The troubles confronting the Senate of the 8th Assembly began from the beginning. Unlike previous efforts to delegitimise the senate, the new approach is subtle. The traducers chose individuals to target in a bid to raise sufficient bile that will make the senate react. And when the reactions come, the Nigerian people are programmed to believe that the upper arm of the legislature is just out to play cheap. But the matter is far deeper than that. It is important therefore for everyone involved to sheath their swords.
When the senate is put in such difficult situations, the job for which they were elected will be very difficult to accomplish. And when the senate fails to play its constitutional role, it is the people that will suffer from the fallout. While the senate has limitations in its powers, however, there are actions or resolutions that it takes which must elicit some kind of action from the executive. Surely, resolutions are advisory; however, in a democracy, every such statement is important. Any presidency worth its salt must take seriously such resolutions.
Let’s take for example the altercation between the senate and the Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hamid Ali, while the senate did come up with restrictive resolutions like calling on the CG to resign for certain infractions, instead of the Customs boss to be contrite, he has gone ahead to state clearly that he was going to implement the controversial retroactive Customs duty payment. He did not explore ways of getting the matter resolved, instead he chose the hawkish style by issuing a statement to support his readiness to commence the implementation of the said policy.
As if that is not enough, both the CG and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, rushed to court to prevent senate from doing its job. These are persons that are said to be very close to the president. Ali was the president’s chief of staff, while Lawal worked closely with Buhari before he was appointed SGF. The matter of the acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibrahim Magu is even more pathetic. It appears that since the man’s confirmation hearing turned out negative for him, the man has employed the powers of his agency to target individual senators. And if newspaper reports over the weekend are anything to go by, there are other personages that may have teamed up with Magu to do the senate in.
Suddenly many senators are now under probe. Many such probes somehow find the legs to walk out of EFCC files into newspaper or portal news feed. If it is true that the EFCC funded by the National Assembly somehow finds space to collude with individuals to spread damaging reports about individual senators, then the senate must react. And react in a very profound manner. This sort of inconvenient liaison must not be tolerated. In the same vein, it is apparent some people are hell bent on circumventing the senate by sponsoring puerile news stories on different platforms in the media. They allege all manners of infractions; from the comical to the unbelievable.
Even the President of the Senate is not spared. Based on a story in an online platform, suspended Senator Ali Ndume came to the floor of the Senate to disparage his reputation. Without investigation, the senator from Borno south preferred these allegations on the floor of the senate. This was a well choreographed action beginning from the news medium. It was a well calculated attempt to hurt the image of the senate president and the senate as an institution. This is not the first time. That same online medium has run several ponzi stories about Dr. Bukola Saraki in the past. The hoax of stories has not deterred.
Even the current trial at the CCode of Conduct TTTribunal of Dr. Saraki is part of that scheme. But these must stop. There is time for everything. This time is not the time for frivolities. The country faces challenges of monumental propositions which require a synergised government; a government which works harmoniously among the three arms on a daily basis. At this juncture, the Federal Government must not only be seen to be working, by now it should have perfected efforts to work in harmony with the 36 states of the federation. Those are what bring real change. For now, the trial of the senate must cease. Nigerians deserve dividends of democracy not doubts as to what is going on.