National Assembly “Crises”: Searching Seriously, By Olalekan Waheed Adigun
…it appears to me that APC strategists largely went on vacation after President Muhammadu Buhari was declared winner on March 31. They largely assumed that with its 60 members in the Senate, all was well. It also appears they assumed the PDP was “dead” beyond resurrection as a result of its loss of power at the centre. President Buhari’s indifference on who leads the National Assembly only complicated matters.
I have never been interested in who occupies the positions of Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives until the day of the inaugural sitting. My disinterestedness steams from the fact that the contestants are those who do not, in my estimation, have the ingredients for exciting leadership for that important arm of government; at least as their profiles show!
I became only interested when the drama started. I see nothing wrong in the June 9 elections. I also do not share in the All Progressives Congress’ (APC) official position on the outcome. Quoting the party’s spokesman, Lai Muhammed, he argued: “The party duly met and conducted a straw poll and clear candidates emerged for the posts of Senate President, Deputy Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives, supported by a majority of all Senators-elect and members-elect of the House of Representatives.” The APC’s thinking was in terms of establishing party supremacy, but I am afraid, that is not a concept we are used to in Nigeria. The meeting the party had to select its “candidates” for the positions were not in any way biding on all members of the National Assembly. A mistake like this is too important to be ignored!
Quoting him further, he said: “All National Assembly members-elect who emerged on the platform of the party are bound by that decision. The party is supreme and its interest is superior to that of its individual members.” It is at this point that I understood APC’s frustration.
A strategy is good when it works wonders, but it can hurt when one loses a game perfected through one’s own manoeuvres. This appears to be the situation of the party today. Four years ago, I watched members of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in the National Assembly display victory signs at the announcement of Aminu Tambuwal as the new Speaker. Suffice to say, Tambuwal subsequently joined the newly registered APC to which ACN is a partner.
Again, let us look for the constitutional requirements on the matter. To form a quorum in any of the Chambers of the National Assembly requires in attendance one-third of its members. Those who voted in both Chambers had more than half of their members in attendance. That is why I saw nothing wrong in any decision that might have been taken!
Those senators-elect and members-elect who decided to attend a meeting at the International Conference Centre (ICC), about the same time that the inauguration of the National Assembly was going on could be classified as having “boycotted” the inauguration. I am not in a position to know if the APC legislators simply decided to boycott the event or were simply engaged in a time-buying tactic. Whatever the case, nothing positive ever comes out of such boycott. It is only an early acceptance of defeat.
In my article, “APC: The Question of Strategies”, I argued that the party’s strategies are, in fact, dangerous. The party won the presidential election, not as a result of a fantastic strategy, but due to the abysmally poor tactical approach of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The APC must be thankful to people like Femi Fani-Kayode and Adamu Muazu for the poor handling of the PDP campaign.
I am sorry to say this, but it appears to me that APC strategists largely went on vacation after President Muhammadu Buhari was declared winner on March 31. They largely assumed that with its 60 members in the Senate, all was well. It also appears they assumed the PDP was “dead” beyond resurrection as a result of its loss of power at the centre. President Buhari’s indifference on who leads the National Assembly only complicated matters. In general, APC’s post-election strategies are at best below average. Can this be a case of mental fatigue?
In general, my unsolicited advice to the APC is that they should now live in the reality of having both houses of the National Assembly out of their control (except things change), at least for the next four years!