Dr.BukolaSaraki the Senator representing Kwara Central Senatorial District who emerged in a most dubious way as Senate President on June 9, 2015 in an election that had only 47 Senators in attendance has declared as unconstitutional and illegal the categorization of the IPOB led by Nnamdi Kanu as a terrorist organization. He personally signed a statement on Monday September 18 in which he said that the National Assembly or more precisely the Senate he presides will investigate the matter.“I wish to state that the announcement of the proscription of the group known as Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) by Governors of the southeast states and the categorization of the group as a terrorist organization by the Nigerian military are unconstitutional and does not follow due process”, he wrote. What was latent to some is now apparent to all. And no one is to be blamed except President Buhari himself.
Many questions are begging for answers here. Is Bukola Saraki not part of this government? Doesn’t he have access to the President? So what does he want to achieve by issuing a public statement contradicting the government’s position of trying to maintain law and order? Is it the Senate that is empowered to declare an action unconstitutional? In any case, at this material time when preserving peace and peaceful coexistence is the main issue, what does Bukola want to achieve with this clearly unhelpful statement?
Since occupying this seat, by hook and crook, Bukola Saraki is acting like a co-president of Nigeria. He has forgotten the fact that he was elected by a fraction of Kwara state and is just one among his 108 other colleagues while the President of Nigeria was elected by the entire nation. For instance, when Donald Trump was elected President of the US last year, President Buhari rightly congratulated him on behalf of Nigeria. Bukola Saraki then sent a separate congratulatory letter to Trump even pledging to “work with him”! Can you beat that? Is Bukola aware of who he is and what his limitations are? I don’t think so. This joke is really getting too far it seems.
It reminds me of what happened in the Republic of Sudan when General Hassan Al-Bashir came to power as President and Dr Hassan Al-Turabi became the Speaker of the Sudan Parliament. Al-Turabi used the parliament to start chipping away the powers of the president gradually and subtly. Before long Al-Bashir found that he was just a president in name as all his powers were taken away by Al-Turabi. Al-Bashir had to quickly stamp his feet and re-assert presidential power. Saraki is lifting straight from Al-Turabi’s playbook.
He should be reminded that it is the constitutional duty of the Armed Forces to help in maintaining law and order in aid of civil authority. The patriotic armed forces of Nigeria are currently undertaking these operations in almost all the 36 states of the federation such as Operation Lafiya Dole; Operation Delta Safe; Operation Harbin Kunama; Operation Iron Fence among others. No one has ever said all these operations are illegal as everyone knows the government is doing these in discharging its primary responsibility of protecting life and property of the people. The armed forces declared the IPOB a terrorist organization because they know them as they are directly engaged with them. The state governors in the five south-eastern states who bear the brunt of the IPOB activities courageously and correctly proscribed the organization just like Governor El-Rufai of Kaduna proscribed the Shia movement. Everywhere in the world it is the executive arm of government that proscribes dangerous organizations. It is nothing new so what is Bukola talking about?
The Senate is on recess in any case. Does it mean government should fold its arms and wait for Bukola’s Senate to debate such serious threat to National Security before it takes action? Does Bukola know that he represents only 1/3 of Kwara state and that any Senator can be Senate President and so cannot compare himself with Nigeria’s president? Is he aware that even if the National Assembly has a role in this when it is on recess the President can take action to arrest the decent to chaos? In any case, is peace not more important than Bukola’s legality? Does Bukola know more about the situation than the Federal and all the affected state governments who are on the same page on this?
Even for confirmation of appointments, in the US where we copy the presidential system they have what is called recess appointments so that the President can directly appoint people during recess which George Bush did when John Bolton was rejected as ambassadorial nominee and Bolton was appointed during recess and remained US ambassador to UN for the Bush years despite his rejection by the US Senate. Bukola should know that there is no co-president in the Nigerian constitution and there can’t be two or multiple centres of power. It is simply impossible.
Bukola may give the PDP opposition party the Deputy Senate President and get away with it. He may even pocket the ruling party leadership as it appears now with his filthy riches and go scot free. He may pocket all the Senators, the distinguished and the disgraceful, and get away with it. But he cannot control or direct the Armed Forces of Nigeria, disgrace them publicly for doing their constitutional duty to the nation because there is only one Commander-in-Chief of Armed Forces who is the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The constitution does not even have provision for a deputy C-in-C. Bukola should know that even Senate resolutions are merely advisory and cannot use that to hold the country to ransom as he threatened to do recently with regards to confirmations of presidential nominees.
He has so far occupied the leadership of the Nigerian Senate in a most unconventional and clearly illegal manner for over two years now. Like everything he has touched –Societe General Bank, which is now defunct; Kwara State government which is now paying his debts, the Senate of Nigeria is a shame and a disgrace to the nation since its last leadership left thanks to the vaulting ambition of this one man. In due course this page will address that ambition and put it in its proper context. But what is happening now is what the Hausa say: “the meat is pulling the dog”. History is on the side of the oppressed.