Senator Abdullahi Adamu is the chairman, Senate Committee on Agriculture, and in this interview with select journalists, the former governor of Nasarawa State says that the Senate President seat is for the majority party in the Senate, among other happenings in the Red Chamber. RUTH CHOJI was there for LEADERSHIP Friday.
Were you surprised when some Senators including the Senate President crossed over to the opposition parties?
No, I wasn’t because it was something I knew was going to happen sooner or later. The n-PDP have been planning this move for a long time. The pilot to the flight has been Senator Bukola Saraki. Immediately after the elections to the 8th Senate, when we were to be inaugurated, he conspired with some Senators much to the chagrin of the APC and went into an illicit agreement with the PDP Senators, which gave birth to his election as Senate President. On the date of that election, there were only 54 Senators in the hallowed chamber, who purported to have elected him and the rest is history. We tolerated it because the party didn’t want anything that will destabilise governance. The president through his spokesman, Garba Shehu, accepted what had happened and said he will work with them. The party kept quiet all this while and for three years, they did not behave as if they were members of the APC. Everything the president wanted except it serves their own interest, they worked against it. They are very insolent in their language, they were very unbridled in showing their ambitions. All these were allowed to happened for peace to reign. I went to the party headquarters sometime in May when they were complaining that they were discriminated against and that, the party was working against them. I went to the party headquarters and had a press conference but people thought it was just politics among party members. But we knew it was more than that. We knew what was going on and now, time has proven us right. So they have left the APC for the PDP. But like one Hausa artiste put it, the situation is likened to somebody that was on a tree top and decide to jump from te branch and hold on to a leave, thinking it will make him safe. They have failed. I am not a prophet but I can tell you that if God will spare our lives, they will regret what they have done.
There were reports that those of you supporting Mr. President were bribed of with N150m each to impeach the Senate President and his deputy. How true are these reports?
I am hearing this for the first time. What do you expect from the PDP? Do you want them to tell the world we are angels or tell the world they are devils? So it’s their word against ours. Unfortunately in this situation, if I have that amount, maybe I will look different from the way I look today.
Is it true that you are eyeing the senate president seat?
I have heard this question time and again. I have the right to contest for the senate president seat because I am qualified, but I have no desire to do so. I am not contesting with anybody. Nobody has declared formally that there is a vacant seat in the Senate leardersip. What we are saying is that, they cannot be so greedy to leave our party and still go away with our crown. The senate president seat is ours to wear because we are in the majority. Everywhere in the civilised world where democracy is practiced, it is the party with majority in parliament that takes the leadership position. So, the right to wear the crown is ours as APC. We want to see what magic they will do this time around to keep themselves in office. That was why Saraki was dragging his feet to leave a longtime ago. they have wanted to leave long before now. They were afraid that if they go, what happens to all the privileges he gets as number three citizen in this country. But now, they will begin to see that they have betrayed themselves and not the APC. They have abused the trust and have shown the world that, they are not worthy of the trust that Senators have given them. They are behaving like somebody who is in a quicksand, trying to wriggle himself out. So, we will just liken them to bad eggs.
The gale of defections is not limited lawmakers as we have seen that three governors have also abandoned the APC and there are reports that some others are likely to follow suit. What is your take?
No politicians in a normal situation will tell you that he is happy losing members. Unless he doesn’t understand the dynamics of politics. But we had a choice of whether to let bad eggs remain in the camp or we allow them to continue and do damage in our midst. The best option is to let them go. You can force a horse to a river but you can’t force it to drink the water. Here they are, elected members of the APC who got everything they wanted, yet they decided to leave. You will be surprised how many Senators from the PDP will join the APC because the truth will soon be out.
Some have also blamed the new chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, for the mass defections. Do you share such view?
No, that is not true. He is such a fine leader and the time under which he is providing leadership is unique that he must do the bidding of the moment. He must be proactive. He is taking the fight to their court. That is exceptionally good. That is what we were not doing and that was why people were able to do the damage they did. If we had that kind of leadership earlier, they wouldn’t have gone far or probably they would have been checkmated. I think Oshiomhole is giving us the kind of leadership we deserve at this point in time.
What are the impacts of these defections?
I don’t want to over-emphasise the side effects. If you are familiar with democracy, each time there is election coming up, the tempo increased. The politics changes, it is not like everyday politics. When America was going to election in 2016, you saw how the dynamics changed, there were criticisms, allegations and so on. Go to Germany, Great Britain and the rest, it is all the same. It happens. For those not familiar with this kind of development, they get scared. Elections will come and go, APC will be re-elected and Buhari will be re-elected.
The Senate President has come out to say that you are supporting the President because of your case with EFCC. What is your reaction to this?
That is not true. I will urge the media to do their investigations well. I was discharged and all charges against me were dropped since June 28, 2016. This has been over and Saraki knows about it. When I came back to Abuja after the case was over, I went and told him. May be because other Senators did not follow me to court like they used to follow the Senate President, which is why mine wasn’t loud. Whenever he has a case, Senators will follow him because of eye service and because I didn’t have that kind of standing and my case was not a high profile case like his own, the media did not give it a wide coverage. When the court order was given for my discharge, nobody made noise about it. I am surprised that journalists still come to ask me the same question. Saraki is a drowning person and so, he will say anything to disparage others. You can see how he denied telling me that Dino was a clown.
But like I know one day I will dead and be buried in my grave alone that Saraki told me that Dino was a clown. I made a statement on the floor of the hallowed chamber to the effect that, I don’t like the way some of our colleagues behave on the hallowed floor of the Senate. Some of them do it during debates, the language they use is unbecoming of Senators. We are seen as elder statesmen, so we should behave as one. It is very unbecoming when you call a President by his name and say unprintable names about this government which you are a part of. We are an arm of the government, so we are expected to speak with decorum even if we disagree with some of the government’s actions. My observations were well received and it went viral. The Senate President said he wanted to see me, I went to his office after the sitting and he took me to his private office and asked me why I made the statement, that he sees me as his father. Of course, I started politics with his father. He was a Senator and majority leader. He was a good man, a philanthropist who created the estate called Kwara and brought his son to inherit it. Each time there is a debate on the First Republic and I make contributions, when I mention his father, I used to compliment him. So, Saraki said he always see me as his father. But I said what was happening in the Senate was not right. He set up a committee of eight persons to see why people were talking about the Senate because things were not going well in the Senate. The standard and morality we exhibit leave a lot to be desired. Some of the work that are thrown to committees were not properly done. So, the committee, which I was a member did its job and submitted its report, they killed it, and never debate it till date. I told him that, he shouldn’t allow these things to be done that way. A situation where a Senator will stand up and come to the Senate President’s seat, say what he wants to say or gets up to make his contribution and will be using vulgar language, insulting the President is not right. Some will think what he is saying comes from the Senate President. And he never put them on check. I told him that in my part of the country, we have a saying, if you go to your neighbor’s house and you hear the children saying things unbecoming of you, it’s not the idea of the kids but it is what their parents have been saying to them. So, I told him that he is the father of the house and if anybody says anything, people will attribute it to him.
He said I shouldn’t mined Dino (Melaye) because he takes Dino as a clown. A clown? In the Senate? So it is my word against his. Nobody was there except God and our angels. I told him about Dino and he said, I shouldn’t mind Dino, that he is a clown who is just clowning. Now he denied it. If he is honourable, he will not deny it. He can find some words to justify or modify it, but he denied it because we know what Dino is to him. We are equals. If my son becomes a Senator today and I am there, we will relate as equals. I don’t see Dino as a small boy, I see him as a colleague and that is why I expect some minimum level of good behaviour. I see Saraki as an equal. This democracy belongs to all of us. Unfortunately, in every situation we use America as an example of perfect democracy, but we don’t behave like them. You can’t be in America and then behave the way they are behaving and still hold your head up high. It’s Only in Nigeria that these things happen. You cannot be facing charges of felony and still be holding your head high. We need to have some minimum standards.
I remember in the Second Republic, Waziri Ibrahim aspired to be President and he kept talking about politics without bitterness. Politics must be played without bitterness. We should respect each other’s opinion. We can disagree to agree. It is politics. The signals are a bit rough but this is the fever that come when elections are close by.
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