By Jide Ajani
May, 1999. The meeting held somewhere in Apapa, #Lagos. It was a meeting of some leaders of the #Peoples Democratic Movement, #PDM. And the then Vice #President-elect, #Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, was in attendance. The main agenda was the choice of who would be chosen as Senate President. The ostensible choice was #Dr. Chuba Okikadigboli Okadigbo, a man of cerebral elocution and an intellectual thinker with a tincture of nativity. It was agreed that on the day of inauguration of the Senate, Okadigbo would be voted in as Senate President. Of course he had all that was required to lead the Senate and, by extension, the #National Assembly.
However, some black hands, never really comfortable with Obasanjo’s sudden closeness to and belief in Atiku, pointed out to the former the dangers inherent in and the possible consequences that would arise from surrendering the headship of the Senate to the latter.
They succeeded in convincing Obasanjo that he, as President and Commander-in-Chief, should move to dominate the polity.
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Enter Senator Evan(s) Enwerem of blessed memory. It was while shopping for a malleable Senate President that Obasanjo settled for Enwerem. By elbowing some and intimidating others, and even playing the ethnic card with some senators of Yoruba extraction, Obasanjo had his way. But not after the polity had been sufficiently overheated and poisoned.
Fast forward to May/June, 2015!
Whereas it was the #Peoples Democratic Party, #PDP, that had to contend with the internal wrangling that led to Enwerem’s emergence, today it is the All Progressives Congress, #APC, that is having to (mis)manage its success.
Fundamentally, its leaders got it wrong by engaging in a gratuitous double-speak. First it appeared to have zoned the Senate presidency to the North Central geo-political zone.
For some strange reason, it then tossed the office between that zone and the North-East, before working out a joint pursuit whereby #Senator Ahmed Lawan from the North-East would go for it while the original contender, #George Akume, would be his deputy. But all these after #Bukola Saraki, from the North-Central had commenced lobbying as well as campaigning for the office.
From June 5, 1999 to November 18, 1999 when Enwerem was finally removed, that Senate knew little peace. It spent most of the time plotting and scheming on how to remove its leadership. And whereas those sympathetic to Okadigbo eventually removed Enwerem and made the former Senate president, it did not take long for another plot to be hatched to remove Okadigbo too.
It was an all-night plot that perfected the removal of Enwerem who had actually closed business of the Senate for that Thursday, November 18, 1999 morning; and was already on his way home before another set of senators in the majority re-assembled for a fresh session.
The only business for that day was the removal of Enwerem, with his deputy, #Haruna Abubakar, presiding. Okadigbo was himself removed just a few months after. The malady spread into the broader politicking in the PDP, with #Obasanjo and Atiku ever pulling apart.
Any which way the election of the Senate President goes, the eighth Senate would start off on a poisoned note because nerves are already frayed. The goings-on in the House of Representatives is no better. Cultivated chaos! That is what the APC would end up with.
Written by Jide Ajani for Vanguard
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