‘Treachery’, ‘Disloyalty’, “Monumental act of indiscipline’, ‘Betrayal’ , ‘Ridicule’, and ‘obstacles for the new administration.” These were harsh words used by the Publicity Secretary of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Lai Mohammed to react to the election of Senator Bukola Saraki and Yakubu Dogara (both members of the APC) as President of the Senate and Speaker of the Federal House of Assembly respectively, on Tuesday.
On a day the APC should be rejoicing that two of its members emerged leaders of the National Assembly, the party is rather in a sorrowful and mournful mood; crying foul like a bereaved mother whose children just died tragically. The offence of the two winners, Saraki and Dogara, is that they were not the anointed candidates of the party for the posts they just clinched, as the APC, a few days earlier through ‘mock’ elections, announced Ahmed Lawal and Femi Gbajabiamila as its choices for the coveted office of President of the Nigerian Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives respectively.
Lai Mohammed’s lamentation is misplaced, unwarranted, uncalled for, and odious; just as the victory of the duo of Saraki and Dogara mocks the ‘mock’ elections conducted by the leadership of the APC for contenders for the offices.
First, it was the same APC that benefited from a similar scenario during the Seventh National Assembly when it directed its members to support former Speaker Tambuwal, who was not the preferred candidate of the then ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Don’t let us forget the fact that APC’s mock elections were boycotted by both the camps of Saraki and Dogara, but in spite of this, the APC’s leadership sanctioned the said polls instead of calling both parties for a truce. Now that the unofficial mock election has backfired, the party’s spokesperson is crying blue murder. The fact is that the APC has just reaped from its past misdeeds, including the indiscipline it sowed during the 2011 National Assembly leadership elections.
Second, perhaps still basking in the euphoria of its victory in the presidential election, the APC failed to put its house in order in a timely manner, leaving its federal legislators disorganised up to the inauguration of the National Assembly. It is more disheartening that on the day the federal legislators were supposed to be inaugurated, the APC leadership decided to convene an emergency meeting several kilometres away to deliberate upon and decide on a matter that could be decisively resolved in the chamber of the Assembly.
The APC federal legislators and its leadership displayed unprecedented political naivety and opportunism by convening a meeting to coincide with the inauguration of the Eighth National Assembly. For God’s sake, every legislators was supposed to report to the National Assembly on the 9th of June, 2015, rather than report to the International Conference Centre to meet political godfathers! Lai Mohammed and his cohorts should be told that the National Assembly is greater than the trumpeted party supremacy.
Third, the victory of the candidates endorsed by the PDP for the leadership of the Assembly marks the beginning of the return of the PDP into power at the federal level. Since the APC has so far not shown the ability to manage high-level power politics and relations, the PDP is gradually cashing in to inch closer to federal power. I would not be surprised if APC’s internal wrangling and leadership dissensions result in more electoral loses in the future.
Lastly, the success of Senator Bukola Saraki’s rebellion against his party’s wishes and choice reinforces the well-known view that Nigerian political parties are mere platforms for political aggrandisement and the fulfilment of personal ambitions rather than platforms for advancing ideological interests or the public good. The new President was a PDP governor who decamped to the APC over squabbles on power sharing and resource allocation in the PDP. He had decamped to the APC not necessarily because he is a ‘progressive’, whatever the word means in the Nigeria political context. Now that he has fulfilled his ambition with the support of his former friends in the PDP, I would not be surprised if Senate President Bukola Saraki decamps back to the PDP in the near future; not with the name calling and denigration he is suffering now in the hands of the APC’s leadership.