“Some of the senators also asked that the party leadership to ensure that Saraki’s trial at the CCT was stopped as this would be the perfect way to reconcile the two arms of government.” PUNCH, April 5, 2017, p 16.
The leadership of the All Progressives Congress, APC, minus Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, went to the National Assembly on April 4, 2017 to meet with APC senators separately in a bid to end the noticeable stalemate which is paralyzing the work of government and tearing the nation apart. The Daura/Magu tango as it turned out is only the tip of the iceberg with respect to a lot of grievances the Senators have against the Executive branch. Consider this statement.
“We told the leadership of our party that political appointees of President Muhammadu Buhari were using the media against us, especially Magu. We stated to them that Magu was brought to in dead; that what we did was to only conduct his funeral.” Obviously Magu was a victim of his most vocal admirers – the media, activists and Senior Advocates of Nigeria, SANs, like Sagay and Falana. They have brough an end to a prospective great career. “God save me from my “friends”…”.
But, the Senators, like those who murdered Caesar needed an alibi to justify the dagger thrusts. In came Mr Daura to provide the excuse. And, now the Senators have gone beyond frustrating the President’s efforts to get Magu confirmed, they have now issued an ultimatum. In the language of the American Mafia, They have openly made the leadership of the APC an offer which they think the President cannot refuse. “Drop cases against Saraki or else….”. Anybody who for one moment thinks that Saraki is the only Senator who will benefit from that amnesty must have rocks where brains are supposed to be. Once granted it will become an all-encompassing pardon for virtually all the Senators having cases in court. Thereafter, it is goodbye to all the talk about fighting corruption because the war would have been lost. As a wise person once observed about wars, the last battle is the one that counts. We might be reaching the end of the road on this one.
“Good man wrong profession.” Sam Rayburn, 1882-1961, longest serving Speaker of the US House of Representatives, when told that General Dwight Eisenhower, 1890-1969, was going to run for President of the US.
Eisenhower actually ran and won the election, but he achieved very little. He soon discovered that civilian politics is unlike the command-and-obey structure of the armed forces. The man who once commanded the largest military forces ever assembled once said, “You know what astonishes me about the Presidency, you give an order and nothing happens.” He was not sufficiently political. The entire world is witnessing the limits of Presidential power as Donald Trump suffers one setback after another as new President – unlike his experience as head of his own business. Politics is a different ball game.
Nigerians can now see how the failure of the President to be political is doing havoc to governance. The first test of his political acumen, and that of the APC leadership, came early when contrary to the expectations of the Senate Presidency and Speaker of the house went to two individuals not selected by the leadership. It was a political coup! From that day, the National Assembly declared its independence of the Executive branch and the party leadership who only went to the Senate to receive the ultimatum. Even the “threat” issued later by the leaders to discipline anybody wanting to derail the reconciliation effort must have struck the Senators as a gesture very much like trying to grab hold of air. It is futile. Incidentally, nobody seems to have noticed that even Senators from Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Edo, Imo, the original ACN states have not dissociated themselves from the position of their leaders. One particular Senator from Lagos should have spoken out; but would not. That is politics.
What does that mean for the nation and governance? Difficult as it might be for the so-called activists, media and SANs to accept, the Senators have the upper hand and there are only three ways to resolve the break the deadlock. Buhari and the APC leadership can start negotiating seriously bearing in mind that it is better to grant graciously what cannot otherwise be refused. That means Buhari will have to distance himself from the Sagays and Falanas and make a deal to get Magu confirmed. The second is to use force. Those asking Buhari to deal decisively with the Senate forget that he has no powers under the constitution to do that and that once the Senate is gone democracy goes with it. That would amount to burning the house to roast a goat. That is even worse than the first option.
“If you don’t intend having a compromise, you don’t negotiate at all.” Nelson Mandela, VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS, VBQ, p 171.
The third approach, and the favoured one, calls for a mediated or settlement; done quietly and involving elder statesmen no longer in active politics (no Obasanjo please!!!) who can be called in for that purpose to iron out differences. The APC leaders could not fulfill this role because they are subordinate to the President and the other leaders of the party. This approach for settling disputes aims to achieve a win-win situation in which nobody emerges the victor or vanquished and both sides take away something valuable.
When, for instance, Sagay and Falana urge Buhari to retain Magu on the job indefinitely based on presumed constitutional provisions, they forget that with the 2017 Budget still undelivered the National Assembly can allocate any amount to the EFCC. And that too will be constitutional. What then will become of the institution severely weakened because of dispute about its Chief Executive Officer? Is one man worth the palaver?
This destructive Mexican stand-off must be broken and it cannot be with those representing the warring sides seeking to have their way on every issue in dispute. That, to me, is another form of intellectual dictatorship – nothing will move unless I have my way sort of mentality. The so called activists who went to the NASS to protest predictably achieved nothing because there is no way they can force the Senate to shift its position. I have also wondered what most of my colleagues, columnists especially, hope to achieve by raining abuses on the Senators. All politicians are motivated by self-interest and we have seen how some former journalists who went into government quickly join those they once loved to denounce. Moral arrogance on our part needs to be tempered with reason if we want to help Nigeria at this time.
NIGERIA MEDIA AND FAKE NEWS ON A RANGE ROVER – 2
“Truth that’s told with bad intent/ beats all the lies you can invent. William Blake. 1757-1827.
Fourth, and this is the most important reason for my skepticism about the RANGE ROVER story, which I strongly believed was planted to damage the Senate and its President. The disclosure coming at the time the Comptroller General of the Customs was having a tough time with the Senate about his uniform suggested that somebody was raking up mud to toss at the Senators – again in full confidence that most Nigerians are too gullible to understand what is going on. Now more than ever I believe it was a plant deliberately released for the effect it has produced. Why?
Let us return to the facts provided by Mr Akindele. If the Senate paid N62.5m for the vehicle in November 2015, the Customs received the N13m duty about fifteen months ago and allowed it to go. Why was it released then when Col Ali (rtd) had no problems with the Senate which confirmed his appointment? Why the noise now that he is at logger-heads with the Senate? And, who, by the way placed a price tag of N298m on the vehicle? After all, “A truth that’s told with bad intent/ beats all the lies you can invent.” (William Blake 1757-1827). Covering up crime committed in 2015 when convenient to do so, only to disclose them in 2017 when it is advantageous is neither honest nor patriotic. Indeed it paints the individual as unfit to hold office. At any rate, most of what we have been told is outright falsehood meant to deceive fools.