A day after controversial elections at the National Assembly threw up Senator Bukola Saraki as the Senate President and Yakubu Dogara as Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nigerians have remained divided over the action of the lawmakers.
While many see what happened as a palace coup owing to the fact that not all the lawmakers were present at the Senate when the election held, others think the action of the lawmakers would strengthen democracy.
Saraki and Dogara emerged the Senate President and Speaker, respectively, on Tuesday against the decision of their party, the All Progressives Congress, APC, which had endorsed Ahmed Lawan as the candidate for the presidency of the Senate and Femi Gbajabiamila for speakership of the House of Representatives.
Many also think the alliance between Saraki and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, which produced the Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu of the PDP,and the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, is unholy and a danger to the APC.
While the PDP hailed the action of the lawmakers, the APC has rejected the election.
In his reaction, Professor Itse Sagay, a constitutional lawyer, kicked against the action of the lawmakers, describing it more as a coup and urging President Muhammadu Buhari not to recognise the leadership of the National Assembly.
He also criticised the manner Saraki and his colleagues emerged principal officers when many of their colleagues who were supposed to be part of the inauguration were not in the chamber.
Senator Shehu Sanni, who spoke more in parables on his Twitter handle, said later on Facebook, “I remain loyal to the party and I will not be part of anything that will undermine the party or jeopardise or undermine the government of our leader, President Muhammadu Buhari.
“Its morally and politically wrong to mobilise our people to defeat the PDP at the polls and now hand over key positions to them at the National Assembly.”
His colleague, Senator Ben Murray-Bruce, a PDP senator, confirmed that he voted for Saraki as Senate President and Ekweremadu as deputy.
“Nigeria is bigger than PDP or APC. We must always do the right thing!
“Political parties are created to serve the masses’ interest and not individual or group interests. That is my ethic in politics.
“Nigeria doesn’t belong to a party. Both the PDP and the APC must allow President Buhari be his own man and the Senate be her own body,” he said.
Olisa Agbakoba, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria simply said the election of principal officers of the Senate was within the law.
Former Minister of Education and rights activist, Oby Ezekwesili, reacted thus: “we have a political class and not a political party problem in our nation. Those among citizens who have ears to hear shall hear.”
She reminded Nigerians of her speech at the last APC Economic Blue Print Launch in Abuja as a lesson for the party.
She also warned Saraki and Dogara that the citizens were eagerly waiting for a transparent National Assembly ready to serve the people and not their pockets.
“(The) good thing is I have all your good governance tweets on my time line. We as citizens shall hold you to them all,” she told Dogara.
Imam Imam, the media aide to Governor Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto State, the APC should just “gather itself, accept the outcome of the National Assembly elections, and work with the new leaders to execute their mandates.
“Making further inflammatory remarks about what happened in NASS will only leave the APC more bruised when it should be convalescing.
“Rather than paint a picture of doomsday scenario, consider the fact that the lawmakers stood and upheld the supremacy of the constitution.
“The South East can now see that APC is not the monster (Doyin) Okupe and FFK (Femi Fani-Kayode) were labelling it to be. Because of national interest, Ekweremadu is Deputy Senate President.”
Also, the Lagos State chapter of the All Progressives Congress has said that the purported elections elected of both Senator Bukola Saraki as the Senate President and Mr. Yakubu Dogara as Speaker of the House of Representatives is a clear transgression of both the tenets of democracy and party politics.
The party said that at this early stage, the APC must come down strongly to mete out sanctions and punishments against treacherous members that perpetrated this ugly charade at this early stage of the party’s life and history.
In a release in Lagos, signed by the Publicity Secretary of the APC in Lagos, Joe Igbokwe, the party said that party discipline must be out rightly enforced at this stage to prevent selfish speculators from derailing the dreams of the party.
It said that outright expulsion is not out of place to send forceful messages to those that will hope to profit from the kind of treachery that produced this leadership of the National Assembly.
“As a party and given the circumstances of our present politics, the APC stands no risk of being eroded by this treachery. Rather, we see the clear road to enforce discipline in the treacherous conduct of some members of the National Assembly.
“We see the need for the party to wield the big stick now to send a message home that treachery will not profit those who might want to cash in on similar circumstances to spite the party and cash personal benefits in the long run. It is certain that these sell outs are not members of the APC and we feel the party must weigh in now and discipline these betrayers.”
The party further stated: “We see this development as a blessing in disguise coming at the time it came for it will enable the party to do a thorough check of its membership and sieve the grain from the chaff so as not to allow those with heavy baggage to inadvertently drag Nigerians back to the PDP cesspool they overwhelmingly voted against in March. The party must respond to this challenge and wean itself of these traitors so as to pave way for party discipline.
“As it stands now, those that connived with the PDP to ridicule and embarrass the APC must be shown the way to the PDP. The party must not blink or hesitate on this for the earlier the battle is drawn, the better for Nigeria and the APC.
“We call for comprehensive and far reaching sanctions on these treacherous members who are PDP but hiding under APC cloaks. We also charge the APC hierarchy to improvise legal means of removing this treacherous leadership of the National Assembly and instilling discipline in members of the party. This treachery must not be allowed to stand!”