BY CHARLES IBEKWE
Nigerians have been silent for too long to the destruction of a revered democratic institution like the Senate. Some clay-footed political sojourners have usurped the powers of the Senate. And instead of deploying it to constructive end, they rather delight in its negative application by haunting colleagues. They are only concerned about the absolute destruction of the tenets and ideals of democracy. And aberration is seething deeper and deeper into horrific extents.
Every Nigerian now knows the 8th Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is apparently under siege. It has nurtured and sustained the culture of impunity and vendetta against Senators who harbor contrary views on national issues. When members cannot freely contribute to debates on the floor of the Senate, it is a direct invitation to chaos and anarchy and Nigeria may be setting another dangerous precedence.
In the last two years, the posture of the Senate is that of an institution extremely intolerant of itself and aversed to opposing views, which is the hallmark of democratic politics. It struggles hard to project a public image of sanctity and veneration, but in actual reality, lacks such nobility.
To say the least, the image and public rating of the current Senate has suffered an incurable damage. And it is like the 109-member Red chamber is bewitched and remote-controlled by these two undertakers- Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki and his alter ego, Senator Dino Melaye. What is good in their sight, no matter the extent of its absurdity is stamped on other lawmakers. And conversely, the duo could brand good as evil and ferociously battle to enforce it, even against any rationality.
So, Saraki, who has commandeered a seat he fraudulently obtained through forgery of Senate Standing rules and his poster boy, Melaye, who smuggled himself into the Senate through a rigged election, freely intimidate and humiliate their colleagues. They arrange suspensions and outrightly bully colleagues each time views canvassed in plenary appear injurious to their selfish and satanic interests.
What is happening inside the Saraki Senate is disastrous and a national disgrace. The hallowed chambers have been reduced to a comic theatre, with just two actors. So, each time Senator Melaye moves an evil motion, Senator Saraki is handy to second. Or when Saraki moves a motion on any evil plot, Melaye rushes to accord it legitimacy. Nigerians hear nothing else from the Senate, except the antics and pranks of these two men, who have obviously converted the Senate into their personal property.
To many Nigerians, this was anticipated from the outset based on the manner the leadership emerged. Of course when the foundation of a house is faulty, the entire house stands the risk of collapse.
So, Senator Saraki gave the early signals that he could freely trample on the rights and liberties of others, the moment he conspired with dishonourable characters to violate his party’s zoning formula and forged Senate Standing rules to emerge Senate President. Now, those who were in the dark on why Saraki deviously scrambled to lead the Senate have been clarified by the continued aberrations in the Red Chamber.
What is intriguing is the glee with which these odious acts are constructed and executed. More appalling is the use of supposedly sane and respected men to perpetrate this culture of impunity. They are used as canon folders to perform very undignified and disgraceful actions to please Saraki and his cohorts. And nobody knows when it would abate.
Just last week, another macabre drama occurred on the floor of the Senate. In his usual style of politics of brigandage, the certified badge of Saraki and Melaye, a palace coup was staged against Senator Abdullahi Adamu (Nasarawa West). They conspired to oust him as Chairman, Northern Senators Forum (NSF).
Senator Adamu’s only crime was his stiff opposition to the sequence of election in the reordered bill passed by the Senate. He led other Senators in opposition by staging a walkout, submitting that it was targeted at President Muhammedu Buhari. His action angered Saraki and his co-travellers.
So, Senator Melaye, the leech in Senate stretched further afield to fetch Senator Adamu’s sins on his leadership of the NSF by alleging financial mismanagement and maladministration of the forum. When Melaye presented a letter purportedly signed by the NSF members, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the session, quickly accepted it and announced the leadership change. It ended Senator Adamu’s headship of NSF, as Senator Aliyu Wamakko stepped in as replacement.
But Senator Adamu is not the only one suffering the snares of Senators Saraki and Melaya on their opposing views against the reordered sequence of election bill. Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, who represents Delta Central Senatorial district is also trapped in the storm. Senator Omo-Agege who shared the same sentiments with the clique of Senator Adamu has been referred to the Committee on Ethics and Privileges for his insistence that the re-order of election sequence was unnecessary and targeted at President Buhari.
Senator Omo-Agege was scorned and humiliated for holding an opinion in democracy. The same Melaye raised a motion for his investigation by the Senate Ethics and Privileges committee, describing Omo-Agege’s comments as mischievous and unpalatable and it was hurriedly approved. Sensing the gang-up against his further humiliation with a suspension, Senator Omo-Agege had to recant his words to gladden the hearts of the hatchet men in the Senate.
senate to probe Omo Agege over Buhari comment
It is the same mentality of barbaric intimidation of colleagues that led to the six-months suspension of former Majority leader, Senator Ali Ndume of Borno South Senatorial district. He bruised the ego of the demigods in the Senate by raising a motion for the investigation of media reports which allegedly linked Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki to the seized bulletproof Range Rover by Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and the allegations of certificate forgery against Senator Melaye.
Expectedly, the Committee on Ethics and privileges absolved both Saraki and Melaye; but passed a verdict of guilt on Senator Ndume, slamming a lengthy suspension on him. It claimed Ndume failed to investigate to ascertain the veracity of the allegations before making it public. A court later invalidated the suspension, a proof that the Senate resorted to ambush and jungle justice.
But quite strangely, in the malicious designs to rattle Senator Ali Ndume, all the senators lost their sanity and sense of human compassion. They preferred to forget that the Senator is representing an area devastated by Boko Haram terrorism. They least remembered that denying such deprived communities, worse hit by terrorism, representation was sublime exhibition of inhumanity. But these soulless, characters kept Ndume away for 90 Legislative days.
Saraki and his minions in the Senate have taken Nigerians for granted for too long. It is totally ridiculous that Nigeria would condescend to such limits of anti-democratic posturing. It is pathetic and unfortunate that Saraki has been granted the franchise of transferring his godfatherism tactics from Kwara state to the National Assembly unchallenged .
To influence Northern caucus in the Senate in hurriedly changing Senator Abdullahi Adama for supporting the President is the latest manifestation of crude politics. That a Senator cannot express his fundamental right choice without consequence is another proof that everything has gone wrong under these dark agents.
An adage says, when you shake a leper, he wants an embrace. Saraki’s politics of brigandage and virus of anti-democratic tendencies are fast discoloring the values of democracy across the nation. It is time to halt these anomalies, if not, sooner or later, it shall light a conflagration impossible to extinguish. The Red chamber is the Senate of Nigeria and not Senators Saraki or Melaye’s personal patrimony.
IBEKWE wrote this piece from Enugu, Enugu State.