By Abraham Ogbodo
These days, it is not only a good turn that deserves another good turn. A bad turn is also deserving of a proportionate reward.
In fact, the reward scheme, or more appropriately, the moral order, is now completely upside down and anything goes. Good no longer begets good and bad no longer begets bad. A good turn can bring a bad turn and a bad turn can bring a good turn.
I am sure former Lagos State governor, Ashiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu would be able to explain better. His very good turn in building the APC into a formidable platform that sacked the almighty PDP from power at the centre and in most of the states is not attracting another good turn. This is most worrisome.
If anything, the Ashiwaju good turn has attracted a very bad turn. Precisely, it was his turn to have goodness last Tuesday as the 8th National Assembly got inaugurated, but he got the opposite. His huge calculations to affect the leadership of both the Senate and House of Reps fell flat as persons outside his preferences emerged as President of the Senate and House Speaker.
This is even on one hand. On the other, the bad turn of Senator Bukola Saraki in bringing the PDP to its knees in the last general election attracted a very good turn last Tuesday, when he was elected President of the Senate.
His emergence was determined by the PDP Senators who joined a handful dissenting APC Senators to defeat the APC’s position regarding the Senate presidency. The APC had anointed Senators Ahmed Lawan from Borno State and George Akume from Benue State as president and deputy senate president.
This kind of obstinacy has been advanced into a norm in the political space and every player is learning to imbibe it.
It was clinically applied when the 7Th Assembly was inaugurated on June 4, 2011. Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal and Emeka Ihedioha who emerged speaker and deputy speaker on that day were not the choice of their party, PDP. The PDP had wanted Mrs. Mulikat Akande-Adeola and a Rep from the Northeast as speaker and deputy speaker.
When it mattered most, some rebellious PDP Reps headed by Farouk Lawan did business with opposition elements in the House, mainly members of the then Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) to subvert the party will and created a leadership at the lower chambers that never enjoyed the party’s blessing and which related with the PDP controlled presidency more as enemies than as allies.
When it happened to the PDP, Lai Mohammed, then publicity secretary of the ACN and other prominent party leaders, including Ashiwaju Bola Tinubu hailed the move as deft and beautiful manifestation of a good democracy. It didn’t matter then that it was the lawful slot of the Southwest that the ACN and its leadership had assisted Tambuwal to appropriate.
The politics of making life difficult for former President Goodluck Jonathan through legislative recalcitrance was paramount and anything including regional interest could be traded to ensure that Jonathan never had peace.
But for the upper chamber headed by Senator David Mark who chose to remain a good party man, the legislative opposition to the Jonathan Presidency would have proved insurmountable. The House under the leadership of Tambuwal was more remarkable for its harassment of the executive arm of government than it was rated for the quantity and quality of legislations that it made.
Over-sighting of executive operations was lifted to displace lawmaking as the major legislative business of the House of Reps in the 7th Assembly. One account said the House which could not sit most times in the four-year legislative season to debate bills including the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) summoned ministers and heads of federal agencies and departments to its chambers for questioning for as many as 400 times all in an exaggerated pursuit of oversight functions.
Even after Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal had officially dumped the PDP for the APC, which was then in minority and opposition, the rough politics was stepped up to push the PDP into an underdog in an arena where it ought to have been a champion. Convention was so conveniently subverted to keep Tambuwal at the leadership of the House and from the sidelines, the APC and its leaders had chorused: “Hurray! This is democracy in action!”
Now, what went round in 2011 had finished full circle and came around last Tuesday. It is another classic manifestation of democracy in action. What is even more beautiful is that the APC leadership, which had threatened fire and brimstone in the wake of the upsets has stopped the noise making.
It has come to terms with the reality of a legislative leadership that was established in spite of almighty Ashiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu who Lai Mohammed describes as one of the leaders of the APC even as he limits President Muhammadu Buhari to a mere product of the APC.
A sobered Chief John Odigie-Oyegun APC national chairman told reporters that Bukola Saraki had “been duly elected by his colleagues” and that the party must live with that reality. “It was not comfortable for us but we have been talking. We don’t want to make a song and dance of it; everything is being put in proper perspective” he laboriously explained.
The tone is a world different from the war song earlier rendered by another APC chieftain who described the events of last Tuesday as “assault on the party cohesion” which if not “met with dire consequences” could “mark the beginning of a revolt whose end no one can predict.” That is the most unscientific thing to say.
The end is very predictable and could be very near too. It will not be different from the fate of the PDP, which had followed the same path. And so, it is not true to say the path the APC has chosen is unpredictable. It has chosen the path of destruction.
Perhaps, the APC does not understand itself, which is why it is trying to sound noble or project a character that is alien to it. Precisely, the party is an assemblage of disparate elements who found unity in the common purpose of chasing Jonathan out of Aso Rock Villa. The man has since been pushed back to his roots in Otuoke and the big force which once united the APC has fully dissipated too, exposing the deep cleavages within the party.
Just before Jonathan left for his village, he had noted that there are three presidents standing tall on the APC platform seeking coordinate authority, but that only one of them is elected by Nigerians to exercise governmental authority. What happened last Tuesday was attempt by all presidents, especially the unelected two to exercise co-ordinate powers. It was the first test of supremacy among the APC big rulers after the May 29 inauguration.
The test was programmed to produce a winner and a loser and Ashiwaju who could not push through his preferred candidates into the leadership of both chambers of the National Assembly is considered the clear loser. He has tactically withdrawn to his Lagos base to fight another day. But the other two presidents are not sleeping; they will be constantly fine-tuning strategies to remain on top of the evolving game of cancellation in the APC.
Nobody knows what is on the mind of the Ashiwaju right now. He once solely owned a veritable political vessel called the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). He donated it to form the APC in 2013 hoping to expand his scope beyond the Southwest. That dream is not forthcoming because it is contending with the dreams of other big donors and for the first time, the indomitable Jagaban is falling short of the image of a Roman Centurion who tells people come, and they come, and to others go, and they go!
He is losing that charm. To put it mildly, the Ashiwaju has been conned into surrendering his forces to empower an enemy. It is a costly miscalculation that could lead to the strategic collapse of this iconic politician who goes by so many tough names.
Abraham Ogbodo is a columnist with Guardian Newspaper.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.