Re: Senate Won't Know Peace Unless Saraki Resigns

By Kazeem Olalekan Israel

On June 6, 2015, the All Progressive Congress gathered most of its National Assembly legislators together in Abuja, in an attempt to hijack the leadership of the National Assembly in what it termed a ‘mock’ election. Few enlightened, educated and political enthusiastic Nigerians across the land rose up to condemn that crass display of political arrogance influenced by lack of sufficient knowledge of how democracy works by the APC. The APC out of sheer ignorance believed that so far they have the majority of members in the National Assembly, it is their right to determine who gets what in the in-house leadership election of the House. This, is clearly illegal, abhorrent and deplorable.

It is so unfortunate that the ruling party held Nigerians to ransom then because they were not ready to accept the outcome of an election they actively and fully participated in because the leadership of the National Assembly did not reflect the plan of the party. The APC as a political party has proven to be ignorant of what democratic rule entails with their consistent move to frustrate the leadership of the National Assembly because the leadership is against what the initial plan of the party was. The APC till this very moment has failed to realise that it has no locus standi or recognition by law in the election or indeed the affairs of the National Assembly. The APC believed that as a party with majority members in the National Assembly, it is their birthright to be dictating what is obtainable as against the provisions of the Constitution; the party has failed to come in terms with the provisions of the Constitution which does not give power or recognition to any political party to dictate to the members of the National Assembly.

It is an established fact that we run a constitutional democracy in this country; a democracy founded on the rule of law, guided and overseen by the provisions of the 1999 Constitution which provisions are binding on all persons and authorities irrespective of status which our public office holders have sworn to protect and uphold at all time. Though, it cannot be gainsaid that in recent time, the provisions of the Constitution have been flagrantly disobeyed and violated by those that swore to abide by it and protect it at all time. Recently, there was an insane move by 8 members of Benue State House of Assembly to impeach the Governor because he defected to the opposition party. It is a known fact even to those that initiated the impeachment move that the move is a sheer display of madness which has no support in law.

It is so embarrassing that despite the fact that Nigerians signed up for a new lease of life with the hope that they have leave behind their old ways of life characterised by governmental incompetencies, institutional failure and crass display of illegalities, the government of the day has proven not to be any better considering the lackadaisical approach of the government to the well-being of the people. No doubt, the government has failed to deliver on its electioneering promises to the good people of the country which is a betrayal of the social contract that was willingly and voluntarily entered into with the good people of Nigeria. What we have now is a government that make use of security apparatus to subdue dissenting voices; a government that flagrantly disobey court orders; a government that fold its arms while the brightest and best of the citizens are being killed helplessly by Fulani vampires and Boko Haram; a government that has refused to fund education; a government that has refused to enhance the living condition of the people; a government that has refused to live up to expectations and a government under whose there is massive stealing with impunity.

It is nauseating that the government continually address inconsequentual issues rather than concentrating on governance all in a bid to divert the attention of Nigerians from their failures. No doubt, hopelessness and despair are now on the increase in the country with the people living in abject poverty and lack of basic amenities. Recently, the Chairman of the ruling APC, Adams Oshiomhole and some members of the Senate from the APC wing, most especially Senator Abu Ibrahim have called for the resignation of the President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki for defecting from the ruling party with the Chairman and Abu Ibrahim claiming ownership of the Senate Presidency on the excuse that their party, the APC has a majority in the Senate.

The recent statement credited to both characters is a pointer to the fact that it is either they have not adverted their minds to the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution which is the groundnum on party matters or they are being mischievous all in a bid to stir unnecessary political and constitutional debate in the country in order to divert the attention of Nigerians from the real business of governance as usual. The language of the Constitution is very clear, precise and specific in Section 50(1) (a) wherein it is stated that there shall be “a President and a Deputy President of the Senate, who shall be elected by the MEMBERS of the House from among THEMSELVES." The same expression is retained in Section 50 (1)(b) as applicable to the House of Representatives, and the emphasis is on the phrase – “from among THEMSELVES.” The Constitution does not say that the Senate President or the Speaker and their Deputies must come from the ruling or majority party, in fact, any of the members of the National Assembly can occupy the mentioned positions once their colleagues choose them “from among THEMSELVES.” As stipulated in the Constitution, the Senate President does not have to resign his Senate Presidency because he has left the APC and the party also cannot order him to resign. This is evidently an in-house issue which should be left to be raised by members of the National Assembly without undue interference by any political party; the members of the Senate can choose to sustain Saraki as the Senate President and they can choose to do otherwise. The Constitution is very clear and it has provide for the right procedures to be taken in executing certain decisions. The only way the Senate President or the Speaker of the House of Representatives can be removed is stated in Section 50 of the Constitution and in the present circumstance, Section 50(2)(c) is of particular interest - it prescribes removal only “by the votes of not less than two-thirds majority of the members of that House”.

The Chairman of the APC and others that are calling for the resignation of the Senate President should endeavour to furnish themselves with the step-by-step procedure to be taken before removing the Senate President because it is obvious that they lack basic knowledge of democratic engagement. The APC as a political party as a matter of urgency need to disregard whatever it is, pushing them to disregard the provisions of the Constitution of this country. Oshiomhole and his cohorts need be reminded that Nigeria is not running a parliamentary system or a Gestapo where the agenda of party supremacy works. The leadership of the APC need be advised to be committed to due process and not to encourage any illegal conduct as is being nursed by some members of the Senate to Nicodemusly remove Bukola Saraki as the Senate President whereas the APC as a political party was a beneficiary of a similar development in 2014 when members of nPDP and APGA defected from their parties to join the APC coalition including the then Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal.

In this case, the APC has no reason to call for the removal of the Senate President as there is no grouse. It is purely an in-house issue which involve members of the Senate, the law does not recognize the face of the APC as a political party on the floor of the National Assembly, but rather, individual legislators. The best option before the APC presently, is not some specious or cloudy noise for the removal of the Senate President but rather to muster enough support from the members of the National Assembly to seek for the removal of the Senate President. However, this is absolutely unnecessary as it would cause needless distraction. APC as a political party should not hold Nigeria to ransom due purely to its own internal crisis.

Kazeem Olalekan Israel (GANI) is a 300Level Student of Political Science, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife

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