“A weapon is defensive or offensive depending on which end is pointing at you.” Premier Aristide Briande, 1862-1932.
By Dele Sobowale
The recent invasion of the National Assembly, NASS, by officers of the Department of State Service, DSS, under Director General, Lawal Daura, was not the first since 1999. In 2014, under former President Jonathan, of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, it was the Nigeria Police which assaulted the second arm of government in order to foster GEJ’s and PDP’s interests. Lawmakers of the PDP wanting to decamp to the All Progressives Congress, APC, had to scale the walls to enter the legally hallowed chambers of parliament to continue their deliberations. History has already recorded that Jonathan in a most unpatriotic act never sacked the Inspector General of Police who ordered the invasion. Myopic national Nigerian leaders have always acted as if the history of Nigeria or their states will end with them. Those in the PDP today shedding crocodile tears about the rape of democracy on account of that invasion in 2014 represent the reason why Nigeria’s democracy remains brutish and will not get us anywhere as a nation.
Armed and masked DSS officials, like armed robbers, operating openly, was again first introduced by Jonathan in 2014 in Ekiti for the Governor’s election in support of Fayose. Nigeria’s DSS, starting from GEJ and continuing with Buhari has, with the approval of the two Presidents, legalized brazen armed attacks on Nigerian citizens by Unknown DSS men”. History will not remember both of them kindly for it. The two Presidents, who cannot remember the advice of that old sage, the Zik of Africa – “No condition is permanent” – have against the spirit of the constitution allowed masked armed DSS officials to be deployed in support of their own political interests. When GEJ first introduced that atrocity in Ekiti in 2014, it never occurred to him that the weapon whose nozzle faced his opponents at the time would be turned around to terrorise his friends four years later. Even, their deployment to Ekiti by this administration follows the same pattern of thoughtlessness. It never makes sense to subvert the constitution to serve your purposes because you never know what lies in the future. The longest reigning President – Haile Selasie, Tubman, Jawara, Mobutu, Mogabe – is only a transient occupant of the corridors of power over the long stretch of history.
All that is a prelude, admittedly long, to today’s sermon. Last week, in the first part of this series, two men symbolizing the desperation and utter selfishness of our politicians in Nigeria today were to be introduced. Only one was discussed. By way of introducing the second character in the tragic drama playing out nationwide, permit me to start where I ended.
“Saraki will be impeached.” Oshiomole, APC Chairman.
Using Adams to bring Saraki on stage is deliberate. They are two politicians who exhibit all the characteristics that should scare the living daylights out of us because of misapplied natural political talents. The APC Chairman talks first and thinks later and usually of excuses. Saraki seldom talks. And, when he does, he is so coldly logical one would strain mightily to find a fault with what he had said. Let me quickly add that his engaging personality when you meet him is totally charming. He hardly raises his voice in anger. Cool, calculating and deliberate, one cannot help wondering if ordinary human blood flows in his veins and arteries. A master of intrigues, he has managed to sew together factions of political parties in order to achieve his own objectives. He had taken several political gambles and he had won them all. Given his track record of building consensus among opposing parties, he should have been the ideal candidate for President – if according to rumours he is aspiring to that position. But, he scares the hell out of me for a simple reason – self-centredness.
“The three most important personal qualities [of leaders] are: imagination, courage and selflessness.” (BOOK OF QUOTES p 144).
One can score Saraki extremely high on courage, not so high on imagination and very low on selflessness. Explanations are needed.
A coward would have caved in under the pressure of the avalanche of legal problems which confronted him shortly after spearheading the coup against the leaders of the APC in the NASS. Someone lacking in guts would have gone on his hands and knees to Aso Rock to beg for mercy and to surrender his position as Senate President. Not Saraki. Like Napoleon Bonaparte, 1769-1821, he would rather die fighting instead of living at the mercy of his adversaries. He had been crossing swords with several groups and individuals at the same time and he is apparently not even sweating.
However, both as Governor and President of the Senate, he had not demonstrated sufficient imagination.
Saraki’s three years-plus as Senate President was an opportunity to carve out a niche for himself. Had he developed a passion for a programme national in scope and beneficial to millions of Nigerians, “budget padding” would have been directed at that passion. I was born and now live in Lagos Island by choice. I know the entire Island like the back of my hand. Somebody who knows the place better will have to show me the constituency projects executed by all the members of the Federal House of Representatives and the Senator representing us.
Given this opportunity, Saraki has exchanged gold for dross. Posterity can never remember him and David Mark for all the constituency allowances they granted. He should ask somebody to conduct research into US history and it would reveal how a few passionate lawmakers had used the God given opportunity to get laws passed which still benefit millions till today. They live forever in the hearts of men.
Selflessness is one attribute of leadership on which Saraki ranks low. Unlike those who grew up in the gutter and became governors in oil-producing states, Saraki was born into wealth. So, he is not openly avaricious. A man of his other formidable political skills and charisma would have made a wonderful President. But, there is still time for him to change. Perhaps, now that he is considering running for President, he will begin to show Nigerians that he cares about them and not just himself.
So, those are the two contestants – Oshiomhole and Saraki. And, it is my guess that Adams will be slaughtered. A boxer who gets into the ring swinging blows with both hands without strategy is a dead duck for the methodical counter-puncher. Saraki will not be impeached because the APC Chairman wants him sacked. He will go only if his co-conspirators in the Senate find him expendable. But, for Nigerians, Saraki’s victory will not constitute a “victory for democracy”. It will amount to victory for the conspirators to seize the Senate purely for their own benefit.
WILL OSINBAJO BE ON THE TICKET IN 2019?
“Anyone is illusioned who doesn’t get ready for the worst.”
C.P. Snow, 1905-1980 (VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS, p100).
Poor Osinbajo! The Vice President of Nigeria might just be finding out that you can win and lose at the same time. His sack of Lawal Daura, the former Director of the Department of State Services, DSS, which brought him global approval might have sealed his fate as running mate to Buhari in 2019. Daura, who is totally unfit to manage that office except in a fascist regime had long acted with impunity which was condoned by Buhari. Appetite grows with eating and there was no reason for Buhari to think that his “godson” would not take more bites out of our constitution. There was no word of disapproval when he did.
School is still out on why Daura invaded the National Assembly. But, I can bet my last naira that he acted “on orders from above” – excluding Osinbajo. He might never disclose the truth now that the plot has blown up in their faces. That is one of the codes of the secret service globally. When caught; you go down alone.
Unfortunately, Osinbajo has become a victim of the botched invasion. Members of the cabal and other Northerners as well as three prominent Southerners (from Akwa Ibom, Edo and Lagos States) who were privy to the invasion will never forgive the VP for sacking Daura. The worst they expected him to do was to reprimand and move on still leaving Daura in place. The VP exceeded their expectations. So, he must go!!!
LAST LINE: Expect shake-up in Senate Committee Chairmanship positions when the NASS reconvenes. Saraki’s men will grab the plum jobs. Others can go and feed on “bread and water”. Wahala yazo!!