Is the 8th Se­nate worst ever?

Daily Trust - - OPINION - By Ibrahim Muye Ya­haya

“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://­thor/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 dan­muye@ya­<mailto:dan­muye@ya­> +2348036616767

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