BY May Ubeku
WITH the campaign that a ‘New Nigeria is possible’ during the 2015 General Election by the All Progressive Congress (APC) and the recent ‘Change Begins With Me’ campaign, one would have expected a deviant in the way a change-preaching political party would run its government from the Presidency to the National Assembly down to the States and the Local Government Areas. But that is not the case as it seems nothing has changed anyway. The permutation of Nigerians to experience a new Nigeria under the APC led-government has come to become a mirage.
Shocked by the endless conflicts that have constantly emerged from the floor of the Nigerian Senate since its inception, one must admit that the 8th National Assembly with APC members in the majority is the most theatrical senate in the history of the Third Republic. An assembly that cannot amicably resolve its leadership crisis but has allowed the crisis to affect legislative matters causing an ‘off and on’ rift either between its members or with the executive arm of government is one senate assembly that has charted its course on the wrong path of history regardless of its achievements.
Thus earlier the senate makes amends to resolve its persistent crises within the remaining two years of its existence, the better for democracy and governance.
The first and still lingering crisis that has kept the Senate in this unhealthy state was caused by the election of the National Assembly leadership that didn’t go well with former Lagos State Governor and an APC chieftain, Bola Ahmed Tinubu that contributed to the emergence of this present government.
Evident in his wife, Senator Remi Tinubu’s reaction, Remi didn’t hide her disapproval of the leadership of the 8th Assembly by an open confrontation with the Senate President, Bukola Saraki. Caught on camera pointing a hand at Saraki’s face and sitting on the seat reserved for the Deputy Senate President (DSP), it is clear, the Tinubus are at war with the leadership of the Senate. At some point, the face-off between Tinubu and Saraki spilled over to one of Saraki’s ally, the pugnacious Senator Dino Melaye who didn’t waste time in washing the senate’s dirty linen publicly for an issue that could have been resolved on the floor of the house
Abandoning the floor of the senate to settle his rift with Tinubu, Melaye took a trip from Abuja to Lagos, to call out the Tinubus for a fight on Bourdillon Street – a street that houses the home of the Tinubus and several other former governors. Coming from a distinguished ‘change’ senator, this act was to be economical, very distasteful and most dishonourable. Yet, the controversies within the senate didn’t stop there.
Next on the senate’s ‘enemy list’ was the presidency who took sides with the leadership of the APC, frowning at the emergence of Saraki as Senate president and a PDP senator, Ike Ekweremadu as DSP. Few months after, the presidency fired back. Saraki was put on trial for wrongful declaration of assets by the federal government. This incident thereafter led to the discord between the executives and the legislators. It is still unresolved at this moment.
The continuous rejection to confirm Ibrahim Magu as the Chairman of Economic and Financial Crime Commission and the refusal of the senate to screen 27 INEC Commissioners recently nominated by the Executive is a pointer to the fact that both arms are not ready to sheathe their swords. How the nation would fair under such an unhealthy relationship between the senate and the executive is a cause for worry.
On the list of the senate controversies, is the Senator Ali Ndume saga. Senator Ndume was dispossessed of his position as majority leader some months ago. This also didn’t go down well with him. As expected from a troubled senate engulfed in so many crises, Ndume sought for ways to get back at those he perceived to be behind his ordeal. He went to war with some of colleagues, Bukola Saraki and Dino Melaye. Ndume accused both men of importing a Range Rover Jeep with fake documents and perjury respectively. The senate investigated, found Ndume guilty and suspended him for 181 legislative days.
With the continuous showdowns, face-offs and, accusations and counter-accusations emanating from a senate that consumes a huge part of the nation’s budget, it is pertinent to note that the senate is fast becoming a theatre of unending dramas. As a matter of urgency, the senate needs to redirect its steps to reposition the senate against all odds to focus solely on why they were elected to represent the people.