Unnecessary controversies

There is the unnecessary argument over the fate of Bukola Saraki as Senate President. Ordinarily, since re-decamping from APC back to PDP, his designation should not be an issue.

Duro Onabule

There should be little or no surprise on the row over the need to recall National Assembly or not, to urgently debate the budget submitted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the 2019 elections. At the thick of it all is the assumption of the National Assembly leadership that that institution is a separate and sovereign entity with which either to confront the executive or through which (National Assembly that is) to grab the tenancy of Aso Rock.

READ ALSO: INEC budget: Why National Assembly can’t reconvene – Saraki, Dogara

Until that fundamental issue is ruthlessly resolved, there will always be political tension. The National Assembly is not to administer the country. Its main duty is to vet. In short, to iron out disagreements, rather than lording it, directly or remotely, over the executive. The situation in the states vividly illustrates the point. In all honesty, that may even be a poor example, since all the 36 states have been so intimidated by governors and reduced to mere rubber stamps or echo chambers. In fact, state governors determine everything for state houses of assembly. Leadership like Speaker, Deputy Speaker, majority leader and deputy whip, chief whip, etc, are all virtually nominees of state governors in all the states.

Ironically, substantial members of state governors who operated such authoritarianism and reduced state houses of assembly to houses of slaves now partly populate the National Assembly and get it into their heads (that) they must terrorise the federal executive. How long that disturbing situation will continue is not clear. With that mind-set of National Assembly members, how or when Federal Government will fund the 2019 elections is a guess for anybody. To National Assembly members, such time is of no significance to them.

Otherwise, why should it be that situation that the National Assembly could not be recalled till September 25? Only in Nigeria does it take more than six months for National Assembly to pass the budget. Ghana passed within weeks. Even in those days under Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa or the four regional premiers, budget never took a month to be passed since membership of House of Representatives and regional houses of assembly was part-time, and administration of Nigeria was far better without all the man-made encumbrances of modern Nigerian politics. Until the arrogance, greed, power-drunkenness and political ambition of National Assembly members are curbed, we will have to be coping with tension.

What is more, what is all the argument on recalling National Assembly from recess to consider a very important issue, like funding of the 2019 elections? To worsen matters, there seems to be nothing like party loyalty or even commitment. If, for example, the APC federal administration should decide to curb the financial recklessness institutionalised in the National Assembly, APC members in the place, would rather be concerned with and supportive of their financial benefits running into hundreds of millions of naira for each member annually rather than national interests.

National Assembly members are also wrong-headed in the belief that they can budget any amount, no matter Nigeria’s national purse and Aso Rock must implement the budget or threats of impeachment for alleged violation of the fiscal law will fill the air.

READ ALSO: Buhari, IGP Idris meet in Aso Rock

Apart from these, what really is going on? Deputy Speaker of House of Representatives Yusuf Lasun and majority leader Femi Gbajabiamila jointly and publicly announced that the National Assembly would resume from recess for the specific and urgent purpose of passing the estimates for the 2019 general election only for Senate President Bukola Saraki and House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara to announce National Assembly was not due to resume. Undoubtedly, Saraki and Dogara both have the authority to recall the National Assembly. In which case, Deputy Speaker Lasun and majority leader Gbajabiamila are ignorant of such important procedure?

No matter how seemingly obstructionist, the fact remains that Saraki and Dogara are within their authority and there is nothing under the constitution the APC or their chieftains Lasun and Gbajabiamila can do to countermand the supreme leadership of the National Assembly. We are then stuck.

By the way, there is the unnecessary argument over the fate of Bukola Saraki as Senate President. Ordinarily, since re-decamping from APC back to PDP, his designation should not be an issue. In normal political arrangements, Senate Presidency is produced by the majority party’s choice of candidate. Was that the case with Senator Saraki? Certainly not.

A dissident section of APC senators, led by Saraki himself, conspired with entire opposition PDP senators to seize the Senate Presidency. The APC, instead of being outraged, acquiesced in the stolen Senate Presidency. That dissident gang of APC senators of June 2015, again led by Saraki, is back in PDP and it is safe to presume, in a showdown, they will still retain the majority to retain Saraki in office. Any idea of expecting Saraki to voluntarily step down is unrealistic.

To compound APC’s handicap on this issue, Saraki got to office as Senate President with a simple majority. What is now being intimidatingly flaunted by his supporters is that Saraki will go only if two- thirds of Senate members kick against him. APC, therefore, is not facing reality. How many of the party’s traitors who betrayed APC in June 2015 to elect Saraki into office are back in APC today? More significantly, those traitors rationalised themselves by claiming that their party could not dictate the choice of Senate President for them since, according to them, as APC senators, they enjoyed independence from their party, the APC. Have these party traitors changed their stand on their independence? Are they not the same senators now claiming Saraki must go? And party chairman Adams Oshiomole is relying on them?

