THE circumstances that surround the emergence of National Assembly presiding officers is testing the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC to the limits.
That Senator Bukola Saraki and Hon. Yakubu Dogara, emerged Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives respectively against the wish of the majority of those in the commanding height of the party has continued to roil hardliners in the APC, who perhaps may not be assuaged until scapegoats are made of someone or persons. More intolerable to those who have refused to be consoled in the party is the emergence of PDP’s Senator Ike Ekweremadu as Deputy Senate President, a situation that has diminished APC’s grip on the National Assembly leadership caucus.
Fact is that Saraki and Dogara are illustrious enough for the current positions they hold, but a mock election by the party that led to the emergence of Senator Ahmed Lawan and Honourable Femi Gbajiabiamila as the party’s consensus candidates for the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House, respectively as well as for their deputies which Saraki and Dogara spurned is advanced as rebellion and anti-party activities against the duo.
While a resolve of legislators to ensconce the parliament from exterior manipulations by opting to elect leaders after their own heart is not a novelty in the system, perceptive watchers can hardly agree that Lawan and Gbajabiamila can truly be designated as the APC’s consensus candidates, given that members of the Saraki group, with its numerical pre-eminence kept their distance from the mock election, ditto for the Dogara group.
The paradox is that hawks in the APC think that internal democracy is good for the party, but fatal to peace and progress for the National Assembly.
The inherent flaw in the mock election, largely begot the unforeseen offensive that trumped the APC on the floor of the National Assembly on June 9. The ambition of those who succeeded in grabbing the presiding slots in the National Assembly spiralled out of control, even a scheduled intervention of Muhammadu Buhari, the ultimate leader of the party, President and Commander-in-Chief counted for less.
It was no joy for the party and its admirers that it was a trifle ridiculed by the conspiracy of the overly ambitious in its fold, but good news is that the Nigerian democracy continues to mature and get further enriched by the good, the bad and the ugly that happen and are bound to happen in the political space. By their action, though injurious to peace and harmony in the party, the legislators may have in the same breath, made yet another strong statement towards operating without let or inhibitions.
It is helpful that the APC apparatchik quickly stood down from belching fire. Reward and punishment is necessary in any unit or system that is designed to progress along productive and cohesive curve, but when certain push goes a little over-the-top, it could blowback and set any unit on implosive trajectory. Kudos to APC leadership for the savvy, it has so far applied in navigating the treacherous path to assertiveness, peace and cohesion after the jolt.
Hawks in the party push that head or heads must roll in the APC over June 9. This piece is as much equally about whose head or heads should or should not roll in the party over June 9. Paramount is that the APC should tread with measured steps in scape-goating anyone or applying the rod because as the cliché goes, the nose should not be cut off just to spite the face; and rather than the selective blame game against just the person and leadership of John Odigie-Oyegun, the entire party as an entity and all its members, who were down for a no zoning principle for the presiding positions in the National Assembly should all accept that they are all as guilty as Cain for the tacky episode that was APC-led National Assembly leadership election.
Nigerians waited to hear loud dissenting voices to the scattershot approach the party and most actors in it took in evolving leaders for the high stake leadership positions in the National Assembly without hearing much. The bitter lessons of leaving adrift, serious issues that ought to be properly streamlined should be the collective pain and regret of the party.
Oyegun should not be made accountable for a matter that was screwed up in the party by just everybody. Collective decision denotes collective responsibility. Making a scapegoat of one individual for a collective slip up is bare-faced victimisation and witch-hunt. A party chairman is a soft target for all manners of attacks from outside and within, but when the vitriol is orchestrated to just make a scapegoat of the man on the hot seat, those who watch wouldn’t just know whether to cry or laugh at the shenanigans in the Nigerian political space.
The change Nigeria celebrates today was driven by Oyegun. He marshalled the army of the opposition to victory in one of the most tempestuous general elections in the country’s annals. He wasn’t chosen as the leader of an opposition coalition by happenstance-the cap for a level-headed, team-player fitted him. His party needed victory, yet he fought with finesse, knowing where the lines are drawn between flippancy and what is politically correct. Oyegun’s refinement, perfectly complemented Buhari’s charm to gave the party image uplift in the hearts of Nigerians. Whether as a governor or permanent secretary in the federal civil service, or party national chairman, Oyegun delivers the goods and in a fashion that has remained unimpeachable.
The least reward, hard work and illustrious track record should attract is a pat on the back not calumny.
Mr. Haruna Mustapha, a civil society activisit, wrote from Lagos.