By Mansir Lawal Kaware
Democracy is supposed to be different from monarchy or military system of Government. That is why it is built on the three pillars of the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary to ensure checks and balances such that excesses from any of the three arms could be curtailed. By tradition, the legislature and the judiciary are the ones responsible for checking the excesses of the executive to avoid letting it loose to the extent of going into dictatorial tendencies.
However, the turn of events in Nigeria has proved that the legislature at the National level is taking over this role of Dictatorship especially the eighth Senate by forcing its members to toe the line of interest of their leadership. Contrary opinion to their interest had always been met with decisive action as the military would put it in the event of taking over power from another Government. The Senate and House of Representatives have rules that deal with disciplinary action against its members but surprisingly in Nigeria such rules are only applied when the principal officers are affected especially the Senate President or Speaker of the House of Representatives. By this action, the NASS Leaderships are gagging the members not to express their opinions provided such opinions contradict the interest of the leaders or that of their errand boys. The last time Senator Ndume was suspended for calling the attention of the Senate over publications against Bukola Saraki and Dino Melaye while a Kano House of Representatives Member Abdulmumini Jibrin was suspended for having an imbrogolio with Dogara over budget padding, today, ten Senators tagged Pro-Buhari Senators are under threat for opposing the interest of Bukola Saraki and what was considered the position of the NASS on reversing INEC Election Time Table arrangement.
What is unclear to Nigerians is the rationale behind the changes and the benefit derivable from that change. Senators who voiced their opinions against it are now being punished in the name of rule twenty this, this and thirty that, that as a cover to the ill motive of the National Assembly Leaders. Dino Melaye the alleged third hand of Saraki and the self appointed discipline master of the Senate has taken the Senators to task, forgetting that he begged their support during his recall threat for opposing the interest of his boss. One wonders whether Bukola Saraki was elected Senate President from Ilorin and not by the Senators at the Senate Chambers. When Dino Melaye threatened to pounce on Senator Oluremi Tinubu the Senate rules escaped the memory of the Senate President and other Senators, instead Saraki swiftly acted and douse the tension without suspending Dino Melaye for disgracing the Senate and Nigeria by his action, because whatever Dino Melaye did at the Senate could be viewed to have the tacit approval of the Senate President of the eighth Senate.
If the claim of Dino Melaye is true, that their action was not targeted at Buhari then let him give reason for it. The point is this, some of them are nursing the ambition of cross carpeting to PDP or the Obasanjo Third Force, and they want to give advantage to Atiku or a PDP candidate or Third Force candidate as the case may be otherwise of which benefit will the charge be to the National Assembly members? If they entertain fear that the executive or the President Specifically may not support them to return, the change of Time Table will not solve the problem because it could only affect Secondary elections. Whoever is to be stopped would meet that fence at Primary election, because the President could not afford to risk the defeat of his party candidates at the general elections. More so, if they want Nigerians to believe that they are not being selfish, they could have placed the State Assembly elections first followed by that of the Governors, then theirs as National Assembly members and the Presidential, that is assuming what they did is right and with good intention.
All these acts of the National Assembly are still subject to debate because lawyers and other stakeholders are still of the view that the responsibility of giving chronology to election scheduled dates is that of the Electoral body. The Senators are surprisingly afraid of the trio of Bukola Saraki, Dino Melaye and Ike Ekweremadu as if they were not equally elected into the upper chamber from their various constituencies. It is odd on how magical the Senators kept prostrating kissing the ground before the feet of Dino Melaye to satisfy the interest of Saraki and Ekweremadu. This behavior will subject the Senators to persecution one after the other by the Senate leadership.
The same Dino Melaye went ahead to announce the removal of Abdullahi Adamu from heading the Northern Senators Caucus and replacing him with Wammako all within minutes, this action looks childish coming from the Nigerian Senate. The fact that they found themselves in the Senate does not mean the remaining Nigerians are fools such that Dino Melaye and co. can take them for a ride. When last have we heard the NASS presenting a motion and passing a concurred bill on it within a period of two weeks or thereabout? The recent statement by the Emir of Kano that the change from this Government is incomplete because Senators are still receiving 36 million naira as monthly salary apart from other privileges might have been the reason for the rush, they view their representation on the basis of the money that accrued into their pockets other than their contributions to the well being of Nigerians they claimed to represent. Little wonder therefore that they view the other senators who wanted the upper chamber to act with decorum as their enemies who must be crushed.
Their action as Senate leader will be making the task of Ahmed Bola Tinubu of reconciling aggrieved APC members much more difficult. While efforts are being made to reconcile the APC members the Senators are widening the cracks for him. More so, his wife Senator Oluremi Tinubu had a statement credited to her saying that Buhari dumped her husband after 2015 this may have been influenced by Dino Melaye and his Boss since as a Senator, they have access to her. If this is so, it means they are uniting to fight a common enemy, because Oluremi and her husband are not in the good books of Bukola and his men. For Ike Ekweremadu and his PDP colleagues, this may be to their advantage as they have nothing to lose. The complaints from Tinubu against APC National Chairman over the reconciliation Saga is coming too early from him, as his cry for help by distributing his letter of complaints is a sign that he might not have the sagacity to handle the assignment as he was thought to be by the President. One wonders the freedom, he was given to select his members yet he began with complaints even before he gets half way into the job. It could be recalled that when he was appointed, some people said Bola Tinubu is himself an aggrieved member and not much could be expected from him. With his wife saying he was dumped this may be raising more questions than answers.
However, this statement from Oluremi Tinubu and other allies of her who are saying Tinubu has not been treated well need to expatiate on their claims. What is it that they wanted Buhari to do for Tinubu which the President has not done for him? It is Tinubu that gave the Vice President, he gave a number of Ministers, and he gave Chief Executives of some federal Parastatals. Even his attempt to give Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives was not opposed by Buhari and he still succeeded in making Gbajbiamila the House Leader. Naja’atu Bala Mohammed has severally accused Tinubu of creating problem at the National Assembly, while Buhari did not act to the contrary, yet his loyalists are saying Buhari sidelined him. What then do they want to Buhari to do for or give to Tinubu for them to be contented that Tinubu has been compensated?
Let them not forget that the likes of Obasanjo, Atiku, Bukola Saraki, Ogbannaya Onu, Rochas Okorocha and other PDP Governors that crossed to APC have contributed to the success of the party. Whoever supports Buhari has made his contribution, but Buhari in himself is also a material worth winning elections in Nigeria. It is therefore important for Bola Tinubu to call his wife and his people to order, because with these kind of statements coming from his close associates, his attempt to call on others to listen to him for his reconciliation mission may not be taken seriously.
On the whole, the reconciliation committee headed by Tinubu should find inroads towards solving the problems and not to turn into sending letters to those in authority to solve the problem, otherwise he wouldn’t have been appointed. As for the senate, let them know that re-ordering election sequence will not be the best way of stopping Buhari, they have taken for themselves a task that could not be realized by them. The re-ordering and the postponement of election by Jonathan administration couldn’t stopped Buhari even with Jonathan and majority PDP Governors in control of the power machineries. Buhari has to re-write the wrongs in Nigeria. The important thing is to start somewhere which he has done and let them know that Nigerian electorates are with him.
Mansir Lawal Kaware writes in from Katsina.