But one act that has left me baffled are the political summersaults following the Department of State Security Service (DSS) siege on the National Assembly on Tuesday, August 7. The occupation did not come as a surprise. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) administration had executed a similar operation in 2014 when it tried to remove then Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal. On that occasion, the Honourable Members had thwarted the scheme by climbing the fence and jumping into the Assembly. Given such experience, this time, the state invaders did not allow the legislators anywhere near the gate, so there was no drama of any Honourable or Distinguished climbing the fence.
After about two hours into the siege which was beamed live across the world, the attempted coup to remove Senate President Bukola Saraki who had fled the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and taken shelter in the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) began to unravel.
Acting President Yemi Osinbajo took the decisive step of sacking the powerful Director General of the DSS, Lawal Musa Daura over the invasion. It was a deft move which saved our country from further ridicule. It was an action roundly applauded. The ovation became louder when it was revealed that Daura was being detained and interrogated.
But just as Nigerians were heaving a sigh of relief, a pro-government disinformation machinery began to circulate a story that actually the siege was organized by the Senate President using the secret service in order to embarrass the Buhari administration. It is as ridiculous as claiming that Hilary Clinton took control of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) using it to seize the Congress Building in order to embarrass President Donald Trump. This story is like a child caught dipping his hand in the soup pot and blaming his brother for the act.
Again, this is not new. Fourteen days earlier, another siege had occurred. It was July 24. That day, the Senate was billed to read out the names of Senators defecting from the ruling APC to the PDP. By 6am, officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had laid siege on the home of Deputy Senate President Ekweremadu preventing him from leaving for the Senate on the pretext of an invitation dated that same day and which it had not even served. Simultaneously, a second siege was on at the Senate President’s residence. This was beamed live on television, and the Police which was involved in the latter siege said nothing for hours. When the siege was broken, the Police hierarchy claimed that the Senate President had employed the police to stage a fake siege. It however claimed it was “investigating” the incidence. It is like some true-life crime stories on television when the spouse of a victim with ten or more bullet holes would claim their partner committed ‘suicide’.
Meanwhile, a mammoth crowd witnessed the historic defection of my friend, His Excellency, Senator Godswill Obot Akpabio. The APC almost spoilt the fun with claims that the PDP that gave birth to, weaned and cultured Akpabio, destroyed Akwa Ibom in the last 16 years. It was a Freudian slip because in the period the APC referred to, Akpabio was variously the commissioner for Petroleum and Natural Resources, Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, and Lands and Survey under the Atta administration, before he took over as the Executive Governor of the state for eight years. So logically, if the PDP ruined the state, then nobody would have played a greater role than Akpabio. But never mind, the fun and energetic dancing by APC chieftains went on. I must confess that I have never witnessed a greater sacrifice than that of Akpabio; leaving the PDP where he was Senate Minority Leader, to the APC where he has no known political office. The only explanation for this, is a proverb amongst my Niger Delta people where Akpabio comes from. They say a man that uses a goat to set a trap cannot plan to catch a rabbit; it must be something bigger than a goat.
I salute Akpabio for moving from the PDP to the APC. I wish him luck. I salute Senate President Bukola Saraki for moving from the APC to the PDP. I wish him luck.
Our political elites are practised pugilists with fