The outcome of the of the National Assembly has caused a major schism within the ruling All Progressives Congress. OKECHUKWU JOMBO writes that Senator Bukola Saraki’s emergence as Senate President is more than just a mere revolt against the APC’s order, which is a recalling decimal, but the survival of the new PDP block within the APC.
The emergence of Senators Bukola Saraki and Ike Ekweremadu as Senate President and Deputy against the wishes of the leaders of the All Progressives Congress, APC, has become a recalling decimal that is worthy of note in Nigerian democracy.
In 1999, the senate witnessed the same scenario whereby the Peoples Democratic Party’s preferred candidate, late Senator Chuba Okadigbo, was defeated by late Senator Evans Enwerem in cohort with the then opposition parties the Alliance for Democracy AD and the defunct All Peoples Party, APP.
This was possible even when the PDP were in overwhelming majority because the then President Olusegun Obasanjo supported Enwerem and gave out sufficient funds to both the opposition senators and some PDP senators to sway them to do his bidding. The rest is now history.
The difference between what played out in 1999 and 2015 is that the whole scene played out in the same party as both the Senate President and his Deputy were in PDP, the then majority party, unlike in the Saraki era where the Deputy Ekweremadu is from the minority party.
Reason adduced to this, may be because of the slight difference between the two parties, unlike the PDP era where the majority was very clear cut and could do whatever it wanted. Another reason was because the APC did not agree within itself and as a house against itself cannot stand.
To make matters worse, APC will require two third majority to impeach either Saraki or Ekweremadu but this is a herculean task as the party does not have that number. APC has 59 Senators while PDP has 49, a position which makes it difficult by either party to garner two third votes to consider impeachment. The two parties will need each other to get two third where it is needed.
The APC should learn to balance power effectively and this should be used from the onset as the party gradually consolidates its position at the federal level. It will be recalled that APC emerged last year, after three major opposition political parties came together and agreed to forge ahead politically. Apart from the defunct Congress for Progressives Change, CPC, Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, and All Nigerian Peoples Party, ANPP, some elements within the All Progressives Grand Alliance led by Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, were all involved in the formation of what they tagged the mega party. The political parties that formed APC conceded that none of them had the capacity to upstage PDP if they continue to go into election without pulling forces together.
Thus, the new party was ‘midwived’ through these political combinations and gradually forged its way ahead as a strong opposition party in the county confronting the ruling People Democratic Party, PDP, in all spheres and campaigned for votes from Nigerians with its slogan “Change”.
The party eventually succeeded in winning the presidential election, the first victory by opposition against a sitting government in Nigeria. The presidential candidate of APC and now president, General Muhammdau Buhari had contested for the presidency three times earlier, in 2003, 2007, 2011 and now, 2015 which he won after working with the coalition comprising his CPC, the ANPP, ACN and the new PDP which pulled out of PDP after the party’s convention and decided to merge with opposition.
Presently the defunct CPC has produced the President from North West, ACN has produced the Vice president from South West while the third group ANPP produced the National Chairman from South-South leaving the fourth group, the New PDP, which in the opinion of many political analysts, should produce the Senate President. The position, they believe, should go to Dr Bukola Saraki to balance political appointments among the power blocks that formed the APC. Expectedly, member of APGA that joined the APC are expecting to be compensated with the position of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF.
From the forgoing, the emergence of Senator Bukola Saraki as the President of the Senate has completed the sharing of power between the three biggest blocks that make up the APC.
This is natural justice and to think otherwise is wishful thinking. For anybody to think that the new-PDP block will sit and watch what belongs to it taken away, is political fallacy.
Saraki has proven himself not only as a Governor that ruled Kwara State for eight years; he also led the Governors Forum efficiently and effectively, elevating it to higher status in the country. He showed great character and maturity, moulding the forum together. That there were no divisions in the forum, proved he was a great leader capable of building bridges across political divides. Such clout and charisma are essential qualities for a man who will lead the legislative arm of the government.
Also, it is on record that the doctrine of necessity which resolved the political logjam that came up during the sickness and eventual death of late President Yar’ Adua was muted by the Saraki–led Governors’ forum. He eventually led the governors to the Senate floor to ensure that the proposal saw the light of day and eventually the then Vice President Goodluck Jonathan became Acting President and later President and Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed forces. Earlier Senator Saraki had served as special assistant on Budget to former President Olusegun Obasanjo where he equally distinguished himself.
Speaking on this issue recently, a respected columnist and publisher of Ovation Magazine, Mr. Dele Momodu said, “Saraki appeals to a lot of younger folks because the next Senate President is going to have maybe about 20 or more senators as Governors; so, we need a man who understands them very well. I remember when he was the Chairman of Nigeria Governors Forum; he was able to hold the forum very well. He was able to carry his colleagues along in policies and in so many other ways.”
Furthermore, Saraki’s emergence has given hope to PDP that their rise back to power is not far from now and all they need is to focus and re-energise the party to accommodate the fallout that is going to come from the infighting that is sure to come from APC.
The new PDP block within the APC is a good place to start their hunting from. It has already been established that the ACN block that is currently laying claim to the ownership of the party APC do not trust them. They have made it clear severally in various ways. They ganged up and defeated both Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and former Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso in preference to President Muhammed Buhari from the CPC block in the primaries held in Lagos. They made sure they nominated an ACN puppet to the office of Vice President and would have succeeded also if Senator Ahmed Lawan of ANPP block had been imposed as Senate President. So what actually is happening to the All Progressives Party, APC, is the infighting between the blocks that makes up the party to which PDP should take advantage of and raise their game.