Posted by News Express | 1 October 2015 | 3,398 times
It could be tempting to package and sell the acrimonious relationship between Buhari’s Presidency and Saraki’s National Assembly as a normal political muscle-flexing which will blow over with time. This is because it is really not out of place for the Presidency and the National Assembly in any clime to be at daggers drawn for whatever reason.
But the Buhari-Saraki face-off is not likely to assume such a tenuous complexion. We should, instead, expect a long-drawn, drag-out fight which may end in a bloody nose for the government of the day.
What is at stake here? A foxy Bukola Saraki had outsmarted the overly ambitious Bola Tinubu over who should lead the National Assembly. Tinubu, having played a pivotal role in delivering his south west geo polity to the All Progressives Congress (APC) had thought that he would be the oracle that must be consulted before any decision could be taken by and in the APC. But Saraki gave him his first post-election rude shock when he emerged as the President of the Senate, contrary to Tinubu’s expectation. It was a political coup hatched and executed with clinical efficiency. The Tinubu line up was taken unawares. It lost out.
The turn of events at the Senate was no happenstance. It was programmed to be. That was why the House of Representatives followed suit. A similar scenario played out at the lower chamber. Again, those that Tinubu had lined up for choice leadership positions were edged out. In all of this, the leadership of the APC squirmed to no end. It said that those that had emerged as principal officers of the National Assembly were not the party’s choice. The party was ill at ease with the red eye that Saraki and Yakubu Dogara, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, had inflicted on it.
It was interesting, even reassuring, at that point in time that President Muhammadu Buhari did not appear interested in the drama of intrigues that was unfolding at the National Assembly. In fact, the president held that the lawmakers were at liberty to choose those who would lead them. Many applauded the president for his refusal to be on the side of imposition. But there was a snag in the president’s disposition. It gave the impression that Tinubu was alone; that the president had no sympathies for the choices and preferences of a man who helped him in no small measure to become president. Such an unconscionable abandonment of Tinubu would have, on its own, constituted difficult times for APC and the Buhari presidency.
Considerations such as this may have led to the president’s abandonment of his earlier position. Thus, weeks later, the president, it would appear, woke up from a certain slumber. For some reason, he has come to think or feel that the set-up at the Senate was not in the best interest of his party. And so, the president, like Tinubu, is now up in arms against the emergence of Saraki and Ike Ekweremadu as president and Deputy President of the senate respectively.
Since then, the National Assembly, particularly the Senate, has been sitting on edge. Saraki and Ekweremadu have been accused of forgery. They were alleged to have tampered with the standing rules of the Senate in order to pave way for their emergence. Both men have since dismissed the allegation as mere hogwash. The matter is still before the courts for determination.
But the battleground has since shifted. Saraki’s detractors have dug into his past and are raking up muck. They are alleging that he was guilty of false declaration of assets when he emerged as the governor of Kwara State in 2003. A few weeks ago, Saraki was brought before the Code of Conduct Tribunal. He was docked and then released on bail. He is standing trial for the declaration of assets he made more than 12 years ago. Interestingly, Saraki has never been out of government since then. Yet, no one ever picked holes in his asset declaration until now.
Ordinarily, it would appear that the Saraki trial is a fallout of the anti-corruption posturing of Buhari. But no one is deceived by the make-belief. In fact, the Saraki trial is being interpreted as an invidious attempt to humiliate the president of the senate. His detractors have been having a good laugh since he was docked. They look forward to his indictment by the tribunal, a development that will strip him of his exalted position as president of the senate. That is the unfolding drama.
But while Saraki’s persecutors are having a ball, the senate is scandalised by all this. Two days ago, the senate expressed its disgust over the political trial of Saraki. It pointed out that the ongoing witch hunt poses a great danger to democratic governance in the country.
I had posited and I still do so here that the Saraki saga will not blow over soon. I say so because the issue at stake borders on who says what and who gets what in the APC. Tinubu, the man who stoked the raging fire, must have been worried that foreign elements who meandered into APC from external parties are scheming to take over the control of the party. His worry and those of others who have sympathy for his sentiments must have been accentuated by the fact that Saraki and Dogara belong to the splinter group in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that revolted against the party and defected to the APC. Now, the worry is that PDP defectors who were not a part of the original plan and design of APC may be taking over the party in no time if their flapping wings are not clipped. In fact, the thinking in some APC quarters is that the Sarakis and Dogaras of the party still have their soul and spirit in PDP but are only cohabiting with the APC bodily. The original owners of the APC are obviously ill at ease with this marriage of convenience.
But the PDP defectors like Saraki who helped to swell the camp of the APC have a ready retort. They hold that the APC could not have grabbed power if it did not have the backing of those of them that left the PDP for the APC. In other words, the APC, as originally constituted, would not have made it alone. It took the decapitation wrought on the PDP by the defectors for APC to rise to national prominence. In this wise, the defectors feel that they have as much stake in the party as any other person or group. This is the bone of contention. It is the point of departure between the initiators of the APC project and the latter day joiners who gave the party the leverage it needed to get to power. Both divides are looking at each other eyeball to eyeball. Who will blink first? Who will carry the day?
I predict again, as I have earlier done, that the battle will not end soon. It promises to be long-drawn. But a winner may not easily emerge. In fact, there may not be any winner at the end of the day. Instead, both tendencies may have something to lose. But the ultimate loser will be the APC. At the end of the war of supremacy, the party would have suffered heavy bruises. But I do not see the joiners of Saraki’s mould seizing the APC from its original owners. Rather, they will engage in another round of alignments and alliances. But that will be outside the the APC fold. Should this happen, APC will become a shadow of itself. It may not even be as appealing as it was in its original form. Another way of putting it is to say that APC will go to seed. This development, when it takes place, will provide the building blocks upon which the 2019 elections will be erected. Time, certainly, will have all the answers to all the permutations.
•This piece by Dr. Amanze Obi originally appeared in his column BROKEN TONGUES in today’s edition of Daily Sun. Amanze Obi can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org
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