By Nasirudeen Elelu
With the National Assembly elections over and the All Progressives Congress (APC) in clear, though not absolute majority in the two chambers of the National Assembly, the next logical development that Nigerians expect is a smooth process of choosing the leaderships of both the Senate and the House of Representatives. This is imperative to avoid the sordid experience of the 8th Senate where the President and the ruling APC did not state what the power sharing formula was, thus making it unclear which zone was getting what position, particularly in the National Assembly.
Following to that glaring failure, names began to drop, as is currently happening, about who was suitable for what leadership position in the National Assembly. Therefore, certain individuals with unbridled ambition started jockeying for the plum jobs of Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives. This sad state of affair ultimately created the incurable division in the rank of legislators, a disunion that subsists till today, notwithstanding the defection of Senate President Bukola Saraki and his associates to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
In the course of that state of uncertainty, which prevailed after the 2015 elections, some people, like a joke, started throwing up names of possible occupants of the parliament’s top posts. Worse still, some people started dropping President Buhari’s name, claiming he had endorsed their ambition.
Regrettably, what is currently happening is a replica of what we went through in 2015. We have now seen that few days after elections, personalities like Senator Ahmad Lawan have taken to the podium in desperation, seeking to mount the National Assembly top posts even before the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) issued their certificates of return to them.
In Senator Lawan’s case, for instance, he went too far to the extent of placing by proxy, advertisements in several newspapers to market his “candidacy”. This is besides series of opinion articles, which have obviously been sponsored too, to promote his ambition. This is how the division starts. Only God knows where such will take the APC and the entire nation.
Though a loyal party man, many are of the view that Lawan may well be unsuited to occupy the exalted position of Senate President, for fears that his ambition could lead to compromises, thereby jeopardising President Buhari’s vision for the country. Sceptics cite Lawan’s lukewarm attitude in pursuing the APC’s interests, while refusing to lend his voice to protect President Buhari’s yearnings after he lost his initial bid for the Senate Presidency to Senator Saraki’s trickery and guile. By then, Senator Lawan became a near recluse until he was ‘compensated’ with the chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Defence. His major preoccupation then was to sustain the status quo while heading the Defence Committee.
It is on point that Senator Lawan hobnobbed with the leadership of the Senate under Saraki, making little or no serious contributions to furthering the cause of President Buhari in the Legislature. At a point in time, supporters of the President wondered if at all Senator Lawan was in the Senate when the Upper Legislative Chamber kept opposing virtually every initiative from the Presidency.
His true colours came to fore after he became the beneficiary of the palace coup of principal officers which ousted then Senate Majority Leader, Senator Muhammad Ali Ndume. As soon as he was made the Senate Leader, Lawan effectively joined the bandwagon and became more of a ‘yes’ man, dancing to every tune dished out by Saraki, including those that were obviously adverse towards the executive arm of government. Literally, every move by the Senate to frustrate President Buhari was executed under Senator Lawan’s watch as the Majority Leader.
Many instances abound during the infamous moment following the defection of Senator Saraki to the PDP when Nigerians expected Senator Lawan to rise up to the occasion but he faltered. For instance, during the repeated adjournment of parliamentary activities in the Senate in order to suspend action on pending crucial national issues presented by the President such as the supplementary budget for 2018, Nigerians expected Senator Lawan, as the perceived loyal party man, to openly and decidedly oppose such moves. Alas, he wavered!
With the horrid experience of the ruling party under Saraki’s reign as Senate President, therefore, there is every need for the APC to pause and weigh the antecedents of those seeking to occupy the offices of President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives. It won’t augur well for the party to allow fifth columnists derail the laudable vision of the APC-led Federal Government. This is a defining moment for President Buhari who is on his final lap. Nigerians expect the APC to deliver much more than it did in the past. This time, no one will be able to blame the federal government’s failure on the treachery of Saraki’s leadership, which the likes of Ahmad Lawan are still part of.
Elelu is a freelance journalist covering the National Assembly
Though a loyal party man, many are of the view that Lawan may well be unsuited to occupy the exalted position of Senate President, for fears that his ambition could lead to compromises, thereby jeopardising President Buhari’s vision for the country. Sceptics cite Lawan’s lukewarm attitude in pursuing the APC’s interests, while refusing to lend his voice to protect President Buhari’s yearnings after he lost his initial bid for the Senate Presidency