Fellow Nigerians, permit me to join the ongoing National conversation and question on the yet to be inaugurated Leadership of the 8th National Assembly by quickly making a concession that the business of nominating or electing, or both, the leaders of parliament of any Nation is a serious business that would naturally ignite passionate concerns and genuine supports from the citizenry and expose contenders for such offices to both constructive and destructive criticism.
However, I have noticed a trend of seemingly coordinated and perpetual bid of a cross-section of politicians and hackwriters to attack and embarrass a top contender for the office of the Senate President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It should surprise Nigerians that out of all contenders, only Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki, the senator representing Kwara Central Senatorial district, has been singled out for malicious attacks and subjected to hate campaign.
These politicians and hack writers whether they are sponsored or unsponsored, ill-informed or pretentious, naive or treacherous, are dubious and evidently doing more harm than good to the supposed beneficiary of the hate campaign.
To say in mild words, the trend is dangerous and divisive for the polity and the All Progressives Congress (APC).
These hackwriters and their sponsors had initially hinged their anti-Bukola Saraki campaign on the assumption or rumour that the Senator is likely to contest the 2019 presidential election.
Having discovered that the rumour died a naturally death even without a reaction or rebuttal from Senator Bukola Saraki, his adversaries have switched to a coordinated attempt to portray him as corrupt and unfit to be Senate President based on unsubstantiated rumour and allegation of corruption. Not based on a charge by anti-graft agencies or a conviction by a court of law. This sentiment is a typical example of a slide from ludicrous to ridiculous.
It is yet unclear to Nigerians why a contender out of many is singled out for vociferous attacks and politically-motivated insults by agents of some Party Chieftains within the same APC fold. These adversaries just can not fault Saraki’s performance, competence, acceptability and other enviable attributes that qualifies him to preside over the Senate of the 8th National Assembly, so Saraki’s adversaries must have ignorantly adopted hate campaigns in an attempt to portray him as corrupt, to get him off the Senate presidency race but they must be poor students of history
They have even abandoned and failed to promote the merit (if any) of their preferred candidates, it is all about why they think Senator Saraki shouldn’t be nominated and elected the Senate President.
This readily brings to mind the scenarios that led to the overwhelming victory of APC and its Presidential Candidate, Gen Muhammadu Buhari and the humiliating defeat of Outgoing President Goodluck Jonathan, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential Candidate in the March 28presidential election.
It bears repeating that the presidential campaign of the recently-defeated President Jonathan centred more on the the perceived undemocratic credentials and assumed weaknesses of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari than the merit of the candidacy of President Jonathan and the achievements of the President Goodluck Jonathan-led administration.
Anyway, it is not news that the dangerous and divisive presidential campaign coordinated by the PDP has led the PDP and its candidate to the gutter of defeat and the PDP is yet to recover from what is now widely referred to as post-election trauma.
I strongly believe the APC can do better than that and the APC is advised to desist from following the same path that has brought the PDP to its prostrate state.
When Senator Saraki said a comprehensive and thorough policy of accountability, coupled with proper civil service training and monitoring, is the antidote against the nation’s corruption. His adversaries went to town with town criers to say he has disagreed with the President-Elect, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari on the issue of asset declaration.
Meanwhile, Senator Saraki only noted that asset declaration is an accepted protocol of statutory disclosure but said that asset declaration alone could not reduce corruption without a comprehensive policy of accountability adhered to by public officers.
On the issue of corruption, it is of public knowledge and even the political adversaries of Senator Saraki can not deny the truth that the Police and the Office of the Solicitor-General of the Federation has since 2012 absolved Senator Saraki of any corruption allegation.
I find this quote from Mr Akinlolu Abayomi, a journalist, perfectly relevant here, “Investigations revealed that Senator Bukola Saraki has never been arraigned before a judge for any criminal offence anywhere in the country till date. What the police did was a process of building up a case against him which is not unusual.
“He was the one that later approached the court on his own to stop the police from harassing him and all the matters he has attended in court has always been civil which had to do with elections and that is the truth.
“Having being invited several times by the police without prosecution might obviously imply that there is no substantial evidence for his prosecution. He initiated the case in court to enforce his fundamental right and stop harassment from the police and when the court says he should report there, he promptly did and since then nothing happened.
“An arraignment in court is not even strong as an alibi to bar a man from contesting for an elective position not to talk of seeking for a position after election”.
Sections 47-50 of the 1999 constitution states that, “There shall be a National Assembly for the Federation which shall consist of a Senate and a House of Representatives.”
Section 50(1) of the constitution also states, “There shall be:(a) a President and a Deputy President of the Senate, who shall be elected by the members of that House from among themselves; and (b) a Speaker and a Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, who shall be elected by the members of that House from among themselves.”
Apparently, it is clear from the above quoted provisions of the constitution that the business of electing the Senate President and the Speaker of both Houses of the National Assembly depends solely on the lawmakers. Party leaders and Nigerians should respect such rights. Enough of distrations and hate campaigns.
Needless to remind APC members and Nigerians that June 4th – the reported scheduled date for the inauguration of the 8th National Assembly will come and go. The cohesion of the party after the said date largely depends on how the leadership of the party manages the power tussle amongst contenders for the office of the Senate President and for office of the Speaker of House of Representatives. Nigerians are watching.