Yesterday: “I must say that this historic development (Tambuwal’s defection to APC with Speakership) means that our democracy is growing by the day and it is dynamic…. We think that having the head of the legislature from the opposition party makes for a balanced setting in government and it’s good for democracy” APC National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed (Thisday, October 29, 2014).
Today: “If you understand how the National Assembly works and the kind of power the leadership has, you will understand the danger of what happened yesterday. For instance today, we can no longer talk about having leadership caucus in the National Assembly today because the leadership is made up of both the PDP and the APC”. APC National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed (Channels TV, June 10, 2015)
The 360 Degrees turn by the All Progressives Congress (APC) from their original stand on bipartisan leadership in the National Assembly in less than eight months and the drama playing out in Abuja since the inauguration of the 8th National Assembly have further confounded those who thought our change had come.
As in George Orwell’s Animal Farm where the pigs (the impostor leaders) now walk on two legs, party, and gulp exotic rums with their so-called human oppressors, it is now difficult to tell the difference between the APC and the much-demonised Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Those who branded it the All Pretenders Congress, appear to be having the last laugh, for if it is all about the interest of the masses the apocalyptic battles for control would have been unnecessary.
With a handful of puppet lawmakers and ethnically bigoted section of the press to boot, some puppeteer party leaders feign ignorance of the difference between a party’s constitution and the Nigerian Constitution or between a National Assembly of Nigeria and the APC party office. They would therefore not accept the outcome of the June 9th elections for the positions of the presiding officers of the National Assembly because it did not go their way.
The first salvo culminating in the present crisis in the National Assembly was fired by APC’s National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed. According to him: “Senator Bukola and Hon. Dogara are not the candidates of the APC and a majority of its National Assembly members-elect for the positions of Senate President and House Speaker…. The party is supreme and its interest is superior to that of its individual members”. For those who refused to tow party lines, “There can be no higher level of treachery, disloyalty and insincerity within any party”.
Unfortunately, APC leaders are coming to equity with unclean hands. They have not told Nigerians what portion of the constitution empowers their party to impose presiding officers on the National Assembly- as though members elected on other party platforms have no say in who leads them. Ironically, these proponents of party are mainly the same brains behind the emergence of Hon.
Aminu Tambuwal as the Speaker of the House of Representatives against PDP’s will. The Action Congress (ACN) elements of what we know today as APC practically coerced even the South West House of Reps Members to vote against their own daughter and sister, Hon. Mulikat Adeola-Akande because only one crock must crow in the entire Yorubaland.
However, it is the emergence of Senator Ike Ekweremadu as the Deputy Senate President that truly unmasked APC’s inconsistencies and duplicity. Not surprisingly, the same people who defended Tambuwal’s are fighting Ekweremadu with the cudgels of intimidation, blackmail, media terrorism, and all manner of harassment. But they have obviously met their match in the young man who doesn’t even seem to care a hoot.
In addition to Lai Mohammed’s enthusiastic defence of bipartisan National Assembly leadership captured in the opening quote, he insisted that “Those who are saying this has not happened before and that Tambuwal should step aside as Speaker do not have the backing of history and the constitution”.
The Minority Leader at the time, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila declared: “We are proud to acknowledge that the Speaker remains not only a Member of the House of Representatives, but also its Speaker. This position is consistent with the law and practice in a presidential system of government and Nigeria is no different. For the avoidance of doubt, the Constitution requires only that the Speaker or Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives shall be elected by members of that House from among themselves”.
Even President Mohammadu Buhari was not to be outdone. He enthused: “It was only yesterday I admit that I asked what profession is he and I was told he was a lawyer, I said no wonder. We will like to thank Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal for what he did yesterday. We were overwhelmed. Taking such a remarkable risk and sending everybody on holidays till December is an achievement”.
In addition, just a few days before the inauguration of the 8th Senate, the APC helped their members to emerge as Speakers in Plateau and Benue States Houses of Assembly, notwithstanding the fact that the PDP were in the majority.
Yet, they would not allow Nigerians peace because a PDP Senator became Deputy Senate President, even when the PDP had the opportunity to elect one of their own as the Senate Number One. Only a few like the National Deputy Spokesman of the APC, Timi Frank has summoned the courage to say the truth.
In his widely transcribed appearance on the African Independent Television (AIT) on 29th June this year, he said: “On the issue of how Ekweremadu emerged as the Deputy Senate President, for God’s sake, PDP felt that, well, we have been able to give them the Senate Presidency unanimously. We are not trying to be greedy. We are trying to respect democracy. They could have nominated themselves to be Senate President and Deputy Senate President; and you cannot take that from them.
“We should thank PDP for what they did, for being democratic. They know they are not the ruling party, so they respected themselves by making sure an APC Senate President emerged. They unanimously gave their support to Saraki as we only had about seven or eight APC Senators in the Senate as at that time.
“One of the APC Senators that was present contested alongside Ekweremadu and lost. Not that they just asked Ekweremadu to be the Deputy Senate President. No! It was live on TV. PDP was more in number, so, they voted for their own. At the end of the day, Ekweremadu emerged as the Deputy President of the Senate. My party caused the downfall, why we lost the Deputy Senate Presidency.
We don’t need to be blaming Ekweremadu and so forth. If it were anybody from my party or even myself, I would take advantage of the situation that was on ground”.
But rather than be grateful as Timi Frank advised them, some APC leaders are deliberately clutching at every imaginary straw to make the National assembly ungovernable. The alleged forgery of the Senate Standing Rule being promoted by Senator Kabir Marafa and his co-travelers is just one of their monkeyshines.
As far as records can show, the National Assembly has always produced Standing Rules at the beginning of each National Assembly. The Rules of the previous Senate can only be part of the Rules of the new Senate to the extent that the management of the National Assembly reproduces them. So, what the Unity Forum and their falconers deliberately call a forged copy of Senate Rule is a new document strictly for the 8th Senate, amendable by the 8th Senate, and to end with the 8th Senate.
If Marafa and his puppeteers insist that the 2015 Senate Rule is invalid; that the 8th Senate was invalidly inaugurated; and that its presiding officers were illegally elected, why did they submit themselves to be inaugurated on 10th June after missing out the first day 9th June? They that the Senate leadership is illegal, yet they insist that APC National Chairman’s letter imposing their members as principal officers must be read by the same supposedly illegal Senate leadership. Again, how come they want to be principal officers of a supposedly illegally inaugurated Senate?
Meanwhile, the media propaganda to run Ekweremadu out of office only appears to be making the man even more popular. Was Ekweremadu still a Senator or Deputy Senate President between June 4th when his second tenure in that office ended and when he was re-inaugurated on 9th June? How does what transpired within an interregnum that he was out of office concern him? Ekweremadu’s recontesting that position was by mere chance. So, why would Mark or Ekweremadu change the Rule for the APC to benefit from? It all sounds idiotic.
So, let us just say the truth and shame the Devil- what the members of the Senate Unity Forum want are principal officers positions and juicy committees. But that can only come through constructive engagement and lobbying, which is the practice, the world over. Subterfuge, noise making, blackmails, and trying to coerce their colleagues with tyrannical external influences won’t help them. Those who come to equity must come with clean hands- and possibly a pure heart too.