Home OPINION COMMENTARY Senate Leadership Saga: Between Politics And Morality, By Ariyo Dare

Senate Leadership Saga: Between Politics And Morality, By Ariyo Dare

Ariyo Dare

It is indeed heartwarming that partisan Abba Mahmood, in his Thursday column in Leadership newspaper titled: “Urine Cannot Clean Faeces,” decided to cite celestial factors- righteousness and justice- as the forces that will win the final political battle in the All Progressives Congress (APC).  Very gratifying!  The implication of this is that the writer fully understands the place of truth and fairness in the complex game of politics; meaning, we can x-ray and place what transpired before and on June 9, 2015 in the National Assembly on a moral pedestal.

But before looking at the intricacies surrounding all that led to the legislative leadership tussle in the APC, a simple check with recent history could have saved the writer the needles journey through the path of political religiousness.  Less than eight months ago, APC which was in a hurry to grab government at the center, consolidated its gradual incursion into the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-led government through the former Speaker, House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal (now Governor of Sokoto State). A proxy of the minority party succeeded in presiding over the majority. I will dwell more on this later.

Another worrying aspect of the July 9, 2015 column was the subtle attack on the person of the Clerk to the National Assembly (CNA), Salisu Maikasuwa, who has ever remained impartial in the legislative enterprise of the federal lawmakers.  The CNA is largely concerned with the administration of the NASS bureaucracy.  The Clerk to the Senate and his counterpart in the House of Representatives tend to the legislators’ lawmaking business on the floor, including providing guidance on issues of legislative rules.   It is important to make this point so that people like Mahmood will refocus when they try to point finger of guilt to quarters in the alleged alteration of standing rules.

Now, let us look at another perspective in the legislative saga: if Maikasuwa is so powerful to the extent that it was within his bureaucratic powers to shut out some lawmakers from the Senate chamber, can we then safely conclude that Maikasuwa colluded with the APC to allow Tambuwal to gain access into the Green Chamber, when a PDP-led government was against him (Tambuwal)?  But here is a bureaucrat that understands how to rise above politics, partisanship and pettiness in the discharge of his duties, perhaps always guided by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as demonstrated on June 9, 2015.

From all indications, the modest measure of stability in the National Assembly is still due to the wisdom and good conscience of the CNA, who I will like to meet one day.  If Maikasuwa had allowed himself to be used for politics sans morality and refused to open the 8th Assembly for business after the President had conveyed his proclamation to him, possibly, NASS would have been caught in a serious disaster and worse situation; and, without any other corresponding letter from the President directing him to suspend or shift the date of the inauguration from 10am on June 9, 2015, the leadership of APC would have denied him and the whole world would have been asking for his head.  It is therefore not Maikasuwa yaci kasuwarsa kawai (Maikasuwa just ate his market) as Mahmood magisterially declared in his treatise but Maikasuwa ya gyara kasuwan democratiyan Nigeria (Maikasuwa has succeeded in helping to strengthen democracy in Nigeria).

See also:  Between EFCC And Ex Gov. Yahaya Bello: Common Sense And The Law, By Yusuf Ozi-Usman

Back to the leadership matter: that Mahmood did not capture a very recent episode for justice to be complete beggars belief.  Can we then safely say he sanctioned the Tambuwal incident?  Of course, like the APC camp, the PDP too was not happy with that development. It employed all manner of tactics to stop Tambuwal but several Nigerians, galvanized by the APC, stood against the PDP and Tambuwal had his way.  It was then that “they” made us to realize that there was nothing wrong in the minority presiding over the majority.  We had Tambuwal (APC) as Speaker and Emeka Ihedioha (PDP) as Deputy Speaker.  The question now is: did Tambuwal act based on righteousness, justice and progress according to the editorial parlance of Mahmood?

Maybe the PDP should even be blamed for having a rare opportunity to take the bigger apple; but had, instead, humbly elected to go for the smaller one in the 8th Assembly, to wit: deputy senate presidency.   Heaven would not have fallen if David Mark, for instance, had returned as the Senate President like some hawks in the PDP had wished and even advised.  It would have been so easy for the PDP to have played a smart political coup d’état against Bukola Saraki on the floor of the Senate and beat him to it.  Validation: the House was already convened and quorum formed, yet the 49 PDP senators, out of magnanimity, decided to honour an earlier pact, as widely reported in the media, to take the Deputy Senate President.

To conclude with the alleged doctoring of the Senate Standing Rules, I would like to posit that the APC has scored another first by externalising an internal matter that should have been left for the Senators to resolve.  I can understand the desperation of the other camp in the APC to vitiate, at all cost, the process that produced Saraki and Ekweremadu as Senate President and Deputy Senate President respectively.  Its only strategy is to externalize the issue and seek to heap a moral burden on the senate leadership.  But the other camp should know that inequity cannot be fought with chicanery.

I will counsel Mahmood to be prepared to, in the months ahead, write a similar piece to criticise police involvement in an issue that could later affect those on his side of interest in the National Assembly.  Yes, what goes around comes around.  I hope when it eventually happens, he will not forget this current episode.

  • Ariyo Dare, a public affairs commentator, sent this piece from Ketu, Lagos. [myad]



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