Why party loyalty should count in NASS leadership, by Mohammed Auwal Ismail

Osinbajo in closed door meeting with Ahmad Lawan
Senator Ahmed Lawan

The Presidential and National Assembly elections have come and gone. The ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) is yet again in control of both chambers of the National Assembly with a convincing majority.

In a democratic setup, the relationship between the National Assembly and the Executive is key to the realisation of the ideals of democracy and it determines the success or otherwise of an administration. A harmonious relationship, not necessarily a rubber stamp legislature ensure smooth passage of bills necessary for the running of government by the Executive arm of government.

The 8th Assembly was largely seen as the clog in the wheels of this administration which played some ungodly roles in impeding the progress of the administration in providing necessary infrastructure and stood in its way on the fight against corruption. The lackluster attitude of the legislature in passing the anti-corruption bills and budget padding couple with refusal to confirm some heads of government agencies were arguably responsible for the decimal performance of the administration.

However, the failure of the party to produce and stand by both it’s internal zoning of key political offices and to ensure that all APC Senators and Members of the House of Representatives voted for its preferred candidates was responsible for the setbacks it suffered while some of its members refused to tow the party line and connived with the Senators and Members of an opposition to rubbish the party.

The statement credited to the President to the effect that he could work with whoever emerged as leaders of the National Assembly also contributed greatly to the show of shame in the emergence of Bukola Saraki, then an APC senator who later abandoned the party and Ike Ekweremadu of the opposition PDP as Senate President and Deputy Senate President respectively in a marriage of inconvenience. The consequences of which are better imagined.

The roles played by some APC Senators in the emergence and keeping of Saraki needs not to be forgotten as some are still in the APC fold and are still capable of hijacking the leadership of especially the Senate. The inglorious role played by 2 Senators that are gunning for the leadership of the 9th Senate is still fresh in the minds of Nigerians. Today, some of these Senators are still around and scheming to control the Senate and could do everything possible to actualize their ambitions including conniving with the opposition.

These were the same crop of politicians who even after bulldozing Saraki to power, still ensured he remains the Senate President, even while he was accused of violation of the code of conduct law and followed him to the CCT in a show of solidarity. It took the suspension of one of the Senators to force him to part ways with the Senate President and return to the APC fold.

The 2 Prominent Senators from the North East did everything possible to sabotage the administration up to the time the Senate President left and his co-travelers of the nPDP group left the APC and reverted back to their old party and they only remained in the APC because they knew that the people in their constituencies would not vote for them if they had decamped to PDP or any other political party owing to the massive support of Mr President in the zone.

At this point, it is necessary for the APC to ensure that these set of ‘traitors’ do not get what they want with a view to avoiding the mistake of the past. It’s also important for the party to reward loyalty by supporting the aspiration of a ranking senator, that did not only stabilize the APC caucus during the recent gale of defections but stood against all antics of the present Senate leadership to disparage the Buhari administration.

The emergence of loyal party members as leaders of both chambers of the National Assembly would be critical to the overall achievement of the Next Level and a pointer to the discipline or otherwise of the APC legislators.

The ruling party must ensure that everything is done, and every loophole is blocked for the avoidance of the emergence of any of those ‘traitors’ as the next Senate President. As the saying goes, once beaten, twice shy.

Disloyalty to laid down party principles must be viewed strongly and erring party legislators that attempts to subjugate the will of the party ought to be disciplined in line with the party rules and procedures.

The next 4years of the Buhari administration is critical to the success of the party in subsequent elections and anything that would be injurious to the achievement of any of its principal promises in Security, Fight Against corruption needs to be tackled with all seriousness.

Similarly, the Presidency needs to be interested in who emerged as principal officers at the National Assembly, how loyal the officers are to the party, how well they identified with the ideals of the party in the past and their capacity to assist the government in the fulfillment of its campaign promises.

Any chance may be exploited by the PDP moles whose only purpose of belonging in the ruling party is to win an election and to serve their personal political ambitions which are largely at variance with the ideal of the APC and the promises of the President.

A stitch in time, they say saves nine. A Hausa proverb says “Maciji baya cizon mumini sau biyu a rami daya”.

Mr Ismail sent this piece from Gandun Albasa, Kano.