OBIDATT2023 Showdown Music Concert

OBIDATT2023 Showdown Music Concert

Friday 26 June 2015

It’s Time For Buhari To Take Control

The lingering crisis in the All Progressive Congress (APC) over the choice of its National Assembly leadership - though not unexpected due to our seemingly constant penchant to always put the cart before the horse in most situations in Nigeria, because of personal interest rather than the interest of Nigerians - has become one unnecessary crisis whose blame should lie squarely on the shoulders of President Muhammadu Buhari. Muhammadu Buhari
By trying to be an aplomb diplomat and making a departure from the past when his predecessors meddled into the choice of leaders for the National Assembly, President Buhari has ended up playing into the hands of his critics, the opposition party PDP, as well as influential members of his party who should have known better and offer him the right advice. I should have written about this long before the crisis within the APC started but I did not follow the whole series of event culminating in the June 9 National Assembly leadership elections as I thought the APC party leadership would get things right despite Buhari’s wrong insistence that he would not interfere in the affairs of the legislative arm in choosing its leaders.
While it would amount to a disproportionate interference in the legislative arm of government by Buhari should he meddle in their legislative duties, there is nothing like interference in choosing party members that would advance the policies and agendas of President Buhari as APC leaders in the National Assembly thus the president was wrong to have stayed out of the selection and elective process leading up to the June 9 Assembly elections. The constitution is clear that the Senate and House Representatives would produce it’s Senate President, Speaker and deputies from the rank of the party with the most members, so its strictly an affair for the ruling party. Furthermore, the Senate and House of Representatives standing rules also make it clear that leaders for both houses would come from the party with the most members, thus making it a party function.
At the moment the ruling or governing party in Nigeria is the APC, and prior to June 9, 2015, it had three main leaders namely : The President (Muhammadu Buhari), Vice-President (Yemi Osinbajo) and Party chairman (Odigie Oyegun), between those three, the leaders of the 8th Bicameral National Assembly should have been well articulated and possibly produced before the inauguration of the legislature on June 9th. The effect of not getting that done led to so many push and pull factors that has left the party in crisis and produced legislative leaders particularly in the Senate that may not advance the policies and agendas of President Buhari as they should.
Why should Buhari take control of the APC? Because he is the defacto National leader of the party, being the President and major face of the party. In the United States (US) and United Kingdom (UK) where we copy most of our democratic norms from that is the simple logic adopted to enforce party cohesion, discipline and supremacy. Take a look at the website of the Democratic party in the US and President Barack Obama is listed as the leader of the party, followed by the Vice-President (Joe Biden), The Senate Democratic leader, House Democratic leader and then the Chair of the party. In the UK, on the Conservative party’s website David Cameron is listed as the UK Prime Minister and leader of the party.
If we choose to copy democratic norms from them, then we have to copy it properly not invent our own kind of democracy, as that would lead to chaos as we see at present in the APC. Like I said it was not a surprise to me as we saw many of that at the start of the opposition PDP’s locust years in 1999 when they first came into power, but you would think the APC had learnt from all that. If there are any influential members within the APC who want certain party members to be elected as National Assembly leaders they would need to present superior arguments and ideas to President Buhari as to why that particular member would best advance Buhari’s policies and agendas within the legislature, not by arm-twisting, shock tactics or mudslinging. While the Speaker of the House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara was duly elected by his colleagues, there remains question marks over Senator Bukola Saraki’s emergence as Senate President and having an opposition member as his deputy.
Such anomaly may remain for now for the sake of stability, but there is no way you would expect an opposition member to advance the agenda of President Buhari and the APC, hence my insistence that the president got it wrong in not calling the shots ahead of the National Assembly leadership elections. He should have fearlessly thrown his weight behind party members he would have preferred as leaders within both Houses as it’s strictly a party affair going by the constitution and rules of both houses, and as the defacto leader of the party he has every right to do so. If any influential member of the party preferred another candidate to his, then it has to be discussed within the party confines and superior arguments and ideas presented to arrive at the right choice. Nobody argues against superior ideas or arguments except a fool, especially when it's done in a democratic-participative way but people can kick against autocratic dictation, self-seeking imposition, and political grandstanding.
At the moment the main national leaders of the APC are President Buhari, VP Osinbajo, Senator Saraki, Speaker Dogara and Party Chairman Oyegun in that order. Thus for Saraki to be able to work together with the VP who is his boss he needs to apologise publicly for calling him a ‘mere commissioner’ in the heat of the political gunfire exchanges before the Senate leadership elections on June 9th if indeed he said such words. Not only was that rude it demonstrates the typical lack of culture and chivalry that you find in most Nigerian politicians. The Senate though anomalous looks quite settled in terms of its leadership but President Buhari may still have a say on that should he choose too, especially if Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu (PDP) does the most honourable thing and resigns.
For the House of Representatives, asides from the normal election of Yakubu Dogara (APC) as Speaker, everything else has degenerated into a farce culminating in the fisticuffs seen on national TV on Thursday June 25th, with elected Representatives acting like kids on the American show “Kids Say the Darndest Things”. While one side were shouting like kids :“Dogara, Dogara” - which is half true as he is now a national leader of the House and the APC - the other side were chorusing back also like kids : “APC, APC” - which is fully true as the party must have supremacy in the choice of its legislative leaders, but they were all doing it in the wrong way and if the President had taken control of the party it should not have come down to such “Kiddies Show Time” like we saw on Thursday just gone.
It’s about a month President Buhari was inaugurated and so far so good he’s shown leadership in many respects particularly in putting Governors in their place in terms of not allowing them select upcoming Ministers and Advisers for his government. He’s demonstrated to them that he leads the party unlike the way it was under the PDP where governors led the party nationally, but he needs to now assert his leadership over the whole party and sort out the National Assembly crisis once and for all. Election of Assembly leaders is a party issue and the party’s wishes must take supremacy over anyone’s ambitions.
Its leaders must be the ones that would advance the policies and agendas of the President and their party as it’s Buhari and the APC who would suffer for it in 2019 should it all go pear-shaped on the legislative front. No one is calling for a rubber-stamp legislature, but at the least its leaders must share the same vision as the President especially if they belong to a similar party. Wherever they disagree on policies and agendas, it must be because they have superior ideas to that of the President and the party, or would want the Judicial arm to give interpretation to certain policies. That is the beauty of democracy - check and balances and full democratic participation by every arm of government to better the lots of the country and its citizenry.
President Buhari has between now and July 21st when the House of Representatives reconvenes to show leadership and sort out the mess in the National Assembly, putting to bed its needless leadership crisis and take control of the APC, at the moment he’s not shown enough leadership on that front and it would surely affect his policies and agendas for millions of Nigerians hoping for a new way of life in our country.

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