that the DSS recently raided the home of one of president Buhari’s trusted lackeys who is currently serving in the Presidential Committee on Arms Procurement, Air Commodore Umar Muhammed (rtd), where a whopping sum of $1.5m cash and a series of about 18 luxury cars including Rolls Royce, Ferrari, Buggati etc were said to have been found in his Abuja home. It was also alleged that Muhammed was fronting for some high ranking government officials in EFCC and Office of the National Security Adviser.

This is why Saraki’s statement that “there is now a government within the government of President Buhari” is true. For, behold, if there is no government within this government, how would one man allegedly fronting for powerful government officials be so irresponsible as to work at great variance with the main policy thrust of this administration which is the fight against corruption by involving in crass self-enrichment?

If there is no government within this government, how would Buhari say one thing and the Attorney-General does another?

At a dinner with members of the National Assembly and leaders of the All Progressives Congress at the State House to mark Democracy Day, President Buhari had said: “I hereby restate the commitment of this administration to observe the principles of Separation of Powers which defines and delineates the functions and powers of each arm of Government…Therefore I, as the President, and we as the executive arm of Government will not interfere in the functions , functioning and process of the Legislature nor the Judiciary.”

From Buhari’s avowed commitment on behalf of himself and the Executive arm to the principles of the Separation of Powers, it is obvious that those in government acting contrary to this commitment are working at cross-purposes with the president’s intentions and actions, therefore forming themselves into a government within a government. The reason for this is not far-fetched.

Just like the Air Commodore Umar Muhammed (rtd) saga, godfathers in APC see Saraki as a stumbling block towards their intention to further corner our commonwealth through the Senate. Having stripped Lagos of its prized assets, such godfathers want to extend their sticky fingers to the national till, hence, the need to keep planting their bootlickers in places of authority and privilege so that their notorious intentions for the nation would continue unchecked.

That was why certain persons were tipped and backed by these godfathers to become leaders of the Senate during the last elections into positions of leadership in the Red Chamber. However, providence, having seen their impure intentions, decided to send those set of senators on a non-existing errand at the International Conference Centre, and by the time they returned from that errand, the Senate had concluded its election without rancour, and for the first time in the history of our recent democratic evolution, it was proved and till date that two major opposing parties can actually put their differences aside and work together for the common good of the nation.

It is this beautiful development that should lay the foundation for good governance above bitter rivalry in our continued political development that is about to be destroyed by those who should actually cherish and nurture it by using their powers to relentlessly force a new set of puppet-leadership upon Distinguished Senators just to feather their own nests.

The cabal in the presidency and the APC should better mind what they are asking for. They cannot afford to push their luck too far at this stage of their administration. After the bitterness and the extremely polluted atmosphere that characterized the last general elections, a situation which still conspicuously sticks to our socio-political fabric till today, it is more than a miracle that Saraki and Ekweremadu have been able to galvanise their colleagues from all political divides to tow the line of working assiduously and concordantly with the executive arm of government despite the fact that APC does not have the required two third majority in either chambers to push through some Bills. Even the peace that reigns in the House of Assembly today is as a result of Saraki being able to tactically and tactfully sell his party’s agenda to parliamentarians and manage the ego of every individual and party to a point of near-perfection as the president of the national assembly.

Saraki is a blessing to APC, but like most of God’s blessings, they come in surprise packages. That he has a level-headed and focused deputy from the opposition PDP in the person of Senator Ike Ekweremadu is one fact the APC goons should not take for granted. Ekweremadu has also served as a unifying factor for the National Assembly, always putting national interest above every other interest without necessarily compromising the interest of his own party. It is rare to see this kind of combination in a clime like ours.

One can only imagine where we would have been today if Saraki and Ekweremadu had not managed the issue of the 2016 budget with utmost care. That budget stirred a lot of controversies capable of throwing the nation off balance and further take us from quagmire to the doldrums, but for the legislative sagacity and leadership dexterity of those two men.

The cabal in the presidency and APC should mind what they ask for; they should not push their luck too far.

The moment they rupture the harmonious chord in the national assembly for their own selfish reasons, they put governance at risk. Some PDP lawmakers are already threatening to withdraw their support for the current administration. The implications of such threats to the smooth running of government can only be imagined than experienced. The APC big-wigs should not behave like political neophytes who are not aware of the monumental implications of the continued distraction and interference in the affairs of the legislature and persecution of the leaders.

If a harassment-induced revolution by PDP lawmakers and some APC ones loyal to the senate is allowed, the resultant effect would be regrettable. APC’s usual blackmail of the legislature by singing the usual song of putting the nation first to them might not work then. If anyone needs to put the nation first, it is members of government within Buhari’s government, and if there is any time to do that, it is now!

Two rams cannot drink from a bucket, they will surely lock horns. It is the housefly that ignores advice that follows the corpse into the grave!

*Ndukwe, a commentator on public issues could be reached with: jrndukwe@yahoo.co.uk


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