NASS Leadership Tussle: Matters Arising | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Columnists, The Roundtable

NASS Leadership Tussle: Matters Arising

Posted: Jun 10, 2015 at 2:17 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

The tension was both tangible and palpable. But just like everything that has a beginning is bound to have an end, the end arrived yesterday on a very melodramatic note. Unlike the practice in the past when elected presidents took special interest in choreographing the form and substance of the leadership of the national legislature, Muhammadu Buhari had expressed an absolute lack of interest in the make-up of the leadership of the 8th national assembly. 

But veteran APC chieftains knew that if the ‘spoils of war’ were not farmed out in a generally acceptable manner, the party would suddenly find itself in all kinds of chronic problems. APC leaders dreaded a situation where they worked very hard to produce a landmark electoral victory and yet end up being denied the fullness of the harvest. One way or the other, they let it be known that the party had zoned the principal offices in a matter that was most likely to please the majority of its members and supporters. The posts of president and deputy president of the Senate were allotted to Senator Ahmed Lawan from the Northeast and Senator George Akume from the North-Central respectively while the offices of speaker and deputy speaker were allotted to Femi Gbajabiamila of the Southwest and Mohammed Monguno of the Northeast respectively.

But Sen. Bukuola Saraki and Hon. Yakubu Dogara had other ideas. They decided to turn their noses up at their party and throw a spanner in the works! A hapless APC national leadership could only fret and make agonizing appeals to their members as it became increasingly clear that Saraki had brokered a last-minute agreement with leaders of his former party, the PDP, in and outside the senate.

When APC leaders finally read the handwriting on the wall, they passed word around that Lawan should step down for Saraki to be elected unopposed. They probably hoped that such a gesture would be sufficient to make the Saraki group make a U-turn and save the party’s face. But it was not to be.

It is often said that what goes around comes around. Once upon a time the PDP zoned the speakership to the Southwest but the opposition colluded with dissident PDP members to elect Aminu Tambuwal from the Northwest instead. It was payback time as the PDP leadership schemed to teach the APC a political lesson it won’t forget in a hurry. But while Tambuwal and his deputy, Emeka Ihedioha, were still members of the majority party in the House, the re-elected deputy senate president is from the opposition party!

As I watched the goings-on in the House of Representatives, I could not but wonder why the APC could shoot itself in the foot so early. Why, for instance, should a man like Gbajabiamila, who very ably led his party members in the 7th House, and was roundly applauded for his clear leadership qualities by them, suddenly become the object of a campaign of calumny by the same party members? Why did they become cheap pawns in the hands of PDP officials who see the ghost of Ahmed Tinubu everywhere?

What transpired yesterday at the national assembly not only resurrected PDP back from the dead but it portends serious consequences for the Buhari administration and the APC. The APC may in reality not be the majority party! APC national leaders must now sit down to holistically review the happenstances and adopt stern measures to enforce party discipline. The need for internal party democracy doesn’t in any way, shape or form obviate the supremacy of party discipline.

If anything positive can be taken from the strange developments in the national assembly, it is that the two topmost posts in both chambers are no longer the exclusive preserve of the majority party. So, when next, prior to an election, party leaders allot prized elective political offices to different geopolitical zones they should realize that it’s just a mere academic exercise! The real horse-trading would only commence after the come has come to become (apologies, K.O. Mbadiwe).

It would amounted to a strong relational statement if Ike Ekweremadu had gone round the chamber to high-five his colleagues across the political divide, considering that nearly half of the APC membership also voted for him. Instead, he was simply surrounded by PDP members who were openly applauding themselves for seemingly outfoxing the APC. The sound of a political war of attrition is clearly audible if you have ears to hear!