?And Buhari finally invited Saraki | Independent Newspapers Limited
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COLUMNIST, Inside the Presidency

?And Buhari finally invited Saraki

Posted: Oct 11, 2015 at 2:17 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Chesa Chesa

After being denied the privilege and relevance of taking executive communication to the National Assembly, presidential senior assistant on National Assembly Matters, Ita Enang got back into the groove last week when he ‘brokered’ a meeting between President Muhammadu Buhari and the principal officers of the legislature. ?The meeting took place on ?Wednesday night ?at the First Lady’s Conference Room in the Presidential Villa.

As ?was apparent to keen observers two weeks ago, Enang, a former Senator of the Federal Republic, was not entrusted with the task of submitting  the President’s list of ministerial nominees to the Senate President, which is the job former occupants of that office usually did. However, as work is soon to start on the screening and clearing of the nominees, Enang’s portfolio came to the fore again. Last Wednesday, he took credit for getting the President and the embattled Senate President to talk in the most anticipated formal meeting since the two leaders assumed office four months ago.

Anyway, whether it was Buhari who initiated it or Enang suggested it, the meeting was long overdue and it was the Villa that invited the lawmakers. But after announcing that the meeting would hold, presidency officials tried to bar State House correspondents from covering the event. The instruction for them to keep off such a meeting was not new. However, as the journalists were leaving, the Senate President, accompanied by the Speaker of House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, and other lawmakers, arrived with his official photographer. The development looked unfair. If the Senate President’s photojournalist was there, why not State House correspondents. The decision to stay back paid off as moments before the closed-door meeting and Saraki’s summation of it afterwards eventually became for public consumption.

Saraki was obviously elated and seemed to be exuding the confidence of one whose troubles are almost over. He understands that he has many favours he will be obliged to do for Aso Rock, which has now honoured him with a personal presidential invitation. Of course, the Villa should be glad to have a smooth working relationship with Saraki, at least for now. Apart from the ministerial list, which screening by the Senate will start this week, the 2016 Appropriation Bill will soon be put forward before Saraki and his colleagues.

So, double honours for Saraki it seems to be, as he was honoured with a vote of confidence by his colleagues just a few days before the meeting at the Villa. And that was shortly after his ongoing trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal began. Indeed, the House of Representatives had even mandated its Speaker to intervene in the apparent face-off between the Villa and Saraki. While it appears the rough edges in the relationship between Buhari and the National Assembly have begun to be smoothened out, there is no guarantee that feathers will still not be ruffled in the coming days. The criteria for clearing Buhari’s ministerial nominees are already raising eyebrows. There are very likely many more things to fight over and that is democracy.