By Yinka Salaam
It is only the politically naive that will be surprised by the event that rocked the ruling party, leading to the emergence of Bukola Saraki as the Senate President and bringing the already almost comatose Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) into political relevance.
The crisis in the All Progressives Party was long in the waiting, having survived it at the keenly contested Presidential primaries and the emotion laden exercise that produced it’s Vice Presidential candidate, Professor Yemi Osinbajo; but what is not expected and evidently surprising is the dramatic dimension it took when it ultimately occurred.
It will be an understatement to state that the hurriedly and craftily planned legislative coup that led to the emergence of the immediate past Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu from the main opposition party which gave three out of the initial four positions (including majority and minority leaders) to the former Peoples Democratic Party (old-PDP) members or members of the new-PDP if you like; sent jitters to the spines of an average Nigerians, particularly those who voted for Change and have hinged their hope of smooth sailing of President Muhammadu Buhari’s Change Agenda on a very cooperating Legislature.
Otherwise, how on earth would the first session of the Senate that was supposed to have the full representation of all the Senators-elect with family members and their well wishers be composed of just half of the expected members with about eighty percent of members of the ruling party in absence.
Saraki was elected, nay selected by 58 of the 109 senators on June 9 with most of his party members absent but with the support of the minority PDP, the party he left because of its highhandedness..
As event was unfolding live via broadcast media, it reminded many Nigerians of Orubebe phenomenon as they began to express concern on the real intentions of the Saraki and his group- refusing to accept it as mere intra party politicking.
Some queried: if the new-PDP, the old-PDP and the current-PDP are effectively in control of the National Assembly, would they not constitute a blockade to anti-corruption crusade of Buhari? And to some, it will be a cog in the wheel of progress of sanitizing the polity. Nigerians simply pray that the gang up of “old friends” will not spell a doom for the anti corruption crusade of PMB.
Perhaps the most worrisome aspect of the intrigue which the ruling party referred to as ‘treachery’ was the concessioning of sensitive positions like Deputy Senate President.
Critics believe Saraki went too far and that not even in the most advanced democracies of United States of America, United Kingdom or Australia has such experience been recorded.
Many could not believe that a politician of integrity which APC stands for will because of personal interest jettisons party’s wish and connive with the same party that Nigeria brazenly rejected at the polls for their impunity, corruption and mis-governance.
Contrary to Yoruba culture, Saraki’s betrayal was further strengthened by his utter disrespect for the party leaders like the Tinubus, the Oyeguns, the Baba Akandes, the Kwankasos, the Okorochas, the Ndas among others; in addition to his humiliation of the Vice President Yemi Osibajo as well as the shunning and dishonouring of President Muhammadu Buhari’s call for reconciliation at the International Conference Center, (ICC) Abuja.
In fact, this made the elder statesmen of the National Peace Committee 2015 including General Abdulsalami Abubakar and Bishop Hassan Mathew Kukah (the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese), Africa’s richest Man Aliko Dangote, Former Chief of General Staff, Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe and former Nigeria Bar Association President Mrs Priscilla Kuye to come to the rational conclusion that the process that led to the election of the key principal officers of the Senate was faulty and “unacceptable”.
The Committee which played a pivotal role in ensuring peaceful elections and facilitated a peace pact between former President Goodluck Jonathan and his then challenger President Muhammadu Buhari to douse the tension ahead of the crucial general elections also spearheaded the post-election peace management.
The committee said it was important for the highest legislative body to uphold ‘moral authority and values’. Given the maturity, track record and experience of the body, the Committee wonders why a routine process turned into an ugly, selfish dogfight.
“This is unacceptable to Nigerians. It neither dignified the Senate nor does it honour what Nigerians voted for…. It is not the way to thank God for what He has done to those who were lucky to be elected to that high offices, nor does it honour what He has done to our country,” they concluded.
The event was a quick reminder of the dreaded Ajagungbale phenomenon that is rapidly gaining popularity in Lagos and in some parts of Ogun State.
Ajagungbale literally means: He who fights a war to secure the land. Ajagungbale is a dreaded war lord, deeply connected in government arena, (including the police, SSS and military), judiciary and social circles. He is much feared because he controls the Area Boys, as well as the Area Fathers and of course, highly fortified with very potent charms. Hence, nobody crosses his path or challenges his decision whenever he lays his hands on any land!
However, as dreadful as Ajagungbale is, he does not and will never trespass on any piece of land until he is invited by a member of the family (close or distant) who owns the land. Once invited, (out of disagreement or disputations among the members of the family who either feel aggrieved or cheated by another arm/branch of the immediate or extended family in the distribution of the land), Ajagungbale moves in to take ownership of the property and sends out from the land, the initial landlord(s), who for safety hurriedly vacate(s) the land. If the Ajagungbale is the generous type, he then apportions half of the land to the aggrieved and takes over the rest.
Ajagungbale does not collect money for wages; he negotiates his reward with the land. He will also be the one to sell or help dispose any part of the land allocated to the new landlord should he intend to sell his portion. He of course, provides security for the land.
Since land appreciates with time, Ajagungbale is never in a hurry to leave the land until the last piece is sold; and should the old-Landlord decides to make troubles, Ajagungbale is ever battle ready to engage in a long-drawn judicial duel.
Dear Senator Bukola Saraki, this is the fear of an average Nigeria and those lovers of Change who voted your party.
For the avoidance of doubt, I am one of your fans who believe in your intellectual prowess and feels you are vibrant and brilliant enough to lead the National Assembly, but my fear and that of many citizens is that you might have inadvertently invited Ajagungbale into the family you labored to nurture and grow into maturity and success.
Nigerians won’t forget so quickly how you constructively engaged the former regime and brought many corruption cases to the fore. They will also not forget too soon your immense contribution to the formation of APC and the eventual successful election that led to the collapse of the wickedly corrupt and directionless PDP.
No doubt, you are of the PDP extraction (old PDP), yes, you are of the new-PDP, yes, you have every constitutional right to be the Senate President, but do you know that your action rather portrays your party leaders as unwise, uncoordinated, lack of foresight and politically naïve.
By ingloriously securing, through scheming and parleying with the ‘devils’, what you probably would have honorably achieved with negotiation at the ICC, Abuja, you already portrayed yourself as a spoiler, representing those who did not wish Nigeria and the President well. Some even interpreted your action as an attempt to tame Senator Bola Tinubu and cut him to size, the objective you perhaps never set out to achieve.
Your exploit also led others to fault the non interference stance of PMB. They opined that if he had interfered, you would have been adopted based on your desperation and a loyal member of the APC would have emerged as your Deputy instead of Ekweremadu.
Senator Saraki, you must realize that the defunct CPC and ACN used to settle amicably, in distributing the spoils of war after political battles are won, but PDP politicks, schemes and engages in treachery. The ‘amicable settlement approach’ has sustained the progressives till now, so those of the PDP extraction must learn the new art/way wrought by the ‘common sense revolution’.
Many wise Nigeria have nevertheless realized that the Tinubus and the Oyeguns position are more justified because when the chips are down, they will have nowhere to go should APC breaks or be defeated in the next election (God forbid); but you and colleagues with other political prostitutes could find your way back to other opposition parties where you would be warmly received with red carpet.
Therefore, be aware that Tinubu and Buhari remain the two main pillars of APC and you and your other colleagues must recognize yourselves as the necessary accessories that complement the foundation laid by the duo. Hence, they deserve all the respect and honour.
The only thing that can sustain the relationship is mutual trust and sincerity of purpose. My dear Senate President, it is pertinent for you to note that this singular deed of yours has made many to doubt your sincerity and true membership of the party.
With the ensuing events that trailed your major ‘election’- your recalcitrance to read the APC letter at the plenary as well as your outright obstinacy and refusal to acknowledge the party’s supremacy, under whose banner and goodwill you contested and won election to the Senate- some have actually come to believe that you are either a fifth columnist or a malleable tool in the hands of the detractors of APC and by extension, enemies of Nigeria and the much desired Change.
My prayer is that, contrary to expectation of many, the fusion of the APC and the PDP members into the formation of the principal officers at the Senate will in the long run translate to ‘Government of National Unity’ for Nigeria and facilitate quick realization of your party’s Change Agenda and Buhari’s anti-corruption crusade.
As a full-blooded Yoruba son, I urge you to remember the popular saying that: “If a home is at peace and does not witness crisis, it is only because the bastard in the household has not attained maturity”. Just as it’s held in Yoruba land that only a bastard will connive with and invite an Ajagungbale to his father’s land whenever he is aggrieved with his siblings.
Like a prodigal son, your father’s big house is fervently awaiting your glorious repentance and you can be sure of the elders’ magnanimity as well as the warm embrace of your brethren.
Go and sin no more.
Voice of Nigeria, Lagos