Ministerial Screening: Misunderstanding Saraki’s Party Loyalty

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Since the inauguration of the 8the senate in June this year, the upper legislative chamber has been riddled with crisis. Nigerians charged the senate to wake up and justify its independence as an arm of government to better the lot of Nigerians instead of struggling in catalogue of crisis.

It is no longer a wish, mirage or hallucination that the political situation in Nigeria has ‘changed’ and changed, it has. As former American president, Abraham Lincoln observed many years ago, all institution of power and authority belong to the people, they could use it against a government, individual in authority or a political party, what Nigerians have done was to entrust the authority of citadel of law making in the land in the hands of selected few in the senate for their good and not against them.   

There is wisdom in the election of principal officers that have been steering the affairs of the red chambers so far. The fear that engulfed the land when the initial crisis engrosses the senate but was doused indicates that our lawmakers are honourable men and women that are purposeful to transform the land. The prophecy by the Americans that Nigeria may be a fail state in 2015, is becoming the prediction on Julius Caesar and Caesar told the soothsayer that the “idle of March are come,” and the soothsayer replied, “but not gone.” That is to say that 2015 is still here but not gone. The question is, if Nigeria succeeded where she was prophesied to fail, it goes to say that the success that the citizens expect their lawmakers to tow its line has been recorded and they should not drift.

The PDP ruled the nation for nearly two decades and it is aware that steering the ship ashore in an issue like ministerial screening especially where, the like the Idoma people of Benue State would say, “a snake inside a clay pot should be handled with care if it must be killed otherwise the owner of the pot could lose it also,” should be the case of this ministerial screening and confirmation.

What the senate president has done in the way he has handled the confirmation of former governor of Rives State, Rotimi Amaechi as minister of the federal republic is credible for his political career.

What the senate president has done was not intended to slight the PDP or it senators, but for national interest.

It was reported that confirmation was expected to commence immediately but Senate President Bukola Saraki announced adjournment of the senate till the following day which it was suspected to be machination. On that, the PDP senators sulked and planned offensive. They were further aggrieved by recent development in Rivers where the election of the PDP candidate, Governor Nyesome Wike is being reversed and the governor’s effort to negate the sitting of Rivers Election’s Tribunal in Abuja was being frustrated by the Supreme Court as the PDP senators also see the hands of Ameachi using federal might on it.

The PDP senators may be seeing that their support for the senate president was being undermined and vowed that unless Senator Samuel Anyanwu led senate committee on Ethics and Privileges was considered, they resolve to withdraw their support for Saraki should he force Ameachi’s confirmation. Much as that idea looks plausible to cheer, national interest should take prominence over self will.

It was further reported that Biodun Olujimi, a PDP lawmaker from Ekiti State, earlier raised a point of order, asking the senate to suspend the confirmation of ministerial nominees until it considers the report of the committee on ethics on Ameachi. The reason was that senators from Rivers State had brought a petition from the state accusing the former governor Ameachi of stealing N70 billion of state fund while he was governor. But Senate President Bukola Saraki ruled her out of order and the PDP senators too were indifferent with that and therefore suspected betrayal. However, the real offence of Amaechi according to investigation was his vulgarity to the PDP in the build up to last general election. The PDP senators are now insisting that to square to former governor, the report of senate committee on Ethics and Privileges on the petitions filed against him be brought forward for consideration, or he should not be confirmed.

The senate president may have taken his action on the fact that he rode to his present plum position on the platform of the APC despite the enormous support of the PDP senators. The two term governor of Kwara State has political blood of astuteness running in him being a scion of the Saraki dynasty. His father was known for obstinacy on any issue of national interest, this probably may be why the senate president is towing the line on impulse. He is a nationalist no doubt, but he should as well struggle for a space in between the tin line of national interest and party loyalty, this is what he is trying to balance.

Despite all, as former US President Abraham Lincoln observed many years ago,“This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or exercise their revolutionary right to overthrow it.” Again, this is what Saraki wants the APC to avoid.

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