Why Saraki Is Winning, By Nasiru Suwaid
For the past few days I have been thinking about the happenings in the new Nigerian ruling party, the All Progressive Congress, how a single individual or so it seemed to be projected or rather, the myth being created, has been able to take all within the party of change and won. Unfortunately, usually and traditionally, most myths are nothing but a product of clairvoyant concoction, propounded and propagated to explain scenarios that are not easily comprehended and generally understood. The reason why a single person, could be getting the upper hand, against the party which had brought him into power are basically two; which are the politics of 2019 presidential and general elections, in terms of who gets what, when and where future political destinies lies.
But this theory, apart from merely focusing a strain of suspicion on certain individuals, who truly and evidently have a justifiable motive, it still could not explain, why the new ruling party is looking very ill prepared at managing success. However, perhaps it is the second reason, which could explain why things looked how they seemingly are, which is the fact that the All Progressive Congress has suddenly abandoned politics, for merely pandering to the art and act of governance, not minding it is the inordinate power games which had brought into power and most importantly, it is what would sustain it in power. In fact, no place has this fact become so glaringly self-evident, as the hullabaloo which heralded the election of the new leadership of the Nigerian National Assembly, which is composed of the Senate and the House of Representatives.
It first started with the selection of the party representative, in terms of the individual who should stand for the ruling party, in the Office of the Senate President, Office of the Deputy Senate President, Office of the House Speaker and Office of the Deputy Speaker. Rather than following time honored formula of agreeing for a ‘consensus’ candidate, the party opted for a more fractious mock elections, not minding that such selection process is hardly binding on anyone, most especially, the loser in the contest, which is an established tradition within the realm of Nigerian politics. Generally, apart from in few unexpected cases, any individual that loses a primary selection contest, blames the party leadership as being biased and against his or her inordinate personal interest and ambition.
It is within this context that Bukola Saraki and Ike Ekweremadu emerged as the new Senate President, while Yakubu Dogara and Yusuf Lasun where elected as the leadership of the House of Representatives, in spite of the position of the ruling party, which had earlier anointed its candidate through a mock intra-party exercise. The fact that the party would have gone into elections against a bitter foe and adversary, thus, deep introspection and smart strategizing is highly required, seemed to have escaped the attention of the leadership, leading to the problem that stares it in the face, when against all known and established legislative norms and conventions, the minority People’s Democratic Party, was allowed to choose a new leadership for the party in power and despite whatever is the wishes of the majority party.
Unfortunately, rather than managing the crisis though political foresight and sagacity, it seems the All Progressive Governor’s Forum is being set up to be disgraced, by being roped in to support a party position that is neither democratic nor rational or even logical. It first started with a planted news story and an unverified rumor in the media on Monday the 23rd of June, about eight of the governors asking the All Progressive Congress Chairman to resign. Then by the early hours of Tuesday morning, they have after a long meeting with the president, demanded for their Senators to follow the party position, which requires them to merely ‘accept’ names handed down by the party, because, as some funny lawyers have been propagating, it is the conventional norm and the legislative rules for the political party, to be guided on who would their Majority Leader, Deputy Majority Leader, Chief Whip and Deputy Chip Whip of both the Senate and the House of Representatives.
The folly in this position is that in a representative democracy, a political party could direct and decree for a collection of elected individual group, who is to lead them as their Majority Leader, unfortunately a classical contradiction to the ethos of democracy, as exemplified by the North-East Senate Caucus Meeting of the All Progressive Congress held in the evening of the 24th of June 2015, where Senator Ali Ndume was able to garner much more votes than Senator Ahmed Lawan, as observers there claimed it was eleven to two. Yet, it is the latter Lawan who is the party’s preferred choice, I am sure no democratic institution in the world and no collection of elected democrats, would accept to be led by one who is not their choice. Perhaps, it why when the Progressive Governors Forum met President Muhammadu Buhari, as against what was claimed by the media, he refused to intercede by asking for the strict following of the party position, knowing its implication as patently and evidently undemocratic, rather, what he did was he urged the governors to continue negotiating truce between both sides.
Of course, what Senator Bukola Saraki did was irresponsible, indefensible and highly against the tenets of the party unity, party discipline and even party supremacy, however, in the process of punishing an irritant Saraki, by forcing him to accept those colleagues of his, whom he betrayed. The party should not support an undemocratic measure, which would confer leadership positions to individuals, without allowing them to undergo any democratic legitimizing process, especially as the Senate as an institution is composed of individuals, who have held high and exalted political offices in the past. Following or adopting such a position, would only make them to implode by turning them rebellious against the government and the consequences will be most felt by the person who must work with them directly, President Muhammadu Buhari.
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