NASS: Between Imposed And Democratic Candidates

Source: Dr. Oludayo Tade
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The triumph of a group of Senators dubbed ‘Like minds’ in the National Assembly elections which led to the emergence of Senator Bukola Saraki as Senate President and Honourable Yakubu Dogara as Speaker, House of Representatives respectively are welcome developments.

The All Progressive Congress (APC) leadership must have underestimated the political sagacity of people it allied with to chase the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) out of power or is it that the APC leaders are bad students of history? History has played a major role in the 2015 elections.

History worked for President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 elections after past failures. He won the elections by working with previous ‘enemies’ across party lines and regions to emerge victorious although this electoral feat also rode on his historical anti-corruption stance when he held sway under the military government.

It was history that made Bukola Saraki (Kwara Central) of the Saraki political dynasty in Kwara state emerge as the President of the Senate against the preferred candidate of the party Senator Ahmed Lawan (Yobe North). Funny enough, the image maker of the APC, Lai Mohammed described both Saraki and Dogara as ‘treacherous and disloyal’ party members. With such a comment, the APC has shown itself as lacking respect for democratic emergence of leaders.

In 2011, when the House of Representatives Speakership position was zoned to the southwestern part of the country by the PDP, the Action Congress of Nigeria which has now metamorphosed into the All Progressives Congress (APC) worked with then Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal to thwart the chances of Southwest and Mulikat Akande Adeola to emerge speaker. This informal arrangement eventually culminated in the kind of representation of the 7th House of Representatives and their stance on issues from the executive.

Although Tambuwal claimed to be a PDP member, he romanced publicly with the opposition and worked as enemy within against the party that brought him to power (PDP). While he shunned meetings of his party, he routinely attended those organized by the opposition. He worked from within to weaken the PDP to the delight of the APC leadership. About same time, publicity secretary of APC, Alhaji Lai Mohamed was the guest at the Oyo State Nigerian Union of Journalists Guest Forum sometimes after the emergence of Tambuwal as the speaker.

He was asked by journalists why His party supported Tambuwal and not Mulikat that would favour the Yoruba nation. Lai Mohammed’s response was that his party could not support an enemy who would later use the ‘federal might’ against it since the party was aiming at defeating the PDP in Oyo State in 2011 polls. Thus, it was a clear case of political interest and not ‘masses interest’. At last, what comes around goes around.

Fast-forward to 2015, Lai Mohammed said to Bukola Saraki and Yakubu Dogara “Senator Saraki and 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 duly met and conducted a straw poll and clear candidates emerged……all members-elect on the platform of the party are bound by that decision. The party is supreme and its interest is superior to that of its individual members”.

My take on this is that the party machinery is driven by individual interests in most cases. People make parties and take decisions within it. The lesson for APC is that it would not have lost it if a more acceptable candidate by the majority of the people had been elected. Certainly, the party election was done to favour those supported by the leaders.

The second Law of Power by Robert Greene states that ‘never put too much trust in friends; learn how to use enemies’. Saraki and Dogara clearly made use of this law to actualize their goals. They knew that friends betray quickly for they are easily aroused by envy. Along the line, friends become spoiled and tyrannical. When you hire a former enemy, according to Greene, he will be more loyal than a friend because he has more to prove. Indeed, Greene advised that we should find a way of making enemies than friends as there is more to fear from friends than from enemies.

How suddenly did Saraki who joined forces with other political bigwigs to cut short the projected 60-year PDP political lifespan of the PDP become labeled as having unclean records and having cases of corruption hanging on him? Yet he was good enough to be an ally for the 2015 electoral victory. Bukola, himself a godfather from Kwara state knows the game. He negotiated with opposition Senators (members of his former party) and got the Senate Presidency.

Our political parties should learn to respect the wishes of the majority. APC should not forget that in politics, interest is permanent but friends or enemies are not. Political parties are easily permeable in Nigeria to the extent that it is difficult to say with certainty who belongs to this or that party. In the days to come, APC needs to thread softly lest it stumbles the more and paves way for more cracks. Sanctioning Saraki and Dogara will suggest a lack of crisis management skills within the APC.

Dr. Oludayo Tade
A sociologist wrote in from Ibadan via [email protected]

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