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Published On: Tue, Aug 28th, 2018

2019 election and NASS siege

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By Hafsat Abdullahi

The country has witnessed how key politicians holding important positions in the country change political parties at the peak of the upcoming general elections which has become a norm adopted by Nigerian politicians.
The polity seems to be heated up with one controversy or another as politicians defect from one party to another to secure their political interests.

The defection became brazen when the Senate President, Bukola Saraki (who won re-election in 2015 to the senate after leaving PDP for (APC) decided to leave the APC for the PDP amidst the upcoming election.
It is believed that his defection was as a result of his ambition to become President of Nigeria, which he had nursed for a very long time. Seeing that he could not achieve his ambition on the platform of APC, he took his leave of the ruling party.
His defection and that of his loyalists indeed, has awaken the spirit of the members of All Progressive Congress who are more determined to impeach Saraki and replace him with a member of the APC as they believe that they are the majority in the red house.
One could assume that the tussle for the leadership of the National Assembly between the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) might have provided a platform where the DSS laid the National Assembly.
DSS lays siege on NASS

On the 7th of August, the operatives of the Department for State Services on mask barricaded the National Assembly and denied the lawmakers and their staff entry into the complex.
There has been an accusation by the opposition that the APC is behind this undemocratic act which was allegedly aided by the Director General (DG) of Department for State Services, Lawal Daura, an act condemned by all democrats.
Political analysts believed that the siege on the National Assembly was conspired between the DSS and APC to remove Senate President Bukola Saraki, who has joined the minority PDP.
Following speculations that some lawmakers had planned to forcefully open the National Assembly and impeach the President of the Senate, PDP senators stormed the NASS early morning and insisted that either they are allowed entry into the premises or there will be violence.
After much struggle, they were allowed entry into the NASS, where they sat affront the entry to the Senate chambers to ensure no APC entered into the place.

However, the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yusuf Lasun, said he was unaware of any impeachment plot against the leadership of the Senate.
The APC and its members have denied its involvement in the siege and had gone further to accuse the PDP of hatching the siege to implicate it. With all accusations in the atmosphere, only the architect of the siege, Lawal Daura can give answers to questions bogging the minds of Nigerians. Why he did what he did? Who gave orders to him? Whom he conspired with?
Osinbanjo orders immediate sack of DSS DG Lawal Daura
The action of Lawal Daura on the 7th August was an unforgettable one which will continue to linger on the minds of Nigerians for decades to come.
For quite some times, Lawal Daura had exhibited a level of courage and audacity with every action he has taken, though most people think they are injurious to Nigeria’s democracy. Daura in some of his actions, had ignored court orders, defied the presidency and prevented the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from carrying out their official duty.
Example is where he deployed DSS operatives and prevented the search of the residences of former Director General (DG) of Department of State Security Service (DSS), Ita Ekpenyong and former Director General of National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ayo Oke.
The silence of the presidency on these issues has contributed greatly to Daura’s recent siege on the National Assembly which is said to be the base of democracy of any country.
With the siege laid on the National Assembly, the Acting President Yemi Osinbanjo, ordered the immediate sack of the DSS Director General , Lawal Daura, who was asked to hand over to the most senior officer of the agency.
Osinbanjo in his words said “the unlawful act which was done without the knowledge of the presidency is condemnable and completely unacceptable…. I assure Nigerians that all persons within the law enforcement apparatus who participated in this travesty will be identified and subjected to appropriate disciplinary action”.
IGP denies involvement of the police
Following the heinous siege, the Acting Vice President Yemi Osinbanjo was forced to summon the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris and the Director-General of the State Security Service, Lawal Daura at the presidential villa. At the villa, the IGP denied that police was involved in the siege and stated that DG of DSS has acted independently with no permission from the police.
Fingers pointed at by APC and PDP to each other on NASS siege
The opposition PDP has accused the APC of plotting the siege in order to forcefully remove the Senate President, whereas the APC is also accusing the PDP of trying to taint its image for political gains in the next year elections.
The senate president Bukola Saraki and his Deputy, had alleged that the presidency is trying to implicate and indict them along with other members of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over the siege on National Assembly by the Department of State Services (DSS) and through thatr, imprison them to create a vacuum in the Senate leadership.
There were also allegations by the Reformed All Progressives Congress (R-APC) that the APC is wooing senators with N50 million to achieve their aim of impeaching the Senate President Bukola Saraki.
They believed that the presidency wants to turn facts against them and blame them for the siege which they believe is the presidency’s plot against democracy as the general election draws close.
However, the APC through its publicity secretary, Yekini Nabena, denied it was behind the siege. He said: “while the party is monitoring the developments in the National Assembly like every concerned Nigerian and stakeholder, there is absolutely no basis for all the false allegations and attempts to blame the APC national chairman for the development there. It is strictly a legislative matter.”
The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomole, has insisted on the impeachment of the senate president for defecting to the minority Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) with only 48 senators. Oshiomole demonstrated confidence that Saraki will definitely be impeached according to the law and democratic norms.
However, Saraki has said that all efforts to remove him from office will end in futility. He had expressed confidence that he will not give in to pressure, as he was elected by members, hence he will not resign, just as some of his loyalists had vowed to resist his impeachment.
This indeed seems like the usual mind games the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) play with Nigerians.
Siege link to 2019 election
There is a general believe that the siege is related to the upcoming general elections. Clearly, every party is making changes and strategizing in order to be at an advantage against its opponent. To have an agenda or a weapon that other parties do not have to secure victory.
The leadership of the senate is indeed an important position that the ruling APC and opposition PDP wants to have at its disposal especially ahead of the 2019 general election, hence the heated up tussle for the position between the two major parties.
With the All Progressive Congress (APC) having a consensus candidate, President Muhammadu Buhari, as its presidential aspirant in the general election, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is doing everything possible to secure victory in the upcoming general elections.
The PDP wants to keep the position of the Senate President to itself, as Saraki who was elected as the President under the platform of APC recently decamped to PDP. To this, the All Progressives Congress are not letting anything loose without a fight as they have demanded that Saraki must resign or be impeached as they feel that the APC is the majority party and should not be treated as the minority.
Political watchers have observations that the two major political parties want to occupy the office of the Senate President in order to use the powers and resources vested in that office to create better environment for their party to put up an impressive performance in 2019.
The office of the Senate President and the Deputy Senate President, no doubt, has huge budget, and these funds can be deployed by occupants of that office to assist their party in giving a good fight in the election.
Based on antecedents, the ruling party will hide hid funds meant to influence elections in the budget of the year running up to the general election, and it is believed that if the Senate President and the Deputy are from the ruling party, hiding the funds will be easy, but if from the opposition, it might not sail through due to thorough scrutiny.
This, observers believe, could be one of the reasons behind this lion and tiger fight for the seat of the Senate President and the Deputy between the APC and PDP in a build up to the general elections.

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