The Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, has come through some meandering trail; a rugged pathway chosen for him by the forces forging the nation’s past and present. Forced to the wall, the only way has since been fighting back or be silenced.
Dr. Saraki’s story is reminiscent of the hunting dog and the hunter who sets out on a hunting expedition. The hunter knows his dane gun would only do little. He needed the ferocious hunting dog. It has prowess and ways with wild animals. It can follow theirs scents and ferret them out of their hiding places. It can overrun the wild animals and, with its canines, sink its teeth into the killing hold. The hunter can then finish off the game.
Then the twosome would head home again, congratulating each other for a good outing, the hunter whistling for good fortune while the fawning dog stages mock hunts as they go home.
Once home, the hunter's wife prepares the game. The woman had no idea what the hunter and his dog went through to bring home a kill. Now, the game is cooking and the dog is lurking around and waiting for a bite off its own gallant labour. The hunter, forgetting all, turns to the wife and instructs, "chase the dog away. It may carry away the cooking meat". That's the story of Saraki, the nPDP and APC.
Juxtaposed, it was the nPDP, that gave the APC victory and ushered Buhari into Aso Rock in 2015 but got chased away afterward.
Dr. Saraki had held that since the nPDP was legitimately one of the four legacy blocks that merged and meshed into the APC, going for the office of the Senate President was a fitting reward for his group’s efforts. After all, the votes delivered by the 5 nPDP states surpassed the votes delivered by the entire South West. Kano alone delivered nearly 2 million votes to APC in the turbocharged election where less than 3m votes separated Buhari and Jonathan.
Surprisingly, once Buhari was declared the President-elect and like the hunter who forgot the dog, a cabal seized the reins of power and began to allocate positions at whim and to dispense favours. The cabal easily signed off the office of the Senate President and Speaker to Senator Ahmed Lawan and Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila respectively, not minding whether or not they were popular with their colleagues.
For the office of the Senate President particularly, the APC conducted a straw vote, ostensibly to prove to Saraki that Lawan was a better choice. Two baskets were put out and labeled ‘Saraki’ and ‘Lawan’, and the senators-elect forced to vote between them in the open. Without secrecy, the party denied itself the chance of knowing between Saraki and Lawan who was really preferred by the Senators-elect. Cajoled, Lawan predictably won.
As it later turned out also, APC also forgot that it enjoyed only a slim majority in the 109 House, where opposition PDP had 49 senators and spoiling to join the fray, and could decide who became what. Armed with section According to Section 50 (1) (a) of the 1999 constitution as amended: “A President and Deputy President of the Senate, shall be elected by the members of that House from among themselves.” The above section doesn’t bar lawmakers from the minority political party in parliament from seeking the position of senate president. it was easy for the PDP to make anybody a deal and split the offices.
Recall that in the buildup to the election of presiding officers of the 8th Senate, PDP came with 49 Senators. APC had 59 (Ahmed Zannah, Borno Central, died before the inauguration). The Senate Unity Forum (33 APC Senators-elect) endorsed Senator Ahmed Lawan, while 26 Like Minds were for Saraki. In other words, it was not the PDP alone that produced Saraki as Senate President; it was a collaboration of the PDP and the Like Minds senators.
Whoever is arguing that the presence of the APC (Unity Forum) senators who decided to go to International Conference Centre would have ensured a different outcome argue amiss. Though Saraki was elected unopposed, Senator Ike Ekweremadu was elected by 52 Senators, whereas the PDP senators were 49, clearly proving that some APC senators equally voted for Ekweremadu, while 20 voted for Senator Ali Ndume who ran for the office Deputy Senate President.
The reason the jittery APC Senators ran to the International Conference Centre was because they knew that the Like Minds senators teaming up with PDP Senators would spell doom to their fate. That was why the group desperately wanted President Buhari, who had already directed the Clerk of National Assembly to proclaim the National Assembly at 10 a.m. same day, to double back and compel the Like Minds Senators to toe party line.
Having failed to stop Saraki from emerging, the cabal in the party resorted to persecution and prosecution even on trumped-up criminal charges. one of which had to be quashed by the Supreme Court after 3 years. Even after Supreme Court’s and lower Courts’ exoneration, the Police is still trying hard to link Saraki with the Offa bank robbery. The desperation of the ruling party to force Sen.Bukola Saraki and Sen Ike Ekweremadu out of office and have them replaced with Lawan, Akume and Akpabio who just defected under most curious circumstance is false sense of entitlement.
Since litigations and intimidations have not yielded Saraki and Ekweremadu’s ouster as envisaged, force is now being applied. The first futile attempt was the brazen attempt by a suspended Senator invaded the Senate with some thugs who took away the mace. Till today, the Police claim they are yet to apprehend the invaders of the Senate Chamber despite the desecration happening at his instance of the suspended senator and in full glare of cameras.
Since Saraki defected back to the PDP, after the example of Speaker Aminu Waziri Tambuwal (as he then was) who left PDP for APC in October 2014 and still kept his office, the APC and its militant new Chairman have intensified the use of force to see that Saraki and Ekweremadu vacate office.
Adams Oshiohmole has an experience in this extrajudicial method. When he was Governor of Edo state, he saw to the forceful and unconstitutional removal of the State’s Speaker and had him impeached by a simple majority despite the express provisions of the section179 of the constitution, which states that removal of the Speaker could only be by the affirmative vote of 2/3rd of the elected members of the House.
To Oshiohmole therefore, the same treatment should be meted out to Saraki and Ekweremadu and let them go to court and obtain a pyrrhic victory since the tenure of the 8th Senate must have expired by the time such respite would come their way. What is more, the Court of Appeal has twice settled and rested the issue of 2/3rd as the 2/3rd of the total number elected into the House, in the cases of Asogwa v. Chukwu, and the President v. National Assembly both in 2003.
In all their travails, Nigerians are watching, miffed, and wondering why APC is trying so desperately and farcically to remove Saraki and Ekweremadu without following the laid-down procedures in the nation’s Constitution.
For the avoidance doubt, two Senate Presidents, namely, Senators Evans Enwerem and Chuba Okadigbo, were impeached in this dispensation. Enwerem was impeached by 90 senators; 2 voted against. Okadigbo was impeached by 82 senators; 14 voted against.
Yet, despite these glaring exemplary historical antecedents and express constitutional provisions that have made the issue of 2/3rd so trite, APC is brazenly pushing to impeach Saraki and Ekweremadu perhaps with only 29 senators that were said to sign up as at the day Daura’s DSS invaded to Senate to effect a forceful removal of the two presiding officers.
In this entire saga, Saraki and Ekweremadu have carved the images of martyrs of democracy. If this democracy has got a face, Saraki and Ekweremadu are the ones. It isn’t an achievement by design; it is an achievement by default. The duo have become faces of democracy for the reason of their unwarranted and fascist persecution.
• Law Mefor is an Abuja based Forensic/Social Psychologist and Journalist; e-mail: [email protected]