Even Among Thieves, There Should Be Honour, By Zainab Suleiman Okino

By now, no one should be under the illusion that the political class is working for the generality of the people. Unlike Abraham Lincoln’s definition of democracy as “government of the people, by the people and for the people”, ours is a government of the partisan for the interest of a cabal or self even. But among them, some are literally odious.

The seasonal migration which comes up every pre-election year is a further expose on the rottenness of our politicians, who have already begun the biggest bazaar of the year – shopping for accommodation where their individual interests will be best served. While some are migrating to better comfort zones, others are defecting for their political survival or relevance; and yet others are fleeing to seek asylum elsewhere or for soft landing for past misdemeanours.

And inspite of their huge promises four years ago that have failed, no one is talking of electricity to power our comatose industries, the gradual collapse of an economy that has remained import dependent, as the government is yet to find an answer to the unemployment time bomb. All those are irrelevant now. Instead, we scheme to outmaneuver each other over Buhari or Saraki, the political parties to move to and who is doing or not doing what in the epic battle for survival in Nigeria’s murky political waters.

After the exodus of lawmakers from the ruling APC to end months of speculations, things have never been the same. That act has engendered unlikely alliances and triggered knee-jerk responses with negative consequences. Suddenly, the integrity mantra of the president has lost its appeal, while the anti-corruption toga on the basis of which this government came to power is almost dead. Finally, all pretences are over; what matters now is how the ruling party can retain power and who has the capacity to deliver votes to actualise that goal.

In the criminal plots loading on both sides, it is now a battle of numbers. Who has the higher number of senators to outwit and unseat the other? Unfortunately, when the Directorate of State Services (DSS) carried their overzealousness to a ridiculous extent and blocked the National Assembly to members yesterday, the director general of the DSS paid dearly for it. He was sacked. For the first time almost in almost six months, the Buhari government reacted proactively and stopped the impunity of an arm of the executive.

In the two categories of defectors heating up the polity, at least, the sympathy of Nigerians appears to favour those leaving the ruling party to the opposition, describing their opponents as opportunists. While defection to any party can be legally and morally faulted, it takes courage to abandon the seeming comfort zone of a ruling party with all the trappings and perks of office, incumbency advantage and access to power. Whatever might be the political motive, or what someone described as “between bad eggs and rotten eggs”, it is still more honourable to defect from the ruling party to the uncertainty of the opposition. In this category at the moment is Senate President Saraki, Governors Tambuwal, Ortom and Ahmed and a host of lawmakers.

It is a higher honour for Saraki even, to leave the ruling party than turn the Senate into a rubber stamp organ of the executive. In the last few years of democratic experiment, affront on the ruling party has always worked in favour of the opposition or the country. President Buhari was a beneficiary of such a daring move. Without the defection of Saraki, Tambuwal and five governors from the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), chances are that Jonathan would still be president today, and there would not have been a Buhari now attempting revisionism and harassing defecting politicians.

If being with the ruling party must be some fait accompli, and lawmakers had acceded to his tenure elongation ambition, ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo would have achieved his third term agenda. It is a different ball game for politicians who, either because they know their onions or on the basis of principles, defied inducement and challenged the system to take on the ruling party; but it is another story for those who defect to the ruling party, either for protection from prosecution to cover their dirty past or to seek favours. No wonder, PDP criminals and those who ruined Nigeria, by their act of omission or commission, are now taking solace in the All Progressives Congress (APC). Surely, there should be honour among thieves and for the APC-bound defectors, this saying cannot be truer.

It has been observed that those moving to the ruling party are either running from the long arms of the law or they have skeletons in their cupboards. Earlier in the day, Senator Hope Uzodinma defected to the APC after his altercation with Nigerian Ports Authority chairman, Hadiza Bala Usman over the former’s mismanagement of ports contracts and dredging of Calabar ports…

It is public knowledge that there has been no love lost between the Presidency and the leadership of the National Assembly, a section of which is headed by Dr. Bukola Saraki, whose emergence irked the executive. Thus began the war of attrition that lingered on until the exit of Saraki and his supporters a few days ago. Three governors — Samuel Ortom of Benue State, Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara State and Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State have since followed suit, while the ruling APC has also gained some high-profile lawmakers and personalities, who have either been cajoled or coerced to stay put or decamp from the PDP to the APC, the latest being Senator Akpabio who has just resigned as Senate minority leader in preparation for his exit from the PDP.

Meanwhile, the ruling APC has already given itself away, by its support of impunity when it unleashed the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) on Governor Ortom and the accountant general of Sokoto State, while shielding those who moved to the APC. It has been observed that those moving to the ruling party are either running from the long arms of the law or they have skeletons in their cupboards.

Earlier in the day, Senator Hope Uzodinma defected to the APC after his altercation with Nigerian Ports Authority chairman, Hadiza Bala Usman over the former’s mismanagement of ports contracts and dredging of Calabar ports, and receiving, in the process, $12.5 without “competitive bidding and without delivering on the job” under the Jonathan administration. Senators Bob Effiong, Teslim Folarin, Yele Omunguwa from Ondo State, Joshua Dariye and Gbemi Saraki have also decamped to the ruling APC. Although the EFCC has been on the trail of Akpabio, whom they confronted with the allegations of financial impropriety amounting to N108 billion, he is yet to be formally charged to court.

What will become of the corruption cases against the newly minted APC senators? Your guess is as good as mine.

Contact the writer: zainabsule@yahoo.com, http://www.zainabokino.blogspot.com

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Categories: Column, Opinion

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