I am really at a loss about how to respond to the column of my friend, Femi Orebe on the 8th Senate. He correctly identified my exasperation with things as they are. But more than being exasperated, Orebe might never understand the magnitude of the harrowing sorrow I daily feel pertaining in general to the sordid affairs of my country and in particular to the nadir of disrepute to which the senate has been sunk. So discouraged have I been of late that by last week, I had begun to see myself as a colossal failure in my foray into Nigerian politics. I had seriously considered going back to Ilesa Grammar School, my alma mater, to teach science.
In my previous incarnations as an academic and as a business man, failure or giving up had never been a considered option. In these earlier enterprises, my success or lack of it was largely dependent on my efforts and determination. By contrast, as a politician, I have perennially found myself walking and dancing in paths littered with opalaba (pieces of broken glass bottles). My success now depends almost equally or perhaps even more on others than on myself!
I foresaw the current crisis in the eighth senate long before its inauguration on June 9, 2015. I pleaded endlessly with Senators Bukola Saraki and Ahmad Lawan for a consensus that would make one of them the Senate President and the other the Deputy Senate President. I requested to lock both of them in a room and to open the room only after they have reached a consensus or after one of them had killed the other! Had my efforts succeeded, my party, the Senate and my country might have been spared the crisis of the last many months.
Candidate Buhari campaigned on a platform that included a determined assault on corruption; he was hailed and resoundingly elected because a majority of Nigerians believed he was preeminently qualified to wage and win that war. I have always felt that if such a war were to be diligently waged, there will not be enough rooms in Nigerian prisons to hold public office holders who would be found guilty. And if the truth be told, these might include most of those supporting Saraki as well as most of those opposed to him! And I am talking here of supporters and opponents either from within or outside the National Assembly. The interview I granted to Tell magazine in 2009 revealed enough on crass legislooting.
Many have wondered why I have been less vocal as a senator than I was during my tenure as a member of the House of Reps. I feel great pain when insinuations are made that I had been bought. Those pains rose to the fore following the publication of the phone numbers of all senators by Sahara Reporters.
I am probably the only Senator in Nigeria who has only one phone number. It would have been easy to get a new phone number. These days, phones come with apps that can filter out calls from numbers that are not on the phone's contact list. Perhaps my error was my refusal to take either of these easy options. Instead, I chose to answer as many calls and texts as possible. They came in a deluge! I got calls from the UK, USA, Canada, Germany and far away Australia. A few of the messages included racy photographs from ladies who obviously had little interest in matters of public policy! About half of the calls from within Nigeria were solicitations for help in securing employment or in getting financial assistance. Mercifully, some prayed for and encouraged me to keep faith. Some made legitimate enquiries and did so in quite civil language and tone. Others like Dokun Adedeji were unkind and needlessly rude.
I had taken a decision to respond to each call or text message in its own tone. I would match civility for civility, diligence with diligence, rudeness for rudeness, and curse for curse. Contrary to the accusation of Dokun Adedeji, I did not partake of selling my party's majority to reactionaries. I have I betrayed no one. Rather, on many occasions, I have informed my party caucus, APC leaders, and my senate colleagues of my readiness to give up my office as Chief Whip for the sake of resolving the most embarrassing quagmire in the senate. I did so as recently as last Wednesday during the Executive session of the senate.
In decrying my choice of deprecatory epithets to respond to Dokun Adedeji, Femi Orebe obviously saw no wrong in my being unfairly portrayed as a sellout. Orebe also left out my latter response to Dokun Adedeji that included my reasons for not to speaking on some matters.
Back in High School, there was a Negro Spiritual we often sang "NOBODY KNOWS THE TROUBLE I SEE." Two days ago (Friday, April 22), I was on my way to Osogbo so I could see my Governor and thereafter proceed to Ora Igbomina, my hometown, when I got a call summoning me to Abuja for a meeting with the President at 3 p.m. I made an immediate U-turn racing to the Ibadan Airport while praying for a miracle to catch a flight. I was panting and sweating by the time I boarded the plane which miraculously had waited for me. The plane took off immediately I took my seat. However, as I switched on my phone after landing in Abuja, an sms message was delivered with a message that the meeting in the villa has been postponed!
