By Ikechukwu Okaforadi
The dawn of 2015 session of the Senate clearly did not leave anybody in doubt as to what manner of executive – legislative relationship expected in the four year period of Saraki’s leadership of the hallowed chamber.
Descriptions have not sufficed to illustrate the style with which Saraki got power against dictates of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and President Muhammadu Buhari himself.
At the time, Buhari did not leave anyone in the dark over his preference for Ahmed Lawan as the Senate President, being the choice candidate of the party, especially with the President himself being a party man. In one of the peace meetings by APC to resolve the National Assembly debacle, which Buhari attended, he simply told Saraki and Dogara to obey the party.
However, though many have described the ascension to power by Saraki; jettisoning party conscience and embracing the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), as an aberration, some political scholars view the grand scheme as classical politics, submitting that it smacks of what to expect in a healthy democracy where independent legislature is the sine qua non.
By and large, the contest is over and Saraki has consolidated as the Senate President, but the much desired reconciliation expected after such tall fight has eluded the ruling APC, thereby rather than healing political wounds of victory and defeat, it appears the Senate President has rather pulled back into the trenches to ensure an absolute obliteration of the executive arm and its cohorts.
The chairman of the ruling party, despite having majority in the parliament, has regrettably failed to either rally the party loyalists together both in the parliament and even at the state levels, thereby allowing some minor political discrepancies to degenerate to full blown war and crisis, even threatening the 2019 chances of the APC.
For about three years now, APC chairman has remained silent and indolent, lacking all the political zeal to wade into the internal crisis ravaging the ruling party in states like Bauchi, Kaduna, Kano, Jigawa, even Katsina, Kogi, and many more. Political observers have submitted in various platforms that the APC chairman gallivants while the party rages in political inferno which threatens its survival.
The National Assembly crisis is certainly where the APC chairman was expected to prove his mettle as the chief executive of the party, but he failed to arrest the crisis.
The fight and mutual suspicion between the Like Mind Senators and the Unity Forum have remained much alive in the red chamber and have constituted a tall wall of division between the two factions in the Senate, especially at a time when the barrier should have been crumbled by the leadership of APC.
Apparently, this continued suspicion and division explain why the Senate President does not hesitate a while to seize every opportunity to deal a deadly blow against the executive arm or any its agents; after all his candidature was never sanctioned by them. No gainsaying the fact that clearly there is a difference between Bukola Saraki and the President Mohammadu Buhari.
Saraki does not only end in going against the executive, but has left every senator in no doubt as to his determination to wield the sledge hammer on any senator who displays a wavering spirit in his resoluteness to accomplish his course.
Suspension has been meted out on senators like Ali Ndume, who first fell victim of Saraki’s agenda, by criticising senate’s rejection of Ibrahim Magu as the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
No doubt Ndume has been whipped into the line in the senate, even as some other senators have, in the face of what happened to Ndume, preferred to pander to the whims of the Senate President than defend President Buhari, on whose popularity they cruised to victory in the 2015 elections.
Those who cannot summon the conscience to fight with Saraki against Buhari, have rather remained silent apparently for the fear of what might follow if they move against the direction of the Senate President.
Just in short time ago, the Senate had expeditiously passed the 2010 Electoral Act (Amendment), in which it also reordered the election sequence of the 2019. In the new sequence, the Presidential elections which use to be the first, was made the last, prompting Buhari supporters to perceive this as a plot against the President in the 2019.
Observing the composition of the senators, coupled with the speed with which they horridly passed the Bill, one will be forced to believe that they were assembled by the Senate President to do a hatchet job against the President.
Members of the senate conference committee that adopted the reordering are: Chairman of the concurrence committee, Suleiman Nazif, Peter Nwoboshi, Dino Melaye, Shehu Sani, Hope Uzodimma, Gilbert Nnaji, Biodun Olujimi. The list is a composition of Saraki’s loyalists and PDP senators.
Nonetheless, as Saraki’s antagonist posture towards Buhari continues to linger in the senate, the latest victim in the dirty fight is a ranking senator Abdullahi Adamu (APC, Nasarawa West), who was unceremoniously removed by the Northern Senators Forum (NSF) over allegation of financial mismanaged and maladministration.
Subsequently, senator Adamu led a group of ten senators to stage a walkout in the senate over the election sequence, which the aggrieved lawmakers said was targeted at frustrating President Mohammadu Buhari ahead of the 2019 general election.
Addressing journalists, Adamu said “I am raising a Constitutional Point of Order. Section 76 of the constitution with reference to the matter in discussion stipulates that election to each House of the National Assembly shall be held on the date to be appointed by INEC”.
He also said that a lot of senators wanted to oppose the amendment but were not allowed by the Senate President, adding that the documents circulated to them were not signed by both the chairman and co chairman of the committee, as well as many other members of the committee, yet the senate president does not want to allow the senate find out why they did not sign the report against the tradition of the senate.
According to him, the aggrieved senators cannot understand why the senate will dwell in making a law to target a person, describing the amendment as partisan in nature, as there is nothing to rush about in passing the Bill.
However, few days after he mounted this hostility to fight for Buhari, one of the Saraki henchmen in the Senate, Dino Melaye, wrote a letter to the Senate leadership announcing the removal of Senator Adamu as the chairman of the Northern Senators Forum, alleging financial mismanagement and bad leadership.
Reading the letter by Dino Melaye, the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the plenary, said “This is to inform the Senate that the majority signatories of this letter are members of the Northern Senators Forum.
As an indication that the sack of Senator Adamu is political, another senator, Ovie Omo-Agege, who had also spoken vehemently against the new election sequence, was faced with a suspension threat, following which he apologized for going against the senate.
The Senate had on Tuesday, directed its committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions to investigate Omo-Agege “for alleging that the National Assembly’s amendment of sequence of 2019 general election was targeted at President Muhammadu Buhari.”
The directive was sequel to the adoption of a Point of Order by Sen. Dino Melaye (Kogi-APC) on the matter.
In his apology, Omo-Agege said “I was not here, my colleague, Sen. Dino Melaye brought a motion under privileges, orders 14 and 15.
“That motion arose as a consequent of a debate on the sequence of the election on the Electoral Act as amended which was passed to the Senate on Wednesday last week.
“Mr President, in the course of that debate, and subsequent debate, I did address the press on the matter.
“Mr President there were certain remarks that I made in the course of that press interview which my attention has been drawn to. It is offensive not just to Sen. Dino Melaye but indeed to the entire Senate.
“Mr President, I rise today to apologise to the leadership and the entire senate for that remark. Indeed, Mr President, I take it back”, Omo-Agege said.
Meanwhile, the committee has two weeks to submit its report before the senate to enable the lawmakers take a decision on his apology.