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Mixed reactions trail cross defections in federal legislature


National Assembly

Mixed reactions have greeted lawmakers’ mass defections yesterday at the National Assembly, with most respondents wondering the possible implications on President Buhari’s reelection next year.

Others, however, expressed fears that the movement could grind governance to a standstill, especially the likelihood that the upper chamber might be reluctant to approve any initiative from the executive.

In a statement, yesterday, a former president, Aka Ikenga, Chief Goddy Uwazurike, recalled: “The judicial arm was harassed the other time. Now, the legislative arm is being pummeled! So, only the executive can reign supreme in a democracy?  This is just going back to the philosopher king theory!

“No man can be so wise that he cannot be under the rule of law!  All the three arms in a democracy must be equal and none shall lord it over the others. The constitution has laid down the precise powers of each arm in Sections 4 (legislative), 5 (executive) and 6 (judicial).”

Uwazurike expressed alarm over the way the residences of Saraki and his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, were placed under siege by the police, saying democracy is being emasculated by powers above. “Note the hop, jump to military rule,” he said.

However, the Nigeria National Summit Group (NNSG) urged President Buhari and heads of different agencies under him to tread with caution in deploying the abundant powers available to them under the 1999 Constitution.

NNSG Executive Secretary, Mr. Tony I Uranta, said: “Nobody can deny that Saraki and his colleagues in the National Assembly, very successfully pulled off a deft coup against the APC, reminiscent of the earlier one himself, Rotimi Amaechi, Rabiu Kwankwaso et al pulled off against the PDP going forward to the 2015 elections. We all know that the earlier coup strategy helped Buhari unseat erstwhile President Goodluck Jonathan then.”

While contending that Buhari should be mature enough to accept the realities, Uranta charged the president and APC chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, that as they employ all decent means and ways possible to undo the damage, they should not “deploy any coercive measures that will only tend to concretise grapevine rumours of untoward heavy-handedness in the APC style of governance.

“We implore President Buhari to take a leaf out of President Jonathan’s playbook and exhibit a level of statesmanship that puts the common good of Nigerians above any personal ambition.”

He said politics does not have to be a do-or-die affair, stressing that the commander-in-chief of Nigeria’s armed forces must not only be perceived as tolerant, but also must not allow any excuse for the derailment of our nascent democracy.

“By the way, on behalf of all world citizens, we call on President Buhari to ensure that national stability is sustained and to specifically ensure there is no misadventure on the part of the military, the same way Jonathan did, to ensure national peace and security going forward,” he added.

Yoruba Ronu, on its part, said the defection of 15 senators and 34 lawmakers would not affect Buhari from reelection, just as it described the decamping lawmakers as reactionaries.

In a statement, by its secretary general, Akin Malaoulu, the group said: “We must confess but we are not sad over the political troubles which some reactionary political elements are putting Nigeria’s democracy into gloomy forebodings on account of war against corruption. But, they are not capable or with the capacity to turn the table against APC in the 2019 elections.

“We hold on to these views, mainly because President Buhari was and still is the tree trunk that others leaned on to get into their seats at the National Assembly and their decision to cross carpet though unlawful, will not carry them far and given time they shall all become sober and remorseful soon.”

The group added that respect for law and order with honesty to right the wrongs done everywhere to the helpless and hapless millions of our people are important points that stand in favour Buhari and his government. They warned against forceful impeachment of Buhari, saying the consequences shall be amazing nationwide.

A founding member of APC, Prince Tony Momoh, who spoke to The Guardian on phone, dispelled the fear of coup or danger to democracy because of the unfolding situation.

The former Minister of Information said the development in the National Assembly was normal in any democratic setting, adding, “The Nigeria Constitution does not stop anybody from moving, as far as it is done within the ambit of the law.”

He urged Nigerians not to lose sleep over the development, saying the situation will eventually correct itself.

Meanwhile, a top member of APC expressed fear that the persistent fracas between the two arms of government was an invitation for military incursion, stressing: “The way things are going, there is danger ahead, putting into consideration the frequent killings, fragile economy, crime, the collusion of some retired military chiefs and the body language of international communities to what they considered ethnic cleansing in the nation. These are serious issues that cannot be overlooked in any nation.”

But, while some lawmakers have moved out of the ruling party there is the fear that some governors may follow suit in the nearest future. There is fear that some APC governors, particularly the ones intending to defect in a meeting yesterday said they were uncomfortable with Buhari’s reelection bid in 2019.

A source privy to the meeting told The Guardian that the governors are afraid that should Buhari get a second term, he would do everything possible to go after them and his perceived enemies.

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