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Saraki/Oshiomhole drama: Who blinks first?


If the face-off lingers on for too long, then Nigerians may be in for another round of economic hardship… The question now is: who blinks first?

Omomiyi Salaudeen

The ongoing political drama occasioned by the recent defection of the Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki, from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) may be the last battle that would redefine the extent and limitation of powers between the executive and legislative arms of government.

Since the new realignment that saw many lawmakers defecting to the PDP, tongues have been wagging over the legality or otherwise of the action.

While the National Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adam Oshiomhole, was quick to declare Saraki’s seat vacant and called for his impeachment, the National Assembly in a smart move adjourned the plenary till September 25, presumably to forestall any untoward development.

Already, the battle line has been drawn, as every move is now being made to ensure that Saraki does not return to the hallowed chamber as Senate President. Oshiomhole during his meeting with APC lawmakers in Abuja on Monday categorically declared: “As a party, we don’t believe in inducing lawmakers to achieve our legitimate goal of removing Saraki as Senate president. We will get the support of some PDP senators to get the required 2/3 vote and impeach Saraki. We are already talking to some of PDP senators who believe and support the direction of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to achieve our legitimate goal”.

READ ALSO: We’re already collecting signatures for Saraki’s impeachment – Farouk Aliyu

He made this declaration against the backdrop of an alleged attempt by Saraki to induce lawmakers with the sum of N1million to prevent his impeachment.

Interestingly, all these are coming at a time when the executive is pleading with the National Assembly to reconvene to deliberate on some urgent national issues bothering on supplementary budget for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), approval of foreign loans to finance the 2018 budget, as well as approval of nomination of some new appointees of government.

The Senior Special Adviser (SSA) to the President on National Assembly, Ita Enang, in appealing to the lawmakers to reconvene, said that the supplementary funds would enable INEC to commence preparation for the 2019 polls. He also stressed the need for speedy approval of pending key appointments for the EFCC, ICPC, Deputy CBN Governor and AMCON, among others.

But as the lobbying continues, both Oshiomhole and Saraki have been at loggerheads, calling each other unprintable names. Oshiomhole in his recent vituperation described Saraki as the worst Senate President Nigeria has ever produced, adding that he has been working against the interest of the APC since the inception of the 8th National Assembly.

The intrigue that led to the emergence of Saraki as Senate President against the wish of his party at the inception of the present National Assembly is a familiar story. And now that he has finally jumped ship, APC could not contend with the opposition minority party leading the Senate. In a bid to regain the control of the National Assembly, all measures are, therefore, being pursued to ease out Saraki, including the promise of automatic return ticket to the loyal lawmakers.

“High turnover of legislators is not a value to be celebrated. What we should celebrate is experience, which cannot be read in books, but can only be acquired on the job. I want to reassure you that we will do everything possible to change the old narrative of heavy turnover every four years and the politics of ‘you have done enough’ will change over time for the good of Nigeria and for the sustenance of democracy,” Oshiomhole told the lawmakers.

Saraki in his response berated Oshiomhole for his poor knowledge of history of how parliament works. In a statement by his media aide, Yusuf Olaniyonu, Saraki said: “Perhaps, Mr. Oshiomhole needs to be better educated about our parliamentary history. For the first time in parliamentary history in Nigeria, we had a situation where the APC had majority of senators and went on to elect a PDP as Deputy Senate President.

READ ALSO: We’re already collecting signatures for Saraki’s impeachment – Farouk Aliyu

“Where was Mr Oshiomhole when Senator John Wash Pam of the Nigerian People’s Party (NPP) became Deputy Senate President in the Second Republic even when the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) had the majority. The same thing happened in the House of Representatives when NPP’s Rt. Hon. Edwin Ume-Ezeoke was elected Speaker in an NPN majority house. But then, it would require a level of education to understand these things.”

Former Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee for the 2014 national conference, Senator Femi Okurounmu, lending his voice to Saraki’s argument in an interview with Sunday Sun, said there was no strange thing about the recent development in the National Assembly.

His words: “Oshiomhole is just crying like a frustrated man; there is nothing happening now that has not happened before. So, he should stop crying. There is nothing to compel Saraki to resign as Senate President. He has defected on the ground that there is factionalisation in APC. If people say there is no faction in APC, that is an issue to be settled by the court. Alliance for Democracy was the first victim of that constitution between 1999 and 2003 during Obasanjo regime when a number of AD were hijacked by the PDP on the ground that there was factionalisation in the party. So, Saraki does not have to resign on the ground of his defection because there is factionalisation in the APC.

Speaking on the threat of impeachment, he said: “Impeachment requires 2/3 majority of the Senate. And I don’t think any party has majority in the National Assembly right now. If they want to impeach Saraki tomorrow, they can do it if they have 2/3 majority. But I doubt if they have the number. Again, there is nowhere it is stated that Senate President must come from majority party. The only requirement is that the Senate must elect its own president.


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Posted by on Aug 18 2018. Filed under All Peoples' Congress (APC), Latest Politics, Legislature, Party Politics, Senate. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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