National Assembly Crisis: In Defence Of Lai Mohammed By Gbolahan Yusuf
The just concluded elections for the leadership of the National Assembly left a bitter pill for the new ruling party to swallow. The ensuing vituperations and divides was a setback too early for a journey just started. Many observers flew out like a stone leaves a catapult, to criticize one party or another, or like myself, all parties involved. As a keen observer of social media circles in the country, I found some criticisms worthy, some I found completely out of place. It was heart-sinking to accept that the politics of our dear country had long been reduced to attacking via criticisms, anyone who is not on your side and in a case where your opponents are abstract yet powerful, as a political party like the APC is, the tendency is to look for a real face to hang on the faceless body of this nemesis, seeing as there has to be a face for them to throw a punch. In the many criticisms of the APC, it seemed the party’s opponents had found a face in the man who speaks for the party, Alhaji Lai Mohammed. Or those people were just being plain ignorant.
Alhaji Lai Mohammed is the National Publicity Secretary of the APC. By such, he is the spokesperson of the party. A spokesperson speaks only on behalf of another, or a group. That seems very easy to understand. But apparently, many still don’t. Many do not understand that Alhaji Lai will not give a statement at any point in time, except that it is in line with the party’s NEC, at that point in time.
On the day the NASS elections held, APC had given a directive to legislators elected on its platform on how to vote and not vote. Some members of the party disregarded the directive and went ahead with personal decisions. The legality or not, of such directive as was given, is not the point of this piece. What is important is that, as in any organization, a directive was given but in this case, there was no regard for directives. Agreed, the APC is no mere organization but a ruling political party of Africa’s most populous country. You would be wrong to refer to it as a public organization but private doesn’t exactly cut it as well. The undisputable fact therefore is that, even if there were points with which to argue for Bukola Saraki and Yakubu Dogara, it will have been fool-hardy to expect the APC to immediately clap for and welcome the same people that had abandoned a party directive and set up a romance with the party’s opponents.
Amidst the confusion of the day, national leaders of the party were spotted looking furiously dumb-founded and helplessly cornered. Firstly, it will have amounted to abdication of responsibility to the people if the ruling party did not address such cracks publicly and immediately, the party had to respond. Secondly, there was nothing for the APC to hide anymore, it was public that the APC had a choice, it was public that the PDP had a choice, it was also now public that a good number of APC legistors went with PDP choices. The statement from the APC could have been predicted. It was labelled treacherous, irresponsible and unacceptable to the party. I may not agree, but to the party leadership, that was what it was. THE PARTY LEADERSHIP, not LAI MOHAMMED. The statement was merely signed of, as it should be, by the spokesperson.
In came the attacks from left, right and center on the eloquent man behind APC’s impressive PR. Groups loyal to the Senate President were quick in chastising the person of Alhaji Lai for merely saying what many in the party felt. What those groups meant to Lai Mohammed was that, this should not be signed by you, you are also a Kwara man. Should he have resigned rather than do his job and speak the party’s mind because of his fellow “kwara man”?
Many suggested he was speaking for himself when President Buhari who leads the party later accepted to work with the elected leaders which was at variance with the party’s stance, conveniently forgetting that even the President had refrained from congratulating the leaders for the anti-party moves and that in any case, he was speaking as President of the country while Alhaji Lai spoke as spokesperson of a political party with tenets to uphold.
It is encouraging that with the luxury of time, the APC has reversed its earlier stance in a press conference with the National Chairman itself, where he said rightly, that the APC had no choice but to accept them. If they could not find any choice but to accept them, it means they looked for choices other than having to accept them. Alhaji Lai was not speaking for himself. He was speaking on behalf.
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