Saraki: Putting National Interest First
ISN’T it weird and disturbing that rather than put the interest of the nation uppermost by applying the immense potential of the Nigerian Senate to the hilt, we are at each other’s throat on the inconsequential matter of why Dr. Bukola Saraki should not be Senate President and why Senator Ike Ekweremadu from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ought not to be his Deputy?
Just when we thought we had the change we desired after being forced with different shades of the same colour for 16 years, some citizens are foisting on us needless distractions about the ineligibility of the Senate President simply because he is said not to be the choice of the party in power, All Progressives Congress (APC).
We should handle this matter with extreme care so it does not get out of hand to topple the noble vision of APC and deny us the much needed skills and experience of Saraki. If all we do in tackling this issue is to personalize it by putting Saraki at its center, APC shall be destroying its goodwill and rubbishing its national mandate.
To harp on a so-called pursuit of disciplining its erring lawmakers, as some of the party hawks are insisting, is a lack of understanding of the balance between national interest and party supremacy. There are stages of policy and diplomacy evolution when party gives way to patriotic instincts.
And there are events that dictate that party surrenders its stand to the state. No nation in modern times since the advent of party politics allows party sentiments to subdue its corporate essence. Of course, this is not to diminish the role of the party to the point of instigating a revolt.
No! But what we must note is that we are unwittingly giving scant attention to the time we are wasting in not addressing the core of the matter. This core is that the legislature is the hub of representative democracy. If you have a robust legislative house, you will have an equally robust executive to administer the country.
This would trickle down to engendering a strong social, judicial and economic superstructure. Why? The chamber of the lawmakers is where you brew an enduring canon of good governance that drives society and development. The president is only symbolic of the spirit of government.
The legislative arm is the pilot of the system, wheeled by a conscientious judiciary and an impartial and fearless media. Remove the legislator or neutralize him and the whole system corrupts, collapses, crashes, dies. And judging from what has taken place, the business of government has been mired in the mud of the unnecessary quarrel over the headship of the National Assembly.
President Muhammadu Buhari appears hesitant to present his cabinet to the Senate led by a man over whom his party is split. Yet the wise and popular counsel is that APC should move on and allow Saraki to work in the interest of the nation which also in the long run is in the interest of the party.
For if things go wrong and the APC fails to deliver on account of this selfish partisan bickering, the party would have betrayed the historic mandate the people gave it. That would amount to political irresponsibility of the highest order.
However, there is a plus side to the whole affair. Saraki, the man in centre, is unfazed by what is going on. He hit the ground running. As the leader of Nigeria’s 8th Senate, he has set an agenda that accommodates the architecture of change of the governing party.
He made this clear during various meetings he held with such critical groups as the Nigeria Bar Association, Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre, Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room and Oil Producers Trade Section (OPTS) of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce.
He has also hosted key members of the diplomatic community including envoys of the US, Britain, China and France. According to Mr Yusuph Olaniyonu, Saraki’s Special Adviser on Media: ‘’The envoys…left fully satisfied that a competent, mature, exposed and intelligent man is handling the new Senate and that there is no cause for alarm[concerning]…the synergy that will exist between the two critical arms of government in Nigeria that is destined to change for the better”.
If, as someone recently reminded us while commenting on the current impasse at the National Assembly, ”classical political science teaches that politics is about mutual co-operation and understanding based on concessions on all sides in the ultimate interest of society,” then the time obviously has come to move on and put the past behind us as Saraki and the lawmakers have patriotically done in the interest of the nation.
This is imperative because when APC was campaigning, its leaders never told us that grabbing power from PDP was about sharing the spoils of war through the prism of narrow individual prejudice.
Yes, in the long run, when a political party secures victory at the poll, there must arise a time to reward stakeholders and those who made the victory possible. The party may have the knife and the yam to share the booty. But you don’t do it to cause disaffection and agitation that may rock the boat.
The party must bear in mind the concerns of those aggrieved with the manner of wielding the knife so the knife does not become a fatal weapon of divisive attacks.
As the National Assembly resumes plenary next week, the leaders of APC and the lawmakers must bear in mind that the nation and its citizens look up to them to brush aside parochial inclinations and put sublime considerations in their agenda. Let us get a refreshing breather in our democracy by allowing the current leaders of the National Assembly to function without interference. Alaba, a commentator on public affairs, wrote from Lagos.