By Emmanuel Aziken
When Senator Shehu Sani last Wednesday mocked his former party that it had yet to complete one project, he didn’t consider the notable legislative project that was achieved the day before.
Senator Sani had an hour after President Muhammadu Buhari named the Abuja National Stadium after Bashorun MKO Abiola tweeted that the stadium was built by President Olusegun Obasanjo and charged the present administration to consider using its projects for any further immortalization!
The election of the four presiding officers of the National Assembly as prescribed by the National Working Committee, NWC of the All Progressives Congress, APC was, however, an accomplished project. It was one done with a kind of brutal efficacy that would have shocked critics of the ruling party.
Unlike 2015 when the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP spoilt the party, an attempt by the PDP through Senator Ike Ekweremadu to repeat the feat bounced back disastrously.
But it can now be revealed that despite all the bravado by Comrade Adams Oshiomhole that there were solicitations by the ruling party to the PDP not to rock the boat up till the eve of the election.
Your correspondent is informed that all the APC governors were in town to ensure that their legislators were herded towards good behaviour. At one point by Monday evening, some of the governors also met with Ekweremadu whose beef was the candidacy of Senator Ovie Omo-Agege and the failure of the ruling party to project the Southeast for any of the presiding office positions.
It is indeed, telling that for the first time, since the advent of the Fourth Republic that there is no Igbo among the four presiding officers of the National Assembly.
Ekweremadu’s objection to Omo-Agege was that the mace-snatching incident was a desecration of the hallowed chambers and that such acts should not be rewarded with the high office. For the Enugu-born senator, it was more touching that he was the one presiding on the day of the incident.
Your correspondent is also informed that the same argument was also canvassed among APC senators. However, the superior argument that he stood by the party and perhaps acted in the interest of the party prevailed and gave him the position.
That is beside the fact that he had for long been the poster boy of loyalty in the inner recesses of the Presidential Villa.
However, when negotiations facilitated by Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State broke down, the PDP was not in a position to organize itself. Only about three PDP governors were said to be in town facing the might and determination of the APC.
Even more, by that time, Lawan had sufficiently penetrated the PDP caucus.
Lawan had long prepared for the contest. He had proved his loyalty to the party and had sufficiently won the confidence of party elders so that Senator Ali Ndume’s assertions became more of an irritation.
It was widely suggested that Senator David Mark was this time fully backing Lawan and using his political protegee, Senator Abba Moro for leg work.
Four years ago, Mark had backed Lawan but pulled back hours to the election after the majority of the PDP senators-elect voted for Senator Bukola Saraki in an internal PDP caucus. Against his desire, he succumbed perhaps painfully.
It was painful for Mark because Lawan had been very supportive of him as Senate President and been a member of the inner caucus of the Mark team. Indeed, Lawan despite never having been a member of the PDP had consistently over his 20-year stint in the National Assembly almost consistently identified with the power caucuses around the presiding officers in the PDP.
When Aminu Bello Masari contested for the speakership in 2003, Lawan despite being in the ANPP was a regular feature at Masari’s campaign headquarters in the Peniel Apartments in Wuse 2, Abuja.
With the APC still in mirth over this seemingly completed project, there are still important issues that will have to be addressed if the country’s democracy is to go any deeper. First is, how did the party come about its choices of endorsed candidates for the four positions?
What is known is that some two months ago, that the national chairman of the party unfolded Senator Lawan and Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila as the next presiding officers of the National Assembly.
While the two men represent about the best legislators in the National Assembly, the basis of their choice was not made known.
So what we saw was that some men met at the party secretariat and probably received orders from above and were told to go and enforce their preferred nominees for the leadership positions.
So when Senator Omo-Agege, one of the most hardworking legislators of the 8th Senate knelt in Urhobo tradition to greet President Buhari, it was easy for many to mistake his gesture as the ultimate capitulation of the National Assembly to the executive! And undoubtedly, the APC’s most accomplished project.
It can well be imagined if the party had channeled the same energies towards resolving the country’s problems including rescuing Leah Sharibu and the thousands in kidnappers dens around the country!