After his defection from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) last week, Senate President, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki has come under several attacks from his former party which he toiled seriously and contributed hugely financially to get to power. But will the plot succeed and what are the odds against him? HEAD POLITICS, MUMINI ABDULKAREEM examines the development.
Interesting times are no doubt ahead in the Nigerian political sphere following the latest defection bug that has caught the polity like a bushfire. At the epicentre of that dominant narrative is no other than Senate President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and chairman of the National Assembly, Dr Bukola Saraki.
With Saraki’s action, there has been a continuous commentary between the APC and opposition PDP as to which party has the majority among the Senators with both camps holding tenaciously to their figures. Although the debate of statistics will be clearer when the legislature hopefully reconvened in September, the impending swap expected to continue among the lawmakers in the days ahead will throw open a lot of hypothesis for the ruling APC.
Already, political analysts have started to expound the political thesis of the present situation and how it will impact the country’s evolving democratic experience. Aside the precedence set by Saraki’s co-defector and Governor of Sokoto state, Aminu Tambuwwal who defected to the APC then as the Speaker of the House of Representatives, this will be the first time in the country’s fledgling democracy that a sitting Senate President will stand as an opposition to the ruling party.
In the light of this, issues have been raised as to where this historic development leaves the two parties with many of the former apologists maintaining that there Saraki’s led senate will be a stumbling block to the programmes and policies of his former party’s ambition and in order to have its way, the head must go by whatever means necessary, whether legitimate or criminal.
According to some political pundits, it was based on this premise that some of the dogs and E-Rats of the ruling cabal that has held this administration by its jugular have launched its attack on Saraki in a bid to criminalise him and de-market him in the eyes of the public at a time preparation for the 2019 election has gained momentum.
The first signals of what to expect came from no other person than the “leadership” of the party itself when its new chairman who had failed to stop Saraki’s defection despite several round of meetings to that effect, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole called for Saraki to surrender the crown now that he has taken his “kingdom” elsewhere.
According to Oshiomhole while speaking with newsmen barely twenty four hours after Saraki defected shortly after meeting President Buhari and APC senators at the Villa, the Senate President should resign his position.
“But these are what I might call tempting moments because I had faced similar situations in my state when people were leaving… In a sense, we have to accept that once a couple for any reason or the other find that they are not compatible, the only honourable thing to do is to go. I was happy for one thing, that the Senate president, as a mark of honour, accepted that he is leaving not because the new leadership did not make effort, he admitted that not only did I do everything possible along with the Vice President, along with some governors and we had meeting with the President, but he argued that those efforts came too late. But I couldn’t have started acting before I was born. But whatever is the reason, we can defect from party but we can’t decamp from Nigeria, the only thing is that there are other consequential issues that every man or woman of honour who had taken such decisions would be expected to follow through.
“I mean you should not collect a crown that belongs to a family and wear it on behalf of the family for your personal reasons, which he has enumerated, that he has gone to another family. It is just a matter of honour to leave the crown in the house that the crown belongs to”, he added.
Since that development, Saraki’s foes but friends of the government and cabal in the presidency have further aggravated the call for the prized crown to be relinquished.
As a follow up to that tale, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, the ousted chairman of the Northern Senators Forum Nasarawa said Saraki had stepped on banana peel and should be prepared to bear the consequences of his action.
Messrs Adamu and Saraki, former political allies, have been antagonists since the former accused the senate president of working against the interest of President Muhammadu Buhari. Saraki earlier in the week attacked Adamu, saying he was a deceptive, manipulative and desperate liar.
In his Friday statement on the issue Adamu said, “If Saraki knows political intricacies and the political terrain or the path where the banana peel in political landscape is, he will be more cautious. The way he is going now, he has obviously stepped on banana peel….
Latching on that statement, some overzealous loyalists of the administration and the president who find Saraki as an enemy have run to the market square to openly demand for that crown even though they did not partake in the process that ensured Saraki got it.
However, the desperation to impeach Saraki by his adversaries assumed a new twist last week when new filtered in that some “desperadoes” among APC senators attempted to forcibly break into the National Assembly to perfect their impeachment plot against the Senate President.
But the plot was foiled by some members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) caucus of the House of Representatives led by Acting Minority Leader of the House, Chukwudi Onyema who vowed that they will keep vigil at the National Assembly all night over the issue.
Speaking to journalists, Onyema said that the PDP caucus had information that three senators, Abdullahi Adamu, Ovie Omo-Agege and Ali Ndume, were planning to forcefully invade the senate chamber while the Senate is on recess.
“The aim of their invasion of the senate while senators are on recess, to come and sit illegally when everybody is out on recess, is to impeach the senate president,” Mr Onyema said.
“They are the ones leading these dissident senators to come and truncate our democracy. We might think they want to take over the senate; that’s not what they want to do.
“They want to truncate this democracy of ours. But we the PDP caucus have decided to stay here to keep vigil and wait to see what’s going to happen tonight and tomorrow night,” the deputy minority leader stated.
“If we allow this to happen, then we can as well go back to when we use to have a military junta. We also have some information that some policemen have arrived. We want to find out what they are doing here”, he submitted.
In the same vein, Senator Rafiu Ibrahim from Kwara South, a staunch Saraki loyalist and his counterpart from Bauchi, Isa Misau, the same state Speaker of the House, Yakubu Dogara hails from have vowed to resist by all means whatever plans Saraki’s enemies are hatching to impeach him.
Messrs Misau and Ibrahim, in a statement jointly signed by them in reaction to an interview granted by the Katsina Senator, Abu Ibrahim to the Cable online newspaper (ironically the land of the President), stated that Mr Ibrahim and his colleagues will meet their match if they tried anything illegal even with all the deployment of security forces which they might have been assured of by the executive arm of government.
According to them, “It is obvious from the statements of Abu Ibrahim that he and his cohorts are not democrats. They do not believe in rule of law, the provisions of the constitution, the standing order of the Senate, parliamentary procedure and the due process.
“How will a supposed democrat be threatening disruption of peace in the parliament because his party lost members and lost its majority status? His statements showed why one of them led thugs to disrupt the proceeding of the Senate, steal the mace, the symbol of authority of the legislature, and yet there is no consequence.
“Both the mastermind and his thugs have been protected from being prosecuted. Now, Abu Ibrahim has given us an insight into what they are planning and we will be ready for them. He has also shown an indication of how he, as the chairman of the Police Affairs Committee, has been misusing the police against other Senators.
“APC should note that they are now the minority party. PDP have more members. When we resume, if they push us, we will move for a head count of members and change some of our principal officers to reflect party strength. Today, by the list paraded by APC themselves, they have only 48 Senators and PDP has 54, APGA has 2 and ADC has 2. There are two vacancies. That is the distribution in the Senate. Let them continue to deceive themselves.
“We will use our strength to defend the position of the present leadership of the Senate under Dr Saraki and Senator Ike Ekweremadu. We will defend democracy and rule of law against the pretenders. We will show that every Senator represent different constituencies in our country.
“We urge him and his colleagues to know that if they tried anything illegal and indecent, we will resist it through legal means. They saw an instance with the way our colleagues in the House of Representatives quickly gathered to foil their failed coup early this week”, the statement added.
To be sure, pundits have questioned Oshiomhole’s analysis of the king and the crown and whether the APC can fully lay claim as the sole party that profited the Senate President with the crown after all.
Agreed Saraki rode to power on the platform of the APC, his emergence as Senate President was not the handwork of his party alone. Even many are of the view that if not for the PDP and other opposition parties present during the election of senate president, the crown that the APC is now referring to would not be his.
And since his emergence as the custodian of the crown, the “cabal” within the presidency has tried all means to take away the prized asset through legal and illegal means including even involving Gestapo antics despite its dangerous narrative to the democratic environment. But will Saraki, now described by some as the political cat with nine lives in the country have the tenth to survive this present onslaught. Time will tell.