The Bukola Saraki Challenge: Antecedence And Options Before The APC

Editor’s note: The political intrigues surrounding Bukola Saraki’s emergence as Senate President continue to shake the foundations of rivalling giants the APC and the PDPThe Naij.com columnist Japheth Omojuwa outlines the most sensible scenarios that could unravel in the nearest time, and thinks which of them are the ‘lesser evil’.

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Naij.com.

Story highlights:

— “What happened on Tuesday, 9th June, 2015, mirrors what happened on the 6th of June, 2011, when, against his party’s wishes, Aminu Tambuwal not only contested the speakership of the House of Representatives, but beat the PDP (party leaders outside the House)-backed Honourable Mulikat Akande Adeola”

— “The long term is what Senator Bukola Saraki should be mindful of: Bola Tinubu will be back”

— “Those who fear a Saraki-led Senate would be a total impediment to Buhari’s government should have a rethink”

Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki is the Senate President of Nigeria’s 8th Senate. This simple fact is the biggest political controversy in Nigeria today. The sideshow to that is the election of  Hon Yakubu Dogara as the Speaker of the House of Representatives. The crux of the matter: both men defied some powerful interests in their political party to contest the elections and then to win against the party’s own official stand. Now, the battle line is drawn within the APC as separate power blocs continue to battle for the control of a party that really remains a storming heterogeneous political behemoth yet to form into a unified political entity.

Former President Goodluck Jonathan unified the forming entities of the APC in its formation and eventual alliance with the new PDP bloc in late 2013. Now, the APC must find another unifying objective to congregate towards or against, or risk joining the PDP as yet another powerhouse unable to manage its ‘mega’ status.

What happened on Tuesday, 9th June, 2015, mirrors what happened on the 6th of June, 2011, when, against his party’s wishes, Aminu Tambuwal not only contested the speakership of the House of Representatives, but beat the PDP (party leaders outside the House)-backed Honourable Mulikat Akande Adeola. He won in a landslide and kept the House on his side through out his tenure. Tambuwal defied his party, but to do that, he needed to have the support of his colleagues in the two main parties, the then-Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN, now a major constituent of today’s APC), and the PDP. Tambuwal essentially rode on the ACN’s support to emerge Speaker.

The ensuing battle after his election as Speaker eventually had him run the House almost completely in opposition to his party and the Jonathan government. He ultimately left the PDP to contest and win the Sokoto gubernatorial race, but he had been deemed an ‘opposition’ Speaker long before then. In the ‘Tambuwaling’ of the National Assembly elections, the PDP had no precedent to learn from. Now that the APC has itself been ‘Tambuwaled,’ it must learn from where the PDP failed!

What can the APC do about the Saraki-Dogara challenge? Like virtually everything with Nigeria’s political realities, there are really no straightforward answers. Pragmatism, as is often the case, becomes a necessary measure of engagement.

The party can suspend the Senate President and the Speaker from party activities, but the party cannot remove them from office. Suspending them could further alienate the camps loyal to both Saraki and Dogara which could then set the Buhari government battling against an unfriendly National Assembly. Note that for all the opposition politics deployed by Tambuwal’s House of Representatives towards the Jonathan administration, David Mark’s Senate stayed cordial and indeed in solid partnership with it. Now imagine a situation where both Houses are set against the government. This will come with costs but the point will be made later.

The APC has already released a strongly-worded statement on the issue. It is good to show bravado, but such bravado and hubris already sent the party to a crushing setback in the National Assembly. As tough as this may sound, the deed has been done and the APC cannot do much about the realities of the National Assembly in the near short term.

The long term is what Senator Bukola Saraki should be mindful of. Bola Tinubu will be back! He may not be a good tactician in regard of being a able to settle into the background when deploying his ideas, but our country has hardly ever known a better political strategist. Bola Tinubu is the king of the long game, and this is where Senate President Saraki has to be mindful. Saraki would be better served if he mended fences with Tinubu, otherwise, he’d put himself in a situation where he has to constantly watch his back because Tinubu will come for him.

The die is cast, and the next coming days make for interesting politics. Some in Tinubu’s camp will feel undone by the president’s seemingly nonchalance on the issue when his office stated he would be abiding by the party’s position on Lawan’s candidacy would have shifted the position of a lot of Northern lawmakers, if not all the APC lawmakers. Since that did not happen before Saraki’s emergence as Senate President, it is now too late in the day for the president to get involved on such terms.

Those who fear a Saraki-led Senate would be a total impediment to Buhari’s government should have a rethink. Buhari is not your regular politician; he is a religion for millions of people, especially in the North. Any politician, especially of Northern extraction, who is seen working against Buhari will be expending a political capital that could prove to be politically fatal.

That leaves all the parties in one pot; they all have to work together to set things right. The PDP got a flicker of hope in the games that played out in the National Assembly on Tuesday, but it is still nothing but a sideshow in what remains an APC theatre of power.

Japheth Omojuwa On The “Bukola Saraki” Challenge

Japheth Omojuwa

Japheth Omojuwa is a renowned Nigerian social media expert, columnist and Naij.com contributor.

The post The Bukola Saraki Challenge: Antecedence And Options Before The APC appeared first on NEWS.NAIJ.COM – Nigerian & worldwide news..

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