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Is the 8th Senate worst ever?

“Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need…

“Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.”…. Jane Howard <http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/64413.Jane_Howard>

In politics, there’s an old adage that says most people like their representative, but hate legislative arm as an institution. If that is true, then Nigerian public must really hate the 8th Senate as we continue to witness the crisis that bewildered the leadership of Red chamber of the National Assembly (NASS). I am troubled by the unrelenting predicament rocking the upper chamber since its inauguration on 6th June 2015. It’s no longer news that the Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki who has been facing trial over false declaration of asset at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) is facing another trial in a Court over forgery of Senate Rule with his Deputy, Senator Ike Ekweremadu. The trial of the both Senate President and his deputy has direct or indirect impact on the nation with their inability to focus on basic legislation is beyond baffling. This is because despite their ordeals, both continue to enjoy the support and confidence of the majority of their colleagues. In the past one year the Senate have castrated the political minority, abdicated their oversight responsibilities mandated by the constitution, enacted a conscious policy of massive favour and unrestrained spending, allowances, purchase of Sport Utility Vehicles (SUV’s) and installed a host of semi permanent mechanisms for transferring legislative power to selfish interests. They aimed far lower than any other Senate has ever aimed, and they are gradually nailing their target.
The 8th Senate is caught up with controversies that it makes one wonder if democracy is a failed experiment. The upper chamber is gradually becoming an exercise of raw power with no principles and different allegation of subverting the executive arm has continue to flourished based on their body language. Both the APC majority and PDP minority has decided from their action that the future would be inextricably tied to their selfish interest not that of their party, constitution nor the people of the country that gave them their mandate. It has become this sad session of Senators championing a cause that affect their welfare and interest not that of the nation. This is but one example out of numerous of their inability to perform the basic duties, which includes helping to educate the next generation of leaders and productive citizens. It goes far beyond partisanship; it is a matter of lack of will, intelligence and ability. There are four groups to blame for the gross dereliction of duty we have seen from the 8th Senate.
The first, paradoxically, is the APC led government which failed to manage its victory immediately by making an open pronouncement on the zoning of the leadership of the NASS leadership than insisting on merit and conducting a mock election for the post of the Senate President and the Speaker of House of Representatives. It’s very astonishing that the party was shy of zoning the principal officer of the NASS eight weeks after winning a majority seat in the both chambers up to the day of the inauguration.
The second group is the leaders of the party (APC) who failed to understand the herculean task they faced in defeating PDP by using their old knowledge, strategies, experience and sacrifices to manage the victory of the party by bringing factions together to work for the interest of the nation. They seem to have forgotten the horse trade, negotiations and scarifies made by some stakeholders which lead to the alliance of different political parties of what today is known as APC.
The third group is the Senators of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) who are yet overcome the shock of defeat their party suffered in 2015 general election. The PDP Senator’s has exhibited this in the past on the screening of the ministerial nominees and their recent open declaration for withdrawing their support for the APC administration are among the factors contributing to the faceoff between the Senate leadership and the Executive arm of government.
The fourth group are the elements and actors working for their selfish agenda and looking towards 2019 in case President Muhammad Buhari decided not to throw his hat on the ring. The groups apart from strategizing are busy diminishing their perceive rivals or those they regards as obstacles in realizing their ambition in 2019. What the last category fell to understand and remember is that power belongs to God and its only God that knows who will witness 2019 among us.
But the group most to blame for the sad state of Senate is the both old and new members of 8th Senators who should have pledge their loyalty first to the constitution rather than an individual, interest or a political party. Even if one is a card carrying member of APC, AD, APGA, PDP Labour Party or PRP; their campaign manifesto’s is all geared towards improving the living standard of Nigerians. President Buhari’s widely quoted statement of “I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody” is a clear testimony that he put the Country first ahead of any interest irrespective of political party. For those taking it as a strange thing to have an opposition party as a Deputy Senate President (DSP) must have a short memory and lack the knowledge of the Nigeria’s political history.
A good Presidential Adviser on Political Matters or party strategists (lobbyists) not “financial one’s” emphasis mine would have succeeded in six month by courting Senator Ike Ekweremadu (Deputy Senate President) and other PDP Senators back to the ruling party which will have given a strong majority to the APC at the Upper chamber. Even in our homes we do agree and disagree sometimes and that doesn’t mean we are sworn enemies. For example, in 2011, President Buhari as the CPC presidential aspirant was not in the same political party and ideology with Senator Bukola Saraki of PDP, Governor Oshimole of Labour Party, Governor Wamakwo of PDP, Senator Tinubu of ACN, Chief Rochas Okorocha of APGA, Chief Akande of ACN, Hon. Amaechi of PDP, many Senator, House of Reps and some political appointees today that are in APC were lately of 2013 not on the same political terrain with President Buhari, but in 2014, “destiny and interest” brought them together. Is that not an enough lesson of life that no condition is permanent for the actors to forgive, unite and forge ahead to work for the betterment of the country?
Confidence of Nigerians on 8th Senate has continued dropped very significantly since its inception especially the circumstances that lead to the emergence of the Senate President and what many political pundit regarded as a political face off which the executive arm of government has continue to denied, but if the executive arm of government has always distance itself from the leadership crisis at the Upper chamber, why has the party leadership remind silence?. But the recent interview which quoted the APC National Chairman, Chief Odigie Oyegun admitting that one of his worst decision as the Party helmsmen was heeding to the pressure from some quarters to call for a meeting of APC Senators on the day of inauguration which some attended instead of been at Senate chamber to elect their leaders will have exonerated Bukola Saraki whom many perceived broke a deal with PDP to emerged as the Senate President, an allegation he has denied several times that there is no Senator in the 8th Senate either of APC or PDP who he has not met one on one and indicated his aspiration to vied for the office of the Senate President. Sure, most of the Senators didn’t worth to be at the chamber and majority are unqualified to hold a real job. But that’s our fault for not insisting on better. Unfortunately, until Nigerians start voting in larger numbers, not on sentiment, religion or financial inducement, then the influence of small numbers of political extremists and big-Naira donors will have an outsize impact to be elected and who gets elected. I don’t expect Nigerians to recognize they are frittering away the precious gift of suffrage until things get much, much worse. We deserve better than what we are getting from this one.
Nigerians have made the 8th Senate the butt of jokes since its inception, as we are witnessing a genuine deterioration of both the executive and legislative arm of government to mend fence for the betterment of Nigerians. As the APC government celebrate more than year in power with the majority number of elected officers both in the legislative and executive arm of government, there is every need to manage their victory with decorum in other ends and the dust settles over the continuous hullaballoo. There is no reason APC with the majority and we’re left with a Senate that’s unproductive on a historic level, which lacks party’s support of leadership and necessitate the public to think ill of the Red chamber has contributed to the failure to face or complete its routine tasks.
Members of the 8th Senate irrespective of their party affiliation or interest should remember to take Nigeria first against their personal interest, region, individual or tribe. The upper chamber should rise above selfish interest and join hand in supporting the change agenda of the current administration. The failure of the 8th Senate to change its strategies will end up making it the worst Senate ever.
Mr. Yahaya wrote this piece from Jagbele Quarters, Muye, Niger State [email protected] <mailto:[email protected]> +2348036616767