The political atmosphere is charged and members of the National Assembly, particularly in the House of Representatives are forming new alliances.
Interestingly, some members have openly identified with the breakaway faction of the APC and now introduce themselves on the floor as members of the rAPC. While others who have not openly declared allegiance to the new political bloc identify with the group in principle.
This is almost an exact replica of what transpired in 2013, when some political bigwigs declared a faction of the then ruling PDP and coined a new nomenclature referred to as nPDP.
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, just like his predecessor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, in principle has aligned with the new bloc and his support base in the House has received some gains in the past weeks.
These inter-party alignments were very easy to achieve, giving the circumstances which led to emergence of both leaders as Speaker.
In 2011, the PDP leadership zoned the position of Speaker to the South-west and anointed Mulikat Akande Adeola from Oyo state to take the position. However, a rebellious group of the newly elected PDP members teamed-up with the then opposition members in the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) to elect Tambuwal.
The same situation was repeated both in the Senate and House of Representatives in 2015, when presiding officers of both chambers were elected against the dictates of the ruling APC. This background created a fertile ground for the opposition to breed and makes it easy to galvanise a new alliance against the ruling party.
Although, the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP), an alliance of opposition parties and the rAPC have not been mentioned on the floor, happenings in the last one week indicated that members of the mainstream APC are clearly in the minority.
Every motion raised against the conduct of President Muhammadu Buhari or the APC-led government was vigorously supported by the rAPC, the PDP and members of other opposition parties, but as expected, vehemently opposed by members of the mainstream APC.
In the specific case of a motion to suspend the Executive Order 006, recently signed by President Muhammadu Buhari, APC members could only register their displeasure by staging a dramatic walkout from the Chamber when the motion was passed against their interest. This action is a typical way by which the opposition in a parliament makes its statement against decisions adopted by the majority members.
As expected, another implosion is about to occur in the House and this may degenerate to a free for all situation. Almost every debate on the floor last week was laden with emotions and bias, and some almost resulted in fracas.
If the leadership of the House did not move fast to pacify their colleagues and assuage the feeling of acrimony, Nigeria will again witness another embarrassment from our so-called honourable members.
Throwing of chairs and other available objects is not new to our parliament, but a repeat of it will only confirm that the unfortunate actions of the past were not mistakes, and irresponsible behaviours would be considered as our normal.
Nigerians should not forget in hurry that when the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) split into factions in 2013, our honourable members refused to accord themselves even the slightest honour as they threw things at each other during a meeting with leader of the nPDP, Alhaji Kawu Baraje.
Manifestation of all these indications is expected in a full-blown mass defection of members in the coming weeks, while the first batch of defectors will take the lead, another batch may follow after the primary election of political parties.
In my own view, the declaration of rAPC was to establish a faction as legal basis for the long awaited defectors to explore.
…between politics and national security
Inasmuch as I respect the rights of our lawmakers to freely embrace whatever political alliances they deem fit, it is important to note that the very sensitive issue of insecurity is rather too grave to be politicised.
I feel a sense of personal loss when some lawmakers attempt to play politics with motions meant to deal with insecurity.
While it’s true that these lawmakers represent various interests and groups, they should as well understand that the primary responsibility of every government, which they are part of, is to protect lives and properties of citizens irrespective of their religious, cultural, and political affiliation.
Ali Isa JC who represents Balanga/Billiri federal constituency of Gombe state, made my day on Thursday, when he confronted his colleagues with this home truth.
“When I watch most of the international parliaments when they discuss issues, they face national discourse and don’t bother about their tribe, ethnicity, religion or section where they come from. They are more concerned about the country, and about what they can do to save the country. But we have allowed sentiments to keep on dividing us, if we are discussing people that have been slaughtered, we put sentiment, if we are discussing issues to save our democracy, we put sentiment. We should speak for Nigeria, we should speak for the masses and not speak for interests, even if it will affect our own interest and our seats as members of the National Assembly, we should always maintain dignity and the trust Nigerians have bestowed on us.”