READ ALSO: APC senators, NWC declare war on Saraki

The APC must first demand from the traitors why they rejected the party’s choice as Senate President and instead voted for Saraki. Are these APC senators more loyal today than they were in June 2015?

The same doubtful loyalty of today’s APC senators should be extended to the party’s members in the House of Representatives who also rejected the party’s choice for Speaker of the lower chamber. Party chairman Oshiomhole is particularly amusing with his over-confidence, which he exhumes all over the place. A battle commander does not reveal his battle plans for the enemy. In contrast, the PDP is restrictive in their battle plans even though the party at a stage was generous to APC, a cheap gift Oshiomhole appears to have ignored. The PDP let it be known that its moles freely operate within APC hierarchy and regularly supply information to PDP.

These are the same moles Oshiomhole relies on to topple Saraki from the Senate Presidency.

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Obasanjo demonising Obasanjo

This might not have been necessary, except to clear the mind of ex-deputy national chairman of PDP, Chief Bode George, that it is no joy demonising his Commander- in-Chief and former President Olusegun Obasanjo. Chief George had claimed Yoruba, or, specifically, Duro Onabule, demonises Obasanjo.It isalsoopportunetomakeitclear that, rather, Obasanjo demonises Obasanjo as he once did to Bode George, who was accordingly defended in this column against the same Obasanjo.

The criticism (or demonisation) of Obasanjo in this column at that time was that he abandoned Bode George at a time his supposed Commander-in-Chief should have stood by him. Or how else could we have assessed Obasanjo for being tattled by public criticisms for attending a church service for Bode George to thank God for his experiences in life so far? Obasanjo falsely claimed that Chief Bode George misled him on the purpose of the church service. Needless to mention that Chief George himself never took kindly to that lie by his Commander-in-Chief against him.

Demonising Obasanjo? Again, the correct position is that the man demonises himself. All we do is to report every occasion he demonises himself. Like the latest episode. Less than three months ago, former Vice- President Atiku Abubakar was warned in this column (yes, in this column) to expect his unwarranted demolition by Obasanjo as he (Obasanjo) is wont.

Probably, Chief Bode George regarded that rebuke of Atiku Abubakar as another demonisation of Obasanjo. Surely not, and if at all it was such, Obasanjo has vindicated that demonisation by, once again, demonising himself.

Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar had, as part of his lobbying for support for his presidential aspiration in 2019, specially gone to solicit Obasanjo’s endorsement.

That was not an act of desperation by Atiku Abubakar. Instead, he, quite rightly too, might have thought every support counted. But Obasanjo? The man supports nobody except himself and perhaps anybody he anticipated to nose-lead even in power. Find out from Goodluck Jonathan, ex-President.

The rebuke for Atiku Abubakar in this column after his visit to Obasanjo was that if he (Atiku Abubakar) were ever to win the 2019 presidential race, it was politically suicidal for him to have gone to lobby Obasanjo who, as predicted in this column, would never endorse him (Abubakar). That prediction was as blunt as that. Atiku was made to understand in this column that Obasanjo is notorious for reciprocating good with bad. It is very natural with Obasanjo. The ex-Vice President was furthermore to understand that any surprise endorsement by Obasanjo would be a very reason Yoruba might not even vote for Atiku Abubakar.

Could that rebuke for Atiku Abubakar be another demonising of Obasanjo? The man, ever predictable, has behaved to type. Let’s recall 2002, Obasanjo lobbied Atiku Abubakar to support him for a second term in 2003 even against agreement with northern leaders that Obasanjo would run for only one term, ending in 2003. As it turned out, Obasanjo not only served the second term but also plotted to become life President, a plot which till today he denies but is well-documented in the memoirs of former American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Despite Atiku Abubakar’s good gesture by supporting Obasanjo’s second term ending in 2007, the same Obasanjo humiliated Atiku Abubakar out of office and withdrew all his security and personal staff. For the 2019 elections, Atiku Abubakar still humbled himself by seeking Obasanjo’s support. What has happened? Just as predicted in this column a few months ago, Obasanjo lately and arrogantly bragged that if he (Obasanjo) endorsed Atiku Abubakar, God would not forgive him (Obasanjo).

What, therefore, was the value or the need for Atiku’s lobbying of Obasanjo? Self-defeat. There is nothing new in Obasanjo’s conduct or misconduct in the matter of opposing Atiku Abubakar for 2019. Was Obasanjo being demonised for correctly predicting him that he never wishes anybody well? If Atiku Abubakar loses in 2019, his fate would not have been because Obasanjo refused to endorse him. Instead, such defeat would have been by a very formidable opponent – Muhammadu Buhari.