Archive | June, 2015

President Buhari Dealt a Major Defeat in National Assembly

9 Jun

David O. Kuranga, Ph.D. The author is the Managing Director and Principal of Kuranga and Associates, a full-service investment, political and economic risk consultancy, and asset management firm that specializes in Africa. He is also the author of The Power of Interdependence with Palgrave Macmillan Press.

Newly elected Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, and his APC ruling party have just been dealt a massive blow to their quest to overhaul and reform governance in Nigeria. The ruling APC party’s candidates failed to secure the two leadership positions in both the Senate and the House of Reps. Despite having the majority in both houses, APC members who had previously defected from the PDP to the APC just 1 year ago, rejoined with their PDP colleagues to elect themselves as leaders of both houses refusing to support the candidates chosen by the APC caucus in both houses. The Senate selected Sen. Bukola Saraki of Kwara state, an APC Senator who had defected from the PDP as the Senate president and re-elected Sen. Ekweremadu of the PDP as the deputy president, despite the fact that Ekweremadu is from the opposition party that has a minority in the Senate! Just as in the Senate, a former PDP defector Rep. Yakubu Dogara has been selected as speaker of the house instead of the APC candidate that was selected by the APC Caucus in that house. Just as with Sen. Saraki, Dogara was largely supported by his former PDP members.

While it comes as no surprise that the allegiance of PDP defectors to the APC and the APC reform agenda is paper thin, and it is clear that their true motivations were more for personal ambitions of power and position, it is shocking that the newly elected president did not have more sway in the matter. If President Buhari is going to have any success in unraveling the complex and heavily entrenched corrupt interests in Nigerian governance, he is going to have to successfully tackle and overcome far more difficult opponents than the ones his party faced and were defeated by in the National Assembly. Secondly, since he will need legislative support for some of his reform agenda, his party’s failure to elect their preferred candidates shows that they do not have sufficient political support in either chamber to do anything. The national assembly gobbles up an enormous amount of the national budget and it is unlikely that this will change in any way given the current dynamic. It is also likely that the same PDP-APC coalition that obstructed the ruling APC party’s candidates from assuming the leadership of both houses where they have the majority of seats, will continue to obstruct the APC agenda in both houses. This is a catastrophic defeat for President Buhari, and he and the APC leadership should handle it accordingly if they intend to have any success at all in implementing their reform agenda.

Both Sen. Saraki and Rep. Dogara have effectively defected again, this time back to the PDP, by going against their newly adopted APC party and the selected candidates of their party’s caucus so that they could assume the leadership posts in both houses. It is clear that both Sen. Saraki and Rep. Dogara want to “have their cake and eat it too”. They both campaigned under the banner of the APC and secured re-election amongst a populace that was bitterly against their former party, the PDP. After they won re-election as APC members they refused to support their new party’s candidates for leadership in their respective houses, deciding instead to reach back out to their former PDP colleagues whom they had defected from and enlist their support to assume the leadership for themselves, even if it meant winning the leadership alongside a PDP deputy and quite likely giving the PDP a number of key committee chairmanships! Having done this, they did not technically defect back to the PDP, and it even appears that they fully intend to remain active members of the APC as well as take part in the APC administration. It would be utterly foolish and the height of political ineptitude if the APC leadership and President Buhari were to accept this and move-on as if nothing happened. There has to be consequences for these actions, they are far too serious to go unanswered. In fact both Sen. Saraki and Rep. Dogara committed political ‘acts of war’ against their newly adopted party. Accordingly they should be treated as a political insurgency until they surrender and resign from their positions. Both Sen. Saraki and Rep. Dogara and the APC members that supported them should be suspended by the APC effective immediately. Along with the suspension they should be completely ostracized and excommunicated from the ruling party. It is clear from their actions they are not really APC members anyways, so allowing them to remain in the inner-circle of the ruling party would be a grave mistake. Finally, they should be made an example of, and the ruling party should spare no resource in ensuring that neither of the two renegades or their core supporters win re-election or secure any other political position after the next election cycle. As President, Buhari himself cannot play a direct role in leveling these sanctions, but he should certainly fully support his party in doing so.

Moving Forward
Now that President Buhari has returned from his G7 trip he and his core advisors need to realize that their honeymoon is over. Their handling of this legislative fiasco was less than stellar and these failures and mistakes may haunt them for some time to come. Just as the president has adopted a war stance in dealing with the insurgency in the north, moving forward he must do the same within the political landscape in Nigeria. Their is nothing to celebrate, no reason to relax, and serious concern for what is to become of the lofty goals to reform the political landscape in Nigeria and stop mismanagement and corruption in governance. As it is right now, the president looks weak, he and his team are very slow to act, and the vice president has demonstrated that he does not have any political clout whatsoever, none of the major political players in Abuja will respect him in the foreseeable future and they have no reason to. His attempts to address the legislative coup of Sen. Saraki and Rep. Dogara were futile and laughable at best. Just a few weeks into his presidency, with no major action or accomplishment and no cabinet in place, the tenure of President Buhari has gotten off to a rocky start. He clearly misjudged his political support-base and neglected to address a political storm until it was too late.

Kuranga and Associates Limited is an investment management advisory firm and an asset manager with a principle practice area of Africa. To learn more about Kuranga and Associates go to © Copyright 2014 David Kuranga. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


David O. Kuranga; Ph.D.
Managing Director
Kuranga & Associates Limited
Phone: 212.363.0936