Despite the intense pain and sorrows that I have borne in the last many months, I remain grateful to God for the rare opportunity to serve as a senator of my country. I am particularly grateful to Femi Falana who counseled me last week not to resign as Senator. Although every forest begins with a tree, I have found out that the adage that a tree does not make a tree is particularly most apt in the forest of politics. Although Dokun Adedeji's text did not say so, perhaps his vilification is not directed at me personally as Orebe alluded. Perhaps! Hence, I apologize to Dokun, Femi Orebe and others whom I have disappointed for taking the issues so personal. We live and learn.
Prof. Sola Adeyeye
Senate of Nigeria
DOKUN ADEDEJI, about his exchanges with Senator Adeyeye
Dokun adedeji [email protected]
Apr 21 (4 days ago)
I thought I should bring this to the notice of all discerning Nigerians to enable you to make your deduction as to why our Senate is what it is.
As I said yesterday, I sent texts to groups of Senators, and some responded while a majority went silent for whatever reasons.
I will now share with you the text I sent to a group which Prof Olusola Adeyeye belong to:
Are u with your constituents on the matter of CHANGE for our country?
U sold ur majority to reactionaries for immediate advantage. U have betrayed us! We regret.
And below is his response:
I have stood steadfastly with my party and constituents because there is neither enough weapons in Nigeria to frighten my soul nor enough money to buy my conscience.
Only Liars and bastards accuse the innocent. May God forgive you, Dokun Adedeji.
I had held Prof Adeyeye in high esteem, nd this has not changed with his text.
If there are men of conscience in that Senate,w e should not be hearing their voices upon accusations like mine. They should stand up to be counted as individuals not as closet dissenters to the shenanigans there.
We are all tenants of history!
The 8th Senate
Posted By: Femi Orebeon: April 24, 2016In: Femi OrebeNo Comments
The more I read his subsequent responses, the more I saw a public servant who considers himself beyond, and above, being questioned by citizens from whom he, and his other colleagues, earn grotesquely more than a fair share of the national patrimony
I wish to start off this article with an honest caveat, which is, that Professor Sola Adeyeye, a senator of the Federal Republic, is a man I respect very much. That affirmation made, I shall proceed to write about Senator Adeyeye, not as the Omoluabi I thought I know, but rather as a typical member of the 8th senate given the fact that the rodomontade, the arrogance, the bluster and the haughtiness Nigerians now see daily oozing from that hallowed chamber, must surely have gotten to this otherwise respected academic. Even as disreputable as the 8th Senate has turned out to be, with its members absconding from the duties for which they earn disproportionately, in droves, daily following its president to a tribunal defending a barrage of truly horrendous charges apart from mercilessly mutilating the annual budget and making it completely inoperable, I had naively believed that we still had some exemplars there, amongst them, Senator Adeyeye. But no more; not with the incident I shall proceed to painstakingly report here. A socially responsible Dokun Adedeji, a Medical Doctor, and dye in the wool Buhari supporter, had felt so serially mentally assaulted by the shenanigans of this senate that he decided to intellectually engage with its members. In groups, he wrote to them as follows and the subsequent dialogue between him and Senator Adeyeye ensued: “Are you with your constituents on the matter of CHANGE for our country? You sold your majority to reactionaries for immediate advantage. You have betrayed us! We regret”. It was to this very simple question and observation to which, completely out of sync, an otherwise distinguished Professor Sola Adeyeye who, as a result of his education, long sojourn within that hallowed chamber of supposedly elder statesmen as well as his having logged decades, living and working in the U S, one had come to see far beyond falling victim of the Yoruba wisecrack: ‘aguntan to ba ba aja rin … – a sheep found in the colony of dogs eating dung, responded in this thoroughly unexpected manner even though he must have realised that the question was not addressed to him in his personal capacity: “I have stood steadfastly with my party and constituents because there is neither enough weapons in Nigeria to frighten my soul nor enough money to buy my conscience,” a line I once heard him say on television. “Only Liars and bastards accuse the innocent. May God forgive you, Dokun Adedeji.”
Still eager to have a decent dialogue rather than some haughty insults, Dr Adedeji replied: “Prof, I understand your anger but your response is inexcusable. You belong to this Senate and I have no barometer of assessment save your statements and reports of your dissension, if any. Prof, I know, for instance, that you lived and lectured in America. Were you in doubt at any time as to where Senator McCain stood on any issue? Is that question too much to ask of you? I am not an Internet noise maker like your colleague- the Common Sense Senator – but I ask that you try to Google me if you have the time! Our nation is in dire need of leaders who care and love her! If you allow the reactionaries to hold sway, your coming back is a waste.”
Rather than soberly interrogate the dire issues raised by Dr Adedeji as both an academic, a professor to boot, as well as a member of that otherwise respected chamber from whom much is expected, Senator Adeyeye behaved, true to type, like one of Nigerians’ new ‘bosses’ at the National Assembly from where the likes of Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin usually talk down to us. He furiously wrote back: “Unfortunately, I do not know you enough to say that I am equally disappointed in you. Suffice to say that I am disgusted at anyone who would do no fact finding before lying against me and hauling needless accusation on the innocent.” Conversely, a much calmer Adedeji wrote back: ‘Prof, did u truly write this? I am thoroughly disappointed to know that a ‘Distinguished’ Senator of Nigeria would descend this low with such language! Very sad.”
It must be said that Senator Sola Adeyeye is, indeed, the Senate leader, if that will tell us anything about this red chamber.
When I saw the earlier exchanges, as the senator’s responses were meticulously served on our web portal, the Ekitipanupo, I assumed they came out of an exasperation with a senate that has become famous for all the wrong reasons which could, in turn, enervate any decent member. The more I read his subsequent responses, the more I saw a public servant who considers himself beyond, and above, being questioned by citizens from whom he, and his other colleagues, earn grotesquely more than a fair share of the national patrimony. All these would have been funny were we not talking here of an otherwise, sober and respected member of the senate who had popped up many times in that chamber to, unlike most of his colleagues, show that he has a place in his heart for the poor masses of this country. In this respect, he had many times been literally about the lone ranger. However, this below par performance, which saw a senate ranking member resort to absolutely repugnant words in answer to a responsible and politically aware citizen, is one reason the senate must very quickly re-examine itself lest Nigerians give it the ‘Senegal treatment’ at the next available opportunity.
While at this, it may not be out of place to observe that the shenanigans of Senate President Bukola Saraki may not abate until the entire Nigerian judicial system is brought into complete disrepute. He has not only been lawyer- shopping – he currently has as his lead counsel, Kanu Agabi, the alleged mentor of not only the chief prosecution counsel but that of the tribunal chairman as well – and as we saw this past week at the Code of Conduct Tribunal where he was asking the judge to disqualify himself, he may yet be back asking the Supreme Court to reverse its earlier decision in this very case. Now it seems to me like the problem with this country is no longer just the National Assembly, repugnant as it is, but Nigeria itself. What exactly is it with Nigeria? Are we now reaping the whirlwind of the winds sown by the likes of IBB and OBJ? One was the father of what was called New Breed politicians but which Nigerians regard more as New Greed politicians or is it Obasanjo’s unremitting impunity that has come back to haunt us? A study of the dramatis personae on our political spectrum today will show that a greater preponderance of those presently in our political life have their roots in the Babangida -Obasanjo era; a period during which the Nigerian moral fibre suffered its greatest diminution as epitomised by an increase in corruption and election rigging beyond anything we ever knew in this country. If in 1999, Obasanjo exposed budget padding by the National Assembly leadership and ensured they had their day in court, today budget padding has become the norm; not just with the leadership but just about anybody in those chambers can insert billions in the name of his/her ‘constituency’ where he most probably has no office. Heading to courts, like our 99 SANs or accompanying the wife of their boss to EFCC offices has become the norm in preference to making laws for the good governance of the country. Indeed, our legislators would now rather bring down the house, the way they rushed their CCT amendment bill through the first and second readings, even when the PIB bill, unattended, has taken a permanent residence in their custody. And in the particular case of the Senate President, I think the time has come to plead with him to spare that distinguished chamber the ordeal and low esteem it has ominously attracted to itself. Senator Bukola Saraki, scion of the redoubtable Saraki family of Ilorin, should be told by whoever loves him, that there is life after Senate Presidency. He should also be informed that, sans being able to dispense patronage as he had generously done in that chamber, he would hardly find a quarter of his so-called supporters behind his back. I think they should realise that it is time Nigerians stopped asking: what a senate? What manner of senators?
Enough is enough.
The exchanges below show pure citizen activism, and responsiveness, sometimes tutored and tortured, of its representatives.
The Eighth Senate is showing all of its un-glory - it ain't pretty. But there is hope......
And there you have it.
Prof. Mobolaji Aluko