- ‘Senate threat to remove Osinbajo, an invitation to anarchy’
By Omoniyi Salaudeen
there is now a befuddling dimension to the face-off between the executive and the National Assembly over the confirmation of the appointment of Ibrahim Magu as Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). The seeming confusion is coming out of the conflicting responses from the executive to the senate threat not to confirm any further nomination until the Acting President Yemi Osinbajo withdraws his statement saying that National Assembly lacks the powers to confirm nominations from the President.
Citing section 171 of the Constitution, Osinbajo, at the commissioning of the zonal office of the EFCC in Kaduna last Thursday, had insisted that Magu would continue to function for as long as he remains the Acting President and President Muhammadu Buhari’s mandate as President subsists. But in what appears to be a house divided against itself, the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, stoked further controversy into the executive/legislature impasse by making an open declaration that Osinbajo did not consult the Federal Executive Council before he gave his opinion on Magu’s matter.
In a quick reaction to the latest development, some concerned stakeholders, who spoke with Sunday Sun, attributed the lingering face-off to lack of discipline within the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe, commenting on the issue, condemned the party for playing politics with the wellbeing of the Nigerian people. His words: “What is going on is a power game among those who want to control the machinery of the APC. And the security agents should investigate who and who are involved in this game because it disturbs the progress and future of the country.”
He noted that the structure of the APC was not strong enough to ensure discipline within its members. “It all boils down to lack of respect for party discipline. Nigerians voted for the APC as a political party not those individuals. But the structure of the party is not strong enough to save itself from this sort of embarrassment. In the party’s constitution, there is what is called the national caucus which comprises all these gladiators. That is one avenue where they can iron out all these issues. They (lawmakers) are just showing disrespect they have for the party. Besides, there is interference from outsiders. If one looks deeply, the crisis is not unconnected with the infighting within the APC bigwigs. Otherwise, I don’t see how the issue of Magu can degenerate to this level. It shows lack of seriousness on the part of APC. They have to respect the view of Nigeria that gave them the opportunity to manage the affairs of the country on their behalf. As far as I am concerned, it is about the race to 2019. It shows the level of indiscipline within APC leadership. And it is unfortunate,” he fumed.
The former minister of works and housing further stressed the need for the party to rise to the challenge of the present situation, saying that time is fast running out on the Buhari administration. “The party should take control and call the bluff of everybody. There is no more time to waste. By next year now, they will begin to blame the PDP for their inability to perform. They must make sure they salvage the situation. Time is no longer on their side. There is stagnation of development; there is stagnation in the overall wellbeing of Nigerians. Poverty is on the increase. The national plan will not be able to lead Nigeria out of the woods because there is nothing the executive can do without the concurrence of the National Assembly,” he added.
The presidential candidate of the United Progressive Party (UPP), Chief Checkwas Okorie, in his own reaction to the impasse, described the action of the senate as undesirable especially at this period of the economic predicament confronting the nation. “As far as I am concerned, legislature has not impressed me in their handling of this matter. If there is any doubt as to the correct interpretation of any section of the law with regards to the powers of either the executive or legislature, the place to go to for interpretation is the Supreme Court. And since it is the executive that is insisting on retaining Magu, it is the legislature that should go to the Supreme Court as a complainant. But it seems the legislature is more interested in matters that are within the purview of the executive,” he said.
Meanwhile, speculation is rife over the alleged plot by the senate to instigate an unprovoked crisis that would precipitate Osinbajo’s impeachment to pave way for the emergence of Senator Bukola Saraki as Acting President.
Asked to comment on the insinuation, Okorie warned that any such move would be a direct invitation to anarchy. “That will be a clear invitation to anarchy of unprecedented kind, an anarchy that will sweep both the executive and legislature out of power, an anarchy that will bring Nigeria to its knees. That will be the most insensitive thing for anybody to do at this period in time. I don’t think they will even contemplate doing that. And, of course, impeachment is not done overnight. By the time they serve impeachment notice, they will see that it is the most unpopular decision they would ever have taken. They should be able to feel the barometer or heartbeat of Nigerians to know that people are not satisfied with the type of government we are getting from APC. And the legislature is controlled by the APC. An attempt by APC to take Nigerians for granted will spell doom for the party,” he concluded.
Also speaking in the same vein, a former minister of transport and chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Babatope Ebenezer, said: “APC as a party represents nothing but confusion. It has become apparent that they don’t mean well for this country. Now, we have seen the evidence of what APC represents in Nigeria: confusion. The hunger in the country now knows no bound. People are hungry; the economy has collapsed under them. Yet they are just playing empty politics. By the special grace of God, PDP will flush them out of power in 2019.”
A member of the APC, who pleaded anonymity, accused the Senate President Bukola Saraki of selfish political ambition and warned his cohorts among the lawmakers not to plunge the country into crisis. “Since the Code of Conduct Tribunal dismissed the false asset declaration case leveled against Bukola Saraki, he has suddenly become a thorn in the flesh of the executive. At little or no provocation, the Senate has always threatened to take on the executive. Reading from his body language, you will know that he is nursing an ambition for the 2019. Without prejudice to anybody’s right to aspire, I think they should respect the wish of the party and the electorate who elected them to that position. Our party is not unaware of all that is going on in the Senate. At the appropriate time, the leadership will clip their wings. And I want to warn that they should not overstep their bounds with the move they are making against the acting president. They should not plunge the country into crisis,” he told Sunday Sun.