Speaker Dogara and the False Appeal To Federal Character -By Adeolu Ademoyo

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Adeolu Ademoyo

Adeolu Ademoyo

 

How can purely sectional and regional interests, which handed Senate Kingship and House speakership to Saraki and Dogara (outside a national institution like a party), approximate national interests? So, it is laughable that Dogara contemptuously cited the notion of federal character after his election (which in the first place relied on extreme conservative and anti-democratic regional groupings) in his refusal of APC’s (a national institution) position on the process to choose other principal officers of the House. The question is: who is fooling who?

In moral situations of treachery and betrayal, the first cut is often the deepest. Hence, moral questions continue to define the questionable political process that led to the emergence of Abubakar Olubukola Saraki as Senate King and Yakubu Dogara as speaker. To compound things, the deep first cut in the now well-known Saraki and Dogara treachery produces a logical slippery slope, which the moral virtues – among humans and citizens in open liberal democracy – of openness, trust, loyalty, faithfulness, honesty are designed to avoid. A part of this slippery slope is the strange account of federal character policy, which Speaker Dogara is falsely and disingenuously waiving to avoid an open self-correction (which his party APC has adroitly handed to him) of his and Saraki’s treachery against the Change Mission.

Let us back up a bit before engaging the main argument. Contrary to critics of party supremacy, in both the Westminster model (in the Awo/Zik/Bello era) and the presidential system (in the more contemporary era), party supremacy is not only morally just and desirable, it is politically and pragmatically sound and desirable. This is because the party is constitutionally the original platform to which citizens gave their mandate and through which the elected (presumably public servants of the people) received their mandate. Except there is a better and more sound alternative, no morally responsible public servant ought to destroy the medium of contract (the party) between her/him and the people, as Dogara and Saraki have done.

Where there is no better alternative party structure to which citizens and their representatives can politically and morally turn, the party that provides the political and moral platform for someone’s mandate is the final guarantor against a representative trading and selling a mandate the people gave. The mistake the APC made was to naively think that elements like Saraki and Dogara were morally turning a new page into APC.

To therefore attack the party (without exiting it) after the fact, like Saraki and Dogara have done, is tantamount to committing an original sin. It is a major moral injury, not only against the party which has served as the vessel through which they have received their mandate, it is a horrific injury against the Nigerian people at large who gave their mandate to the servants – Saraki and Dogara – through the party.

So, when given a chance to correct an original sin, but one fails to and continues to play games like Dogara does by citing the notion of federal character, it is like compounding the original sin. It is actully worse because Dogara is attempting to play one ethno-national group against the other in his self-serving citation of federal character. Due to the fact that Yakubu Dogara is positioning himself as a Christian, it is morally sinful, unchristian and unacceptable for him to do this, for if the analysis is not properly done, the correct rejection of Dogara’s self-serving notion of federal character in constituting the principal officers of the House of Representatives will be wrongly and falsely interpreted and marketed as rivalry of one national group against the other. Obviously, Dogara is enjoying his ethnic baiting.

Before Saraki and Dogara distort these before our eyes, let us repeat the original facts as we have them in the public domain about the APC formula, federal character and national unity. Before and during the 2015 election, APC had its formula worked out. Geopolitically speaking it is: Presidency to the North, Vice Presidency to the West, Senate presidency to the East, and House Speakership to the South-South. Nigerians do not need a Dogara to remind them of an original formula which seethes and bristles in national unity and cohesion-geopolitically speaking.

The notion of federal character matters, for it is a sound principle designed historically for a particular purpose in the country. However, the federal character principle becomes heavily morally impoverished and is emptied of its correct moral qualities when it becomes a pawn in the treacherous hands of politicians like Dogara and Saraki to sustain a treachery and a major infraction against Nigerian people, their Change Mission and against the deepening of the correct party-driven liberal democracy in Nigeria.

In the sad event that the APC did not produce a Senator from the East, the same party Dogara is disingenuously lecturing about Federal Character, produced a formula to share political offices in the Senate and House in deference to the federal character principle. But with the connivance of their colleagues in PDP, Saraki and Dogara destroyed that formula through their vaunting treachery and sectional scheming. All these facts must be documented properly and placed in the public sphere before revisionists like Dogara and others rewrite history.

Just as the sectional and regional scheming behind Dogara has become public knowledge, the fact that Saraki relied on the Ulama from Ilorin and other traditional rulers to get his Senate Kingship has now become public knowledge. So, what can be more derisive and subversive of the politically and morally sound notion of federal character than the fact that extreme conservative regional groupings of the Sultan of Sokoto, Ulama of Ilorin and some traditional rulers are the boosters behind Saraki and Dogara for purely self-serving, feudal, survival and regional reasons and calculations?

