The defeat of ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2015 presidential election shocked the observing world because it was unprecedented. Even the victorious erstwhile opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) was no less shocked. Hence, APC, similarly in power, did not seem to believe its new status, at least, at the leadership level, such that the party became the object of ridicule by dissident members, specifically at the National Assembly, who clandestinely distributed leadership posts in the legislature among themselves, in total disregard and complete subversion of the party’s nominees for the posts.
The rest is history but, briefly, the rebels not only chewed more than was reasonable but also did not know when or where to and whatever electoral prospects they threatened was completely crushed in the 2019 elections. As if icing of its cake, APC thereby returned as a political force. But instead of reclaiming its ground, the same APC commenced whingeing and wallowing in self-pity that its tormentor, outgoing Senate President Bukunola Saraki, back in PDP, is hell-bent on influencing the election of new officers of the National Assembly. APC should be ashamed of its seeming helplessness even though national leader Adams Oshiomhole (has) rushed in with some repair work by rallying his troops. It can only be hoped that Oshiomhole has saved his party from repeat humiliation.
In any case, by crying out, what did APC expect ordinary Nigerians to do? To stop Saraki from a legitimate political pursuit? The duty of the electorate is to give mandate to the APC or the PDP in electing deserving respective members into government. How the ruling party retains elected members of national or state houses of assembly in its fold is the responsibility of that party. Or, to put it more directly, what moral has the APC to moan about its members in National Assembly being influenced by outside forces (presumably Saraki) when the same APC continues or is prepared to embrace elected members of national/state houses of assembly crossing the carpet from opposition PDP?
Yes, the APC is basking in the glory of its victory in the 2019 presidential election but such basking is admirable and sustains only as long as APC commands the firm loyalty of its members on such scale that not only will they abide by party decisions but they will, whatever the temptation of filthy lucre, also be fiercely loyal to their party. Can Oshiomhole guarantee these of his party’s members in the National Assembly? While still on the shifty character and disloyalty of APC’s members of National Assembly, the question arises on how the party’s state governors ensure military barracks mentality of their respective state house of assembly members who not only obey at all times but never risk any complaint? This is not to say APC members of National Assembly should necessarily turn the chamber into echo booster for Aso Rock. But at the same time, must the National Assembly be a breeding ground for mutineers against their ruling party? Why don’t PDP National Assembly members make themselves available for purposes of the enemy to destabilise the PDP?
Why should APC leadership be getting wet at the prospects of its National Assembly members falling prey to graft for undermining top party decisions already endorsed by collective party leadership, including President Muhammadu Buhari, national chairman Oshiomhole for the National Executive and National Working Committees? It shows the level of or lack of discipline in the party. If a recently electorally disgraced president of the Senate could be still conceded by the APC leadership to be so influential, from outside the party, to determine the who and who isn’t APC officers in the National Assembly, then the APC is not a party or, if a party, it must instantly read out the riot act, to achieve cohesiveness.
Where in the democratic world does a non-party member influence the emergence of public office holders for a ruling party? For some four years, Democrats in the United States lost control of the House of Representatives with Nancy Pelosi as Speaker. In 2018, the party regained control of the House and there was no argument on the Speaker, the same 78-year-old Nancy Pelosi. That was party discipline. Here then is the challenge for APC on the same issue of discipline. In 2015, known members of APC collaborated with their political enemies to subvert the party’s nominees as office holders in the National Assembly. After the 2015 mutiny by APC National Assembly members, the same fellows are today claiming legitimacy on vying for the same posts on the platform of APC, as if nothing happened. APC national leadership must bare its fangs by disqualifying all such traitors, even if reformed traitors, from vying for the National Assembly posts. APC would thereby be issuing a public notice to future would-be mutineers that indiscipline would not, or indeed, no longer be condoned.
On the other hand, APC must reward loyalty. In 2015, after APC’s nominees for National Assembly posts were subverted by some of their colleagues, the victims, poor fellows, remained loyal to the party. This, therefore, is the time for such fellows to be rewarded by APC for their loyalty. APC must re-nominate all such fellows so as to induce and sustain others for identical loyalty in the future. It is a challenge for the APC, unless of course, any of the 2015 APC nominees for National Assembly posts can be faulted. In the absence of such, APC must reward the fellows.
In politics, it is not desirable (not to say secure) for the executive to be prepared to work with “ANYBODY” in the National Assembly as Buhari seemed to self-console in 2015 after the sabotage of quite a number of APC legislators. The same Buhari, for almost his entire first term tenure of four years, had a bitter taste of such uncomfortable partnership as he (Buhari) was almost dislodged from Aso Rock by the same “ANYBODY” in the National Assembly. Furthermore, it is not without reason that a governing party fights for the control of the legislature. This is to ensure smooth passage of legislations. Hence, the party in control of parliament in democratic parts of the world also, as of right, produces leaders in the legislature. Nowhere, except in Nigeria, does the opposition party produce the Speaker, Senate President, deputy speaker, deputy senate president, leader of the house or deputy leader of the house. The best that can go to opposition members in National Assembly are chairmanship or membership of some of the various committees and, even then, never at the expense of the majority party.
On a note of humour, after clobbering Senate President Saraki down from national/international political/diplomatic relevance, what did APC expect? Any idea that Saraki, especially at his age, would go home quietly must be naïve. Hence, the major legitimate target for him (Saraki) is the APC. Was chairman Oshiomhole not demanding that Saraki, while still in office, must surrender the Senate presidency? Why moan now about Saraki’s continued political potency? That is the implication of trying to rouse public sentiments (and it is mere sentiments) in desperation to ensure only APC’s nominees are elected to National Assembly posts. On this score, APC’s job could have been easier if the party placed emphasis on loyalty and indeed extracted written pledge to that effect in sponsoring candidates, including Muhammadu Buhari, for the 2019 elections. Saraki must, therefore, have been delighted by the fear of him unconsciously betrayed by the APC.
Whatever reservations about the PDP, the party has no problem with its members, including the truants among them. At least, so it seems. Politics is not for the unwary, the naïve, the complacent or those who can’t take responsibility for their tactlessness. Fela Anikulapo-Kuti must have had politics in mind when he philosophised in one of his lyrics that “me, I no be gentleman.” APC leaders will do well to listen to that piece, which remains evergreen. Saraki may be down today but it will be politically/electorally suicidal of APC to count him out. In fact, APC, somewhat unintelligently is complimenting him with continued focus as undiminished politically.
Again, APC national chairman Adams Oshiomhole seems supremely confident that no (opposition) PDP member would bag any National Assembly leadership post. Does this man realise his self-confidence is risky being wagered on Nigerian politicians? To be on the safe side, members of the National Assembly and the APC are better advised that elections for top National Assembly posts be determined either by individual voice vote or open division, the only system which saved Nigeria from Obasanjo’s attempted life presidency through the third term plot. Thanks to the then Senate President Ken Nnamani.
African Action Congress governorship candidate in Rivers State, Biokpomabo Awara, and even Nigerians might have been shocked by the sudden resignation of his running mate Akpo Bomba Yeeh, even before the announcement of the result fixed for sometime in April. Without any prejudice to his fate, Mr. Awara should cast his mind back to 2007. General Muhammadu Buhari was pursuing the trial of his election petition against late President Umaru Yar’Adua who won the election. Suddenly, Edwin Ume-Ezeoke, who was Buhari’s running mate in the election, dissociated himself from Buhari’s petition. An offspring of Ume-Ezeoke was given an appointment inside Aso Rock. Mr. Awara should, therefore, feel honoured in being put in good company with Buhari.