Still On The 8th Senate…(2) | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Still On The 8th Senate…(2)

James Onanefe Ibori
Posted: Jul 29, 2016 at 2:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Tiko Okoye

Contrary to orchestrated noises about “mounting concerns over the sanctity of the legislature to run its affairs as an independent arm of government,” the truth is that the arraignment of Senate President Bukola Saraki or any other officer of the National Assembly is not tantamount to putting the entire National Assembly or any of its constituent chambers on trial. And senators who believe otherwise are well advised to apply to be joined as co-defendants to Saraki and his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, rather than embarking on disruptive and unproductive pilgrimages to the courts.

And when senators accuse the Presidency of rubbishing the sanctity of the legislature to run its own affairs as an independent arm of government on account of a law suit filed against some of their officers by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, and demand that Buhari opts for a political solution, they forget that doing so would equally rubbish the sanctity of the judiciary as an independent arm of government. Should we rob Peter to pay Paul?

Be that as it may, it is hardly surprising that former Senate Presidents David Mark and Ken Nnamani, and a former Speaker of the House of Representatives and current Katsina State Governor, Aminu Masari, have chosen to intervene in the faceoff by holding a meeting behind closed doors with President Muhammadu Buhari. Interactions between the executive and legislative arms of Government have been less than cordial since Saraki emerged as Senate President with an opposition senator as his deputy. The odd man among the trio, in my view, is Mark. As President of the 7th Senate and ranking member of the 8th Senate he should be able to throw plenty of light on how the Senate Standing Order carried forward under his watch transformed into something else when brought forward on the eve of the very day the 8th Senate was inaugurated!

Meanwhile, few days after the high-powered visit to Buhari by the three eminent Nigerians, it was announced that Saraki had reshuffled the chairmanship positions of several committees. A handful of senators from the opposing Unity Forum were appointed chairmen of committees perceived to be ‘juicy’ or ‘significant.’ In return, they were expected to withdraw all cases at various stages of prosecution at the courts since the Senate has “ruled” that its standing order was not forged as was being alleged. Case closed, but is it?

My take is that all this is simply a case of doing too little too late. Majority of those who read the first part of this essay sent in text messages requesting me to fully explain the Parable of the Paw in a Bottle. It is an open secret that Saraki’s burning ambition is to be president of this country. And he has the carriage, charisma, upbringing, intelligence and political savvy to make it happen. But our elders say that opportunity is like wine, soothing when taken with caution and fatal if overindulged in.

Besides – and no matter how many times he pronounces his loyalty to the APC – it is widely believed that he is a PDP 2019 presidential candidate-in-waiting, and the carryings-on of PDP members in the Senate and Wadata Plaza have done very little to dispel that supposition. Under such circumstances, should he expect APC chieftains to allow the ant to get to where it should not get before killing it? If only Saraki could bring himself to temporarily forego his ambition and be mindful that discretion is the better part of valour. But he won’t.

The 8th Senate is too discredited to go toe-to-toe with the Buhari administration at this point in time. Unless they want to behave like the proverbial fly that follows the corpse to the grave because it has refused to hear any advice, the present crop of senators should take a very good look at themselves in the mirror. The Holy Book says that it is better to cut off your hand or pluck out your eyes, and enter heaven with one hand or one eye, if your hand or eye would cause you to sin. Fortunately for the 8th Senate, there is still ample time left for them to make needed adjustments and warm themselves into the hearts of Nigerians on account of the impact their law-making sessions make on the citizenry, but can they be trusted to prudently redeem the time by focusing more on their core mandate? Only time will tell.