By Charles Onunaiju
Having been elected in defiance to and against the will of the Nigeria’s traditional political establishment, President Muhammadu Buhari was not meant to have a smooth sail in governance. Despite the comfortable majority of the ruling party in the two chambers of the parliament , such key institution as the legislature, which would have ordinarily functioned to compliment the executive arm, also formed by ruling party to drive governance, was from the beginning arrayed against it. The traditional political establishment, overwhelmed by the popular rage that swept the formerly “unelectable” General Buhari to power, quickly recovered from the shock of the “Febuhari” electoral audacity of ordinary Nigerians and regrouped to erect governance hurdles.
Messers Bukola Saraki and Ike Ekweremadu, Senate President and deputy president respectively were the desperate political revenge to the electoral effrontery of the popular masses to defy the will of the deeply entrenched political establishment.
The best and easiest way President Buhari- led federal government to play into the hand of his angry and desperate political detractors is to go into the hot chase of Messers Saraki and Ekweremadu, in any bid to remove them from the leadership of the Senate through constitutional process of impeachment or any other means.
Chairman of the ruling APC, Mr. Adams Oshiomole,s indignation at the prospects of the members of a minority party appropriating the leadership in the senate, where his party has majority whether slim or large is understandable, but he must appreciate that whatever the gains of an APC leadership of the senate, snatched from the incumbent holders will not be worth the fight, even as the 8th senate is in its twilight.
Senate president Saraki and his handlers should be left to bask in the moonshine of their political maneuvers and the political limelight it has so far showered on them.
There will be no better way to further the cause of Senator Saraki and his princpals than to make him look like a victim of a high-handed and desperate political witch-hunt. Senate presidency, for the ruling APC in the remaining few months of the life of the 8th senate, would not confer any meaningful political advantage or help the electoral fortune of the ruling party. It would rather, give the ruling party, an important electoral mileage, if Messers Saraki and Ekweremadu led leadership in the senate is publicly perceived to be using their vintage positions to obstruct governance, a role they would most likely relish to play. Instead of pushing to canonize them as democratic icons, tormented by a ruling party and a harsh government it produced, Messers Saraki and his senate leadership should be encouraged to ride roughshod on all known parliamentary conduct and practices to demonstrate the staying power of his political maneuvers and lead him down to political irrelevance, the well known political cost for arrogance of power.
The top priority concerns of President Buhari’s administration – securing, the country by defeating terrorism or substantially degrading it, battling down corruption to the point of considerably de-fanging it from been a serious threat to the country’s survival and recovering the economy and setting it on the path of sustainable and inclusive growth; can certainly go far with complimentary legislative collaboration but cannot be stopped, let alone reversed by hostile legislative behavior. While the administration should remain focused on these core agenda and assiduously cultivate legislative inputs to advance them, it should nonetheless be dutiful in engaging legislative collaborations but never to be seen, to indulge in any compromises to the core three-fold agenda, on which it won the electoral approval of the majority of Nigerians.
Chasing after Messers Saraki and Ekweremadu in a senate leadership tussle as the chairman of the ruling APC, Mr. Adams Oshiomole has threatened, would be a wasteful distraction from the important issues of governance, for the which the government has committed itself.
The economy is at a very low ebb, and most of the rescue measures which government has put in place are significantly correct therapies but their full effects on recovering and growing the economy is in the future, and except Nigerians understand these measures and buy into it, they would be largely vulnerable to the narratives of quick fix that has no prospect for long term and enduring solutions. Instead, of the ruling party to chase after Saraki for the take-over of the senate “palace” and its “crown,” it should focus on helping its government to win over the patience and understanding of Nigerians on the bright and future prospects of the government’s current policy to usher in, a Nigeria of sustainable economic growth, inclusive social and political order, with equal opportunities and profound sense of national identity.
The lure of political office-holding is the greatest undoing of the Nigeria political elites and therefore animates, their passions for public life, making politics to fall victim of an ignoble unpopular definition as the game of numbers. Politics is patently the struggle for values and to remain in public life without even an office but steadfast in upholding the cherished values is the greatest reward of a meaningful political life. A value in politics is the belief in a certain way or method by which the greatest interests of the majority of the people can be better served and fulfilled.
The political affront of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki is tempting enough to lure the ruling party and even the government into a hot chase, but they will be doing that, at the detriment of President Buhari’s bankable political goodwill and electoral fortune, which he needed to secure firmly; for the next phase of consolidating his vision and policy. It is much better to leave Messers Saraki and Ekweremadu alone and allow them to burn out the glow of their Pyrrhic victory in capturing the senate.
Onunaiju, a journalist is based in Abuja.