How can purely sectional and regional interests, which handed Senate Kingship and House speakership to Saraki and Dogara (outside a national institution like a party), approximate national interests? So, it is laughable that Dogara contemptuously cited the notion of federal character after his election (which in the first place relied on extreme conservative and anti-democratic regional groupings) in his refusal of APC’s (a national institution) position on the process to choose other principal officers of the House. The question is: who is fooling who?

…what will Dogara say about the fact that (using his own criterion and in line with his language about federal character) (i) the president, Mr. Buhari, is a “northerner”, (ii) the Senate King, Mr. Abubakar Olubukola Saraki, is a “northerner”, (iii) the House speaker, Mr. Yakubu Dogara is a “northerner”, (iv) the Chief Justice of the country, Justice Mahmud Mohammed is a “northerner”?

Let us restate this position to avoid any ambiguity. The notion of federal character matters, for it is a sound principle designed historically for a particular purpose in the country. However, the federal character principle becomes heavily morally impoverished and is emptied of its correct moral qualities when it becomes a pawn in the treacherous hands of politicians like Dogara and Saraki to sustain a treachery and a major infraction against Nigerian people, their Change Mission and against the deepening of the correct party-driven liberal democracy in Nigeria.

Dogara’s citation of federal character to reject the party position on the process of constituting principal officers of the House, after his own election which relied heavily on extreme conservative regional groupings in violation of federal character, is disingenuous and morally repulsive. Dogara’s act is nothing but ethnic baiting. And Dogara’s ethnic baiting is unfortunate coming from someone who wishes to be the Speaker of the House for the next four years.

If Dogara and his backers believe in the correctness of their citation of the notion of federal character in rejecting his party’s position, then he must (for reasons that he needs to be consistent with his own reading and citation of the notion of federal character) re-examine his position as the Speaker or cease to be the Speaker of the House of the Eighth National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. This is because: what will Dogara say about the fact that (using his own criterion and in line with his language about federal character) (i) the president, Mr. Buhari, is a “northerner”, (ii) the Senate King, Mr. Abubakar Olubukola Saraki, is a “northerner”, (iii) the House speaker, Mr. Yakubu Dogara is a “northerner”, (iv) the Chief Justice of the country, Justice Mahmud Mohammed is a “northerner”?

My position is a defence of a party-driven liberal democracy and to pointedly show (based on his own criterion) the absurdity in Dogara’s self-serving position.

And seeing that “northerners” occupy the first four most senior public offices in the country, if Saraki and Dogara’s reading and citation of the notion of federal character in holding onto the consequences of their regional and sectional scheming over the fate of the country are correct, were they not aware that their vaunting ambitions to be Senate President and House Speaker, sectional and regional scheming, stand in violation of their reading and citation of the federal character principle?

My position in this essay is a deliberate attempt to show the lie in Saraki and Dogara’s position and the destructive nature of their ethnic baiting. Of course I do not believe in their ethnic rubbish, for sectional and backward ethnic politics, and the misuse of ethnicity as an otherwise affirmative principle has set the country back, and is precisely what the APC set out to correct in its original zoning formula. This was a reason the moral voices in the country gravitated towards APC during the 2015 election, resulting, in an unambiguous and precise manner, in Mr. Buhari becoming the leader.

My position is a defence of a party-driven liberal democracy and to pointedly show (based on his own criterion) the absurdity in Dogara’s self-serving position. And for reasons of consistency, Dogara’s absurdity and inconsistency cannot hold precisely because he and Saraki’s treachery of the Change Mission landed the country in this mess in the first place. To then be given the chance to self-correct and clean the mess they produced (when they put their vaunting personal ambitions far ahead of the fate of the country) so that the country can move forward, and for Dogara to refuse and then want to play one ethnic group against the other shows that he and Saraki are very conscious of their conspiracy, conservative and extreme reactionary position against the Change Mission of the Nigerian people.

Hence, Nigerian people must be ready to engage and do a major political struggle against Saraki and Dogara as their representatives and the public faces of the extremely conservative status quo in the Nigerian polity in the next four years. This is the same conservative status quo (which is against the ethos of a liberal democracy) Nigerians coalesced around, in supporting the Change Mission, to fight and reject in the recent 2015 elections.

Adeolu Ademoyo [email protected] Africana Studies and Research Center, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.

 

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