Lawan, Ndume and the politics of endorsement
By Solomon Fowowe
“May the best man win.” The catchphrase that precedes every contest even if there is barely any belief in it. It’s simple, the All Progressive’s Congress wanted their man to win. The opposition People’s Democratic Party crunched the numbers, knew there wasn’t any way they could pull off a win with a PDP candidate.
They simply acted as the opposition party unwilling to endure an embarrassing loss, pitched their tent behind the APC dissident, Senator Ali Ndume. It’s APC vs APC for all PDP cares.
“As the opposition political party, we must be seen to play a responsible opposition role. Yes, none of the two presiding officers we are rooting for belong to the PDP, but we know that as a critical member of the National Assembly, we must have a say in the election of its leaders. This is the reason why we are backing both Ndume and Bago,” PDP Chairman, Uche Secondus told Punch
In a statement signed by PDP’s national secretary, Umar Tsauri, the party noted that its decision was in order “deepen democracy, ensure a strong and independent legislature, strict compliance with the principle of separation of powers as well as constitutional checks and balances in the polity.”
Admittedly, there were a lot of factors at play as the leadership of the 9th National Assembly was contested. Many dealings, tacit and clearly stated promises, quid quo pros but there was something that came first for the APC – the smooth relationship between the Executive and the National Assembly.
None of the frosty, stilted air between President Muhammadu Buhari, Senator Bukola Saraki and Hon Yakubu Dogara regarding bills and the budget.
APC looks to have learnt from the leadership tussle of the 8th National Assembly where they were undercut by Saraki and Dogara. They leveraged on alliances with the opposition People’s Democratic Party to emerge the president of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives against the wishes of the APC leadership.
Saraki’s defiance set the tone for the next four years, his defection from the party three-quarters into his tenure merely formalised the lingering distrust.
APC placed their seal of approval on Senator Ahmad Lawan, made sure there was no meeting on the voting day and persuaded/ordered other candidates from the party to step down. Senator Danjuma Goje stepped down but Senator Ndume remained in the race.
He hoped his act of defiance would produce results. It produced 28 votes while Lawan had 79 votes.
Senator Ndume couldn’t pull off a Saraki-esque machination, for one APC are the wiser, PDP doesn’t have vested interests and Ndume doesn’t quite have the gravitas of the former Senate President.
PDP knew it was going to be a coronation, still, they went through the motions to put up an endorsement as a mere formality. Even if the endorsement meant, parking behind the same senator the PDP led government accused of sponsoring terrorism in Nigeria.
It does feel firmly like an APC-led house. But for democracy’s sake, the big hope will be that the National Assembly will put the country ahead of their party inclinations. That there will be an independent legislature that checks the excesses of the executive.
Credit: The Guardian