Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State is surely one of the vocal governors in the country. Beside the outgoing Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State, Gov Wike will rank as the highest critic of the present administration. It is not for nothing. He belongs to the rival Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), ousted by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). But that is not all that fuels his engine of criticism.
His major political rival, his former boss, Rt Hon Rotimi Amaechi, is not only a cardinal personality in the APC, he (Amaechi) represents the greatest threat to his governorship experience. It therefore follows that hitting the APC as frequently as possible should be to weaken the fibre of the party, if not in the entire country, then in Rivers State.
Long before now, the battle line had been drawn.
The 2015 political duel, ended in Wikeâ€™s favour and today, he is the sitting governor. Two factors helped him at the time. The then president, Goodluck Jonathan was (like) his godfather. And that probably made all the difference. The federal might tilted to his favour. That is why the high-scale violence that preceded and characterised the election in Rivers State just went like that: not revisited. The apparatchiks of government facilitated the election of the governor.
Under a new dispensation, Gov Wike is not sure the same facilities and circumstances that aided his victory at the time will still be there for him. So much ahead of time, he is already raising all the red flags and alarm he can raise.
Not long ago, he raised the alarm that the federal government was planning to give him the Alamieyeseigha treatment outside the country, wherein heâ€™d be accused of warehousing some hard currency in his hotel apartment abroad and thus a ground to arrest him.
Recently too, he has been crowing about a particular police officer, whom he said, an INEC report had indicted and was then posted away to Gombe State, and that the same police officer has been re-posted to Rivers, suspecting that he has been brought back for a given mission, not unrelated with the 2019 political contest.
Surely, Rivers State will be one of the flashpoint states as it is very likely going to be an epic battle ground. Too often, elections in Rivers hardly go free and fair, especially now that the state is so torn along party lines, what with the intra-party feud rocking the All Progressives Congress in the state.
Further to the alarms he had raised, Gov Wike penultimate Wednesday obtained a Federal High court order forbidding the Police, the DSS and EFCC from searching any of his houses. It was such a curious order.
As a governor, Wike is already protected from prosecution under section 308 of the 1999 constitution, as amended. So why did he have to specially approach the court last year seeking an injunction that will forbid the three security agencies from searching his houses?
What did he hide or store in his houses which he does not want people to know or find out? Searching a house does not necessarily amount to being prosecuted. So, what are in those houses that must not be searched? Why is Wike afraid?
Late Chief Gani Fawehinmi, in his case with then Lagos State governor, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, had indeed established the fact that a sitting governor could not be prosecuted, but could be investigated.
So even if searching Wikeâ€™s houses amounts to investigation, it will yet be right in the eye of the law.
Indeed, that Justice Ahmed Mohammed granted such a prayer even makes it more curious.
Is the judge saying, for instance, that if the governor decides to store in any of his houses enough arms and ammunition and other weapons of mass destruction (before, during or after the 2019 polls), the houses should never be searched? Do the houses also have immunity?
Or, still in the realm of hypothetical argument, if kidnappers chose to use any of the governorâ€™s houses as a hideout for kidnapped victims, they should remain ensconced therein without the police or any body searching such houses?
I think it is a dangerous blank cheque order that could be a lethal weapon in the hands of an unguarded handler.
Yet agim during the week, Gov Wike raised an alrm that he has reports that there were plans by the federal government to assassinate him. That was heavy and direct. He claims he has intelligence report as his source of alarm, but he will not substantiate such a serious allegation. Is he merely taking the liberty of his immunity to just say whatever he likes, to put the nation on edge? The allegation of a plot to assassinate a sitting governor, by the federal government, is more than mere political buccaneering. But do people take Wike serious? Not likely.
Surely, the days and months ahead are bound to be politically foggy. But all institutional agencies, including the judiciary, have to make conscious effort to clear the fog on the landscape.
Has Saraki Bettered or Battered the Image of the Senate Institution?
Have you noticed that the eighth senate has been bumping from one controversy into another on a near consistent basis?
Controversy? How do you mean?
Just what it means. Have you not been following the rounds of scandals and controversies that have literally defined the image of the senate in the last three years?
You have to understand the genesis of those so-called controversies. It is being orchestrated and escalated by those who are enemies of democracy. Those who are opposed to the independence of the legislature. Otherwise youâ€™d agree that it is one of the most stable senate leadership we have had in recent times.
Did you say stable? Ok, stable but rot-ridden!
Your language is rather extreme.
No, it is not. I will cite some examples. Look, there is no leadership of the senate that has been so scandalized, battered and reduced in the eyes of the right thinking members of the public, as this one under Dr Bukola Saraki. It is scandal and controversy all the way. Starting from the manner by which he was elected, it looked like a stolen crown and that has dogged the credibility of the senate leadership.
Thatâ€™s not correct sir. The senators elected the man they wanted. The leadership was not elected by soldiers or market women, but the senators themselves. The problem is that some persons wanted to dictate, from outside, who should be what. But the senators said no, and asserted their lawful rights and elected their own leaders without coercion. Thatâ€™s what happened and some people cannot just live with that. Simple!
That is not the whole truth. You forget the trickery and crude craft that preceded that so-called election? Anyway, was it the outsiders that also generated the accusation of false asset declaration controversy which has remained like a yoke on the neck of the senate president all these three years? Have you not seen the degree of distraction that endless trial has caused the senate as a legislative institution? Is Saraki not literally dragging the senate on the mud he created? Have you not seen how scores of senators will be shuttling between the red chambers and the Code of Conduct Tribunal every time Saraki is appearing at the tribunal? The business of law making for the entire country has to be put on hold, just so the lackeys of the senate president can have opportunity to demonstrate their solidarity which is counted as loyalty. Donâ€™t you see how he runs the senate like an emperor? How demeaning can the institution be subjected!
Come to think of it, what remarkable law, capable of changing the fortunes of ordinary Nigerians, would you really say has been passed under the Sarakiâ€™s leadership in the last three years?
Ahhhh, be grateful, even for little things. Have you forgotten the seemingly jinxed PIB? That under Saraki , the Bill has finally been passed?
(hissing) PIB? The one they fractionalised? How many portions of the broken PIB has been passed? Do you know they have not even transmitted the PIGB to Mr President? Of what effect is the fragment they have passed? Gosh, stop being gullible! Itâ€™s all motion, no movement, Otherwise, youâ€™d ask whether the oil and gas sector is now better administered or not. My brother, with this eighth senate, it is legislative abracadabra: the more you look, the less you see.
And you say we should be grateful. Really? We should be grateful that they collect N13.5 million and another N700, 000 as salary per month, while the minimum wage of the ordinary Nigerian worker remains N18,000?
Suddenly, you have forgotten that the senate used to be a chamber of banana peels. You have forgotten how the leadership used to frequently change, like a womanâ€™ s bra, Under Saraki, the leadership has been stable. And you are failing to see it as a proof of leadership adroitness powered by transparency and inclusive governance.
Trans-what?Hmmmmm. You have no idea how that red chamber runs. It is anything but transparent. It is anything but inclusive. It is quasi-cultic. You will need a deepresearch to know the hundreds of diverse tendencies that manage to get cobbled together in the senate.
I give you another example of how its acts have belittled it as an institution. Recall all the rave about the CG of Customs, Col Hameed Ali (retd), not wearing the Customs uniform? What eventually happened? The old man has continued to run the Customs with his Babaringa outfit, with the small bunch of his white goatie beard to boot. What did the senate do?
Recall also that the Senate had once invited Prof Itse Sagay to explain an opinion he expressed about the senators. The learned prof, snubbed the senate and till date nothing happened.
Have you also forgotten how on two occasions, the present acting (?) Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had appeared before the senate for confirmation, and how he has been rejected twice, yet he continues to function and even throw some of its members (likeSenators Peter Nwaoboshi and Jonah Jang) into prison?
Have you forgotten the recent face-off between the Senate and the Inspector General of Police, Mr Ibrahim Idris? How the latter shunned the senateâ€™s invitation thrice, and the senate passed a whimperish vote of no confidence on him declaring him (albeit illegally) as being unfit to hold public office both in Nigeria and abroad? What has changed ever since that ill- declaration was made?
Nigerians know that the IG was invited essentially because Saraki felt his Man Friday, Senator Dino Melaye, was maltreated by the police, and so the police institution must be grilled and guttered, as a revenge. Next, was the entire senate being shut down so one of their own (the sick-but-active- on-twitter Dino), can be visited in the hospital. Can you not see that the senate is fast becoming like a hungry toothless bulldog?
What is worse, the recent quashing of the suspension of Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, representing Delta central, has further opened the senate to ridicule, betraying the fact that the senate has been over-reaching itself in too many ways. Donâ€™t forget that Senator Ali Ndume, earlier suspended by the same Saraki-led Senate had also defeated the red chambers in court over the illegal suspension. I am sure if Senator Shehu Sani was not in Sarakiâ€™s camp, he would have been suspended for daring to reveal, in an interview, what the senators earn. Do you know Saraki does not allow pro-PMB senators, his perceived enemies, the chance to speak during plenary? How dictatorial can a presiding officer be!
It has become a senate of anything goes, one filled with vexatious shenanigans. Clearly, the red chambers under Saraki has been reduced to a Circus show of lousy comedy and faux pas, especially as the court threw out the stay-of-execution application against the recall of Omo-Agege.
The awe and aura of honour associated with the Senate are gradually being pulled down.
On the contrary, many discerning Nigerians have continued to hail the political sagacity of Senator Saraki, commending how he has been able to weather all the adverse storm welled up against him, in such a way that he has continued to remain relevant in the political algebra of this country.
I donâ€™t know what you term as sagacity. Is thesenate institution about the political life of Saraki?
Pray, what is the sagacity of passing the 2018 budget in mid-May, more than six months after it had been presented by the executive, and after padding the budget with over N500 billion?
By passing the budget in the middle of the rainy season, how well can the budget perform? Sagacity my foot!
All we ask is that the legislature be left alone. The external interferences are too many. The senators love their president. And that should be it. Those who donâ€™t like it should wait till another round of election. That is the recommended temperament of democracy.