The Parliament Is Irrepressible!

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Saraki and Dogara...where do they come in

The current attempt by the APC leadership to muscle the incoming ninth senate over the choice of her leadership might boomerang, writes Olawale Olaleye

Since it was established the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) commands majority seats in both chambers of the National Assembly, its leadership has carried on as if that one feat was the only means to an end it desperately desires – issuing orders to grown men as if they were some high school students.

Between the National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole and the self-styled national leader of the party, Bola Tinubu, whose love for self than the country is bewildering, they have both held the party by the jugular in a manner that is not only less than noble, but suggests ulterior intentions of holding down the nucleus of the APC to fester personal agenda.

Curiously, their very valid reason for traveling such ignoble route was allegedly because of the need to prevent a reoccurrence of their 2015 experience. They have consistently arrogated some of the evident but avoidable failure of the current administration of Muhammadu Buhari to the non-cooperation of the National Assembly, the senate in particular. They reckoned things could have been significantly different had they pushed through their own agenda of determining who headed which chamber of the bicameral legislature.

Unfortunately, whilst they have yet to take their time to evaluate some of the factors that could have paved the way for the internal rebellion that gave rise to the emergence of the National Assembly leadership in 2015, which obviously took its root in 2011 alteration of the PDP structure for the National Assembly leadership of which they played a key role, they have begun to make the exact same mistake, believed to have galvanised the coming to office of the outgoing structure through the unanimity of the parliamentarians.

Of the three arms of government, the legislature is especially notorious for its demands for independence. Not only is it conscious of the importance of the separation of powers, it is not oblivious of the pivotal value-adding functions of the checks and balances that exist amongst the three independent arms.

Sadly, the executive sees and recognises the structure differently. It would rather other partner arms of government were subservient to it since the cash domiciles with it. Therefore, while it is believed to have successfully intimidated and subdued the judiciary albeit through its (judiciary) own cooperation, the legislature remains adamant, this being the factor solely responsible for the constant friction between the two.

Casting your mind back to the advent of the Fourth Republic in 1999, every attempt to subjugate the legislature had always resurrected the ‘monster’ in the lawmakers and in such circumstances, convinced and determined to establish its independence. This is why between 1999 and now, each of the two chambers of the National Assembly had produced seven leaderships respectively.

In the senate, for example, there had been Evan(s) Enwerem, Chuba Okadigbo, Anyim Pius Anyim, Adolphus Wabara, Ken Nnamani, David Mark and now Bukola Saraki. Also, in the House, from Salisu Buhari, it had produced others like Ghali Umar Na’Abba, Aminu Bello Masari, Patricia Etteh Dimeji Bankole, Aminu Tambuwal and the outgoing, Yakubu Dogara.

A majority of these leaders lost their position to the intrigues and fight for independence as well as executive domination and in other instances, some of them being framed for offences that were later quashed by the courts, many years after, as untrue.

The takeaway from this is that the parliament remains irrepressible and would always resist external control of its affairs. Indeed, the leadership of the party and the presidency could still have their way by indulging in some high wire horse-trading and lobbying effectively to get a buy-in for their choice candidates.

In any case, the individuals they seek to lead the legislature are part of them, why not take a back seat, design the strategy and delegate the foot soldiers to deliver on the assignment and the result would have been achieved with the party leadership walking away with its shoulders still very high?

But the condescending approach by Tinubu, Oshiomhole and their partners in the take-it-by-force movement is usually met with reproach by the lawmakers and the determination to assert themselves as the decider of their own fate is therefore reinforced.

Ordering them in a particular way as though they are secondary school pupils or dishing out orders or asking them to leave the party as if they had no stakes whatsoever is the biggest mistake any political leader, supposedly with emotional intelligence, could make in this circumstance.

Perhaps, there is still time to make things right. June is still a long time – long good enough to alter the current equation and dynamics. It is also still sufficient to completely unsettle the apple cart as it were. But to arrive at the first option, the leadership of the APC under whatever guise must understand and appreciate the fact that the parliament is irrepressible and to have their way, they must play their card and not the selfishly orchestrated plan of a few to seize control, beyond the current mandate that is even yet to take off.

Above all, if there’s anything disturbing in all of this, it is in the knowing that the party leadership has learnt nothing from the recent past and is yet doing things the same way that failed it in the past and expecting a different outcome. That, clearly, may yet be in a world unknown to history.