Bukola Saraki Versus the All Politicians Congress

In the period running up to, and immediately after, the March 28 presidential election, a number of us were already disillusioned, especially with the festival of defections hosted by the All Progressives Congress party. We concluded that the acronym wasn’t what it was registered as, that APC simply meant “All Politicians Congress”, citing its apparent lack of ideology and even criteria for membership that made it a rebranded version of the PDP—the party it defeated with the support of the people.

Chaos was all the doomsday theorists predicted of this legion of politicians whose only common interest was their hatred of former President Goodluck Jonathan, the elimination of whom has now laid bare the unstable pillars around which the APC was formed: the CPC bloc, the ACN bloc, the New PDP bloc, the ANPP bloc and of course the fair-weather PDP bloc.

Aside from the post-election defectors, APC’s victory in the last elections was an outcome to which all blocs contributed, and thus the question of compensation of all blocs quickly become a matter for curiousity. This only escalated with the Senate Presidency bid and then victory of Dr. Bukola Saraki of the New PDP bloc, which was challenged, and still furiously being done, by the ACN bloc of the political party. I don’t know when the National Assembly leadership tussle became a clash of BukolaSaraki’s ambition and Bola Tinubu’s shadow, perhaps because I’ve never ever exactly seen the latter as the one-man kamikaze portrayed by his supporters and the media. I see him, simply and squarely, as an influential party stalwart with certain powers and clearly marked limitations. 

I see a number of us, in the spark of our hatred of Saraki who is, of course, not my model politician, citing biological and political records from various archives to present the man as morally unfit to lead, some even describing him as surreptitious defector. I wouldn’t have bothered if similar criteria are applied to his assumed challenger. What partisanship does to us is it disables our sense of reason. Trust me, you can’t praise Tinubu as a hero and dismiss Saraki as antecedently corrupt and thus morally low.

 We may choose to be selectively objective in our public analyses, promoting narratives that favour our principals, but none of us is electorally useful at the two chambers.

 The partisans may choose to charge Saraki of non-compliance with the party’s non-existent ideology, but with his victory alongside a PDP deputy, it’s easy to infer that the leadership of our bicameral legislature is already promising. We must be wary of one-party dominance in any way. Not when memory of similar arrangement headed by the PDP still lingers.

We must not ask for a Senate President that is loyal to, or intimidated by, the President of the Federation. Nigerians must ask for one capable of highlighting the relative independence of the Legislative while also respecting the interrelationship needed to smoothly run the affairs of Nigeria.

 But the winner in this first litmus test is Mr. President. Through his spokesman on Twitter, referring to the legislative elections as “somewhat constitutional”, a phrase I consider product of Femi Adesina’s naïveté, President Buhari seems to have highlighted his neutrality, refusing to subscribe to the approach of his party. On his official account on Twitter, however, he wrote, “Although I would have preferred the new leaders to have emerged through the process established by the party, I am willing to work with whoever the lawmakers elected.” 

 I’m prouder of the man for honouring his May 29 promise not to interfere with the activities of the Legislative and the Judiciary.

What I fear now is APC’s impulsive reaction, venting and threatening to deal with Saraki/Dogara camp instead of a diplomatic, less dramatic in-house intervention. What APC must know now is that any attempt to reverse thelegislature leadership elections will see the beginning of a crisis that may demolish all the structures upon which it stands. 

Similarly, it needs an immediate reality check, that the goodwill it enjoys isn’t what it assumes, that Nigerians indeed regard it as peculiarly messianic, and as genuine advocate of change. APC is APC because of the people’s confidence in Buhari, who has already refused to lend them his powerful brand. May God save us from us.

 By Gimba Kakanda

@gimbakakanda on Twitter

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