By ABBA MAHMOOD –
Our issue with this Nigerian Senate’s leadership is the fact that it came to office using fraudulent Senate Rules, and only 47 out of 109 senators were in attendance on June 9, 2015, when the so-called election of Senate leaders took place. The ruling APC, which has a majority, did not produce the deputy Senate president too. To make matters worse, Bukola Saraki who heads the Senate has a lot of moral, ethical and legal cases that are yet to be answered. Yet he is behaving as if he is a co-president or even a super president of Nigeria. Meanwhile, time and opportunity are being wasted.
The consequences are there for all to see: a respected institution like the Senate has been reduced to fighting the personal battles of its illegitimate leadership. It has been effectively used to checkmate many good things for Nigeria. The presidency is divided; government agencies are divided; the executive arm is consequently paralysed, all due to this very Senate’s leadership. Like cancer, Bukola’s Senate is inflicting injuries to all organs of the nation.
When the late President Yar’Adua sent ambassadorial nominees to the Senate for screening, Senator Jubril Aminu, the then chairman of the Senate foreign affairs committee, had cause to say that they were in possession of damning report on one of the nominees. Then Senate president David Mark asked if the nominee was comfortable for Senator Aminu to release the report and the nominee said he had no objection. Suddenly, then Senate leader Ndoma-Egba stood up to say that every agency was under the executive arm of government headed by the president and that a presidential nomination letter supersedes any other agency report from the executive. That was how the nominee was cleared without any more questions.
Below I share with you an article entitled “A Scandal-ridden Senate Presidency” by Abu Najakku:
Most Nigerians believe that most senators are after what they can get for themselves from our national resources and not the provision of qualitative representation that they had promised their constituencies. That is why it’s gone past March and there has been no word on the national budget or when it will be passed. For millions of Nigerians expecting their fortunes to improve with the passage and implementation of this year’s budget, the waiting continues while the senators minister to their own comfort and bicker with presidential appointees over mundane matters. Sample: in these termagant times, Bukola Saraki’s Senate has expended N36m on a vehicle for each of the members; no wonder he continues to hide the chamber’s budget figures.
After arranging the rejection of Magu for the second time, Saraki expressed his wish: “We hope that the executive will quickly act and bring in another name as soon as possible so that the activities of the agency will not be crippled.” It is absolutely unreasonable for the Senate to give the president, as it did, two weeks’ deadline to replace Ibrahim Mustapha Magu as chairman of EFCC. It is a usurpation of duty and sheer legislative arrogance for the Senate to give the president ultimatum regarding when to withdraw unconfirmed appointments. We know that Bukola Saraki’s hands are full and he is maddened by his trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) but millions of Nigerians want to see it go on and even pray that he is convicted.
The suspension of Senator Ali Ndume is a manifestation of this frustration but Ndume is too independent-minded for Saraki to manipulate or intimidate. Ndume is clearly a very brilliant, experienced, resilient and resourceful senator and was the subject of political chicanery in the days of President Goodluck Jonathan when the Air Force dropped bombs near him in order to silence him but he carried on. So, he is a veteran of this skulduggery being staged by Saraki, Jonah Melaye and the other conspirators in the Senate. Suffice it to say that his suspension is the height of intolerance, wickedness and cowardice; Saraki should know that a Senate president is not a king; he is a mere first among equals. Ali Ndume will return to the Senate as soon as possible to continue to represent his constituency and will not keep quiet regardless of Saraki’s extreme anxiety. Ndume should remain guided by his conscience and the best interests of his constituency, irrespective of Saraki’s manifest malice.
Saraki is so nervous of criticism, his insecurity and vulnerabilities are so clear to everyone that the only thing he wants to hear inside the Senate are the fawning voices of Jonah Melaye and Hamma Misau. Those Senators in cahoots with Saraki’s agenda have maintained a conspiratorial silence; they relish Saraki’s confrontation with the president but will not openly voice their support, and so their silence is consent. Saraki’s undisguised ambition to be president of Nigeria is pushing him to use the Senate to stymie Buhari’s presidency, something he never brooked when he was governor of Kwara. Is this the way to become president of Nigeria?
The Senate president complains about lack of communication with the executive, whereas the president had recently given him private audience about half a dozen times. Everyone knows that the Senate president is desperate to stop his CCT trial, something President Buhari is yet to acquiesce to – and there is NO reason he should. Consider the thoughtless and ill-judged decision to “suspend for two weeks” the confirmation hearing of the 28 resident electoral commissioners (RECs) nominated by the president. Only one Senator, Muhammed Adamu Aliero, spoke against the suspension of confirmation hearing for such presidential appointees crucial to the conduct of the 2019 election. Whether the Senate confirms them or not is immaterial, for in the fullness of time if the president needs their services, he will deploy the RECs to the locations of his choice to work for the country. The senators are free to continue to draw their multi-million naira allowances for doing nothing! Saraki wants to use every opportunity to meet with President Buhari and put pressure on him to stop his trial and also drop Magu.
This president should understand one thing: Magu’s courage to arrest hitherto untouchable Nigerians, including thieving generals in the Army, Navy and Air Force and their civilian collaborators, as well as his ability to seize their stolen cash and ill-gotten property, is what endears him to the masses; it is what recommends Magu for the job and it is the reason the masses want to see Buhari retain him for the EFCC job even if heaven meets the earth.
In practical terms, Ibrahim Mustapha Magu, the EFCC chairman, is more productive than Abubakar Bukola Saraki, the Senate president who traffics from one scandal to another. If Buhari truly determines who Magu fights, now is the time to unleash him against all those questionable characters in the Senate in the interest of our maltreated citizens. Magu is going nowhere and he will continue to hunt the corrupt. Even if Buhari wrestles with corruption alone and kills it before it kills Nigeria, we shall be fine. However, if the president capitulates to Saraki and his gang and removes Magu on their promptings, it is goodbye to this promising fight against corruption.
There has been no Senate president suffused in serial scandals as Bukola Saraki who denies ownership of N300 million allegedly stolen from him (by his own admission N12 million was stolen from his house in Ilorin) in the middle of last year; alleged forgery of Senate rules; N3.5 billion bribe from Paris Club Fund refund; FCTA rent of the house at Plot 973 Mban Close, Maitama, for him; undervaluing of the cost of his Range Rover car to avoid paying correct customs duties, etc. God, what a scandalous Senate presidency?