The Emperor In The Senate, By Ibrahim Olalekan
On June 09 2015, the nation experienced what could be described as hubbub with the crass emergence of Abubakar Bukola Saraki as President of the Senate.
Prior to his emergence, The All Progressives Congress (APC), had chosen Senator Ahmed Ibrahim Lawan as its candidate for the Senate Presidency, but in a stunning blow to the head, Saraki, with the block support of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and some APC senators, defied his party’s wish to emerge as Senate President.
A major drama that played out before his emergence as Senate President was that of him shunning a meeting with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), where Saraki had reportedly fumed that he could not be summoned to a meeting by a mere commissioner, a comment he later denied making.
Despite all these, coupled with his affection for the opposition party, PDP, at his party’s detriment, he has convincingly escaped party’s punishment, thanks to the party Chair, Chief John Oyegun’s inefficiency. Saraki, no doubt enjoys the lucrative and goodies that come with his office so much that he reportedly has a little above 200 aides to himself.
Overtime, Nigerians have seen and read how Saraki has used the institution to punish his colleagues that express contrary opinion or views. His “beloved son” Dino Melaye, representing Kogi West, has been permanently hired as hatchet man for the job.
On March 21, 2017, former Majority Leader, Senator Ali Ndume, at the floor of the plenary, urged the Senate to investigate the allegations that an armoured Range Rover, reportedly belonging to Saraki, said to have cost N298m, but which the chamber later said cost $298,000, was seized by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS). The lawmaker also called on the upper chamber of the National Assembly to investigate the certificate scandal involving Senator Dino Melaye.
Recall that an online news medium, Sahara Reporters, had alleged that Dino Melaye did not graduate from ABU for his first degree, against his claim that he studied Geography in the prestigious institution. The news medium also alleged that Melaye, who is the Chairman, Senate Committee on Federal Capital Territory, bribed his Head of Department, who assisted him to forge his transcript.
In related development, Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), had allegedly seized a bulletproof Range Rover Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) owned by Senate President Bukola Saraki.
However, rather than investigate Ndume’s motion, the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions issued him six months suspension “for bringing Senator Dino Melaye, and the institution of the Senate to unbearable disrepute.” The committee concluded that Ndume’s story “was cooked up with intent to embarrass the Senate President.”
The nation would however not forget signatories to the report and are: Senator Samuel Anyanwu, Senator Obinna Ogba, Senator Jeremiah Useni, Senator Tayo Alasoadura, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, Senator Matthew Urhoghide and Senator Mao Ohuabunwa.
In what appears to be another looming suspension of opposing view, the hatchet man, Dino Melaye, on Tuesday February 20, raised a Point of Order on the floor of plenary demanding that Oma-Agege be probed.
Recall that it was same Melaye that raised the point of order that led to the suspension of Senator Ali Ndume for six months in March last year.
Melaye said, “President Muhammadu Buhari is not only my party man; he is a president we all laboured to vote for. My colleague, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, addressed the media last week. He said the decision taken by this senate was targeted at President Buhari.
“I want to ask that the statement made by Omo-Agege, among other statements, be investigated by the Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions. They need to find out if our actions were targeted at the president, he added.”
Senator Omo-Agege, with nine others: Senators Abdullahi Adamu, Malam Ali Wakili, Abu Ibrahim, Abdullahi Gumel, Binta Masi, Yahaya Abdullahi, Andrew Uchendu, Umaru Kurfi and Benjamin Uwajumogu had addressed the press where they expressed reservation over the change of elections sequence.
If a ranking Senator Ali Ndume could get a six-month suspension, Omo-Agege may be served a year suspension from the Senate for opposing the almighty Saraki. As it stands, the Senate has rejected Omo-Agege’s apology, and he is as good as gone.
Senator Abdullahi Adamu, on his part, got served as same hatchet man, Dino Melaye, signed the letter announcing his sack as Chairman of the Northern Senators Forum (NSF). The letter which was read on the floor of plenary by Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, named Senator Aliyu Wamakko (APC Sokoto), as the new Chairman of the forum-.
Each time a point of order is being raised by the hatchet man – Dino Melaye, and the day the victimized Senator is suspended from the Senate, Saraki has found a way not to attend plenary but delegate Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, to chair plenary for the day and perfect the malicious act.
It is also important to note that progressive Senators in the red chamber are yet to stand against this draconian act, probably because Saraki is yet to touch one of theirs. But how long would they wait before it gets to them?
I will end my note on this broadcast message: “God shall continue to bless President Muhammadu Buhari for allowing Saraki to emerge as Senate President. Saraki now stands exposed and Nigerians can truly see his true character. If Buhari hadn’t allow him, Nigerians won’t have known how intolerant Saraki is and by now they would have been packaging Saraki as a suitable presidential candidate. Thank God for Buhari, Saraki has been exposed as intolerant of opposing views. Imagine if he were President, by now Saraki would have banned Facebook and Twitter.”