The politics of Saraki’s defection

The politics of Saraki’s defection

Since that audacious and momentous defection, the ruling party is in a state of dilemma and has ceaselessly grieved and whined like a wounded puppy…

Sunday Onyemaechi Eze

The ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) will never forget July 31 in a hurry. That day was one of the darkest in the annals of the ruling party which stood on the high shoulders of political defectors to clinch the crown in 2015. The President of the Senate Abubakar Bukola Saraki, fifteen others and some members of the House of Representatives gladly burnt their brooms and took refuge under the umbrella of the Peoples Democratic Party – a party they maligned, demonised and eventually dumped in the run up to the 2015 general elections. The exit of the President of the Senate, his political allies and members of the National Assembly from the APC was a calculated electoral eve sucker punch dealt on the ruling party. This was after it was alleged that the police detained his convoy the other day to frustrate the defection plan without success. Deputy President of the Senate Ike Ekweremadu was not lucky as he was placed under house arrest and prevented from attending that day’s plenary for the same reason.

READ ALSO: APC taunts Saraki, Ekweremadu

Since that audacious and momentous defection, the ruling party is in a state of dilemma and has ceaselessly grieved and whined like a wounded puppy on account of the exodus of these one-time staunch party men. For weeks running, the removal of Saraki has remained top on the agenda of Adams Oshiomhole and the leadership of APC. The party and its organs are extremely bitter and have not hidden its intention to change the Senate leadership either by hook or crook.

Adams Oshiomhole, the chairman of the party, has threatened that Saraki should resign or be removed from office… Oshiomole asserts, “in any case, Saraki is not going to be the first senate president to be impeached and I doubt if he is going to be the last but definitely he will be impeached according to law and to democratic norms. The only way Saraki can avoid impeachment is for him to do what is honourable which again leads to the issue of character.”

For this reason, there is growing tension in the Senate and the entire polity. Many are concerned about the approach of Adams Oshiomhole to remove the Senate President and his Deputy. Pro-Saraki and Pro- APC/Buhari groups have been holding clandestine meetings aimed at outwitting each other on or before the resumption of the adjourned plenary considering the obvious desperation of Oshiohmole to effect the impeachment agenda.

READ ALSO: Court declines to stop Saraki’s impeachment

The siege laid on the National Assembly by hooded agents of the Directorate of State Security Services which led to the fall of Lawal Daura was not unconnected to the desperation to remove Saraki. Daura was simply a fall guy who was hounded out of office for exhibiting unprofessionalism, hypocrisy and blind loyalty. The hammer swiftly fell on Daura because the act turned out an affront to democracy and a national embarrassment. Moreover, some elements in the corridors of power, who were privy to the sinister plan undermined the position of the Acting President Yemi Osinbajo. And for the Acting President to assert himself, decisive action must be taken and it was taken. The Senate President who had survived almost all legal and political landmines laid on his path on account of defying party position on zoning of the Senate Presidency is gathering public support as he is seen as the underdog in the entire melee. If there was any good reason for the Senate President to vacate his position, the constitutional provision for doing so is clear. Section 50 (2) (a, b, c) of 1999 Constitution as amended reads: “The President or Deputy President of the Senate or the Speaker or Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives shall vacate his office – if he ceases to be a member of the Senate or of the House of Representatives, as the case may be, or otherwise than by reason of a dissolution of the Senate or the House of Representatives or; when the House of which he was a member first sits after any dissolution of that House or; if he is removed from office by a resolution of the Senate or of House of Representatives, as the case may be by votes of not less than two-thirds majority of members of that House.”

The position of the Senate President is not the crown of the ruling party as claimed by Adams Oshiomhole. Distinguished Senators elect one amongst them who is first among equals without recourse to political affiliations.

Nigerian politicians are serially nomadic, politically mobile and fluid. Since 1999, defection has become exceptionally a political norm. When political interests of politicians are threatened especially on the eve of general elections, they simply defect. In 2014, when Senator Saraki, ex-Speaker, House of Representatives and current governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal and others decamped from PDP to APC, they were giving a rousing welcome and hailed as champions of democracy. Today, these yesterday’s APC political heroes are unfortunately taunted and branded traitors for returning home. One can now see the ‘iberiberism’ in the entire politicking in Nigeria.

The exact nonchalant attitude exhibited by a few gods in PDP which led to the exit of some politicians to APC is exactly the same confronting the ruling party at the moment. Political parties especially the ruling APC and the leading opposition PDP should brace up for more defections as the end is not in sight even with the exit Saraki and others. What goes round they say must come round. APC is unfortunately reaping the sour political fruits it previously sowed. Political pundits had predicted the current crisis in APC at the inception. Nigerians were quite aware that the party was a gathering of strange political bedfellows determined to oust a common enemy in former President Goodluck Jonathan.

Three years after achieving the feat, the glaring incompatibility is beginning to tear the alliance apart. It is obvious that the parties can no longer endure this marriage of convenience. With this development, it takes diligent political brinkmanship and the grace of God for APC to remain the same before the general elections. Welcome to the season of defection!

READ ALSO: Trump, Kim make conciliatory declarations after days of brinkmanship

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Eze writes via sunnyeze02@yahoo.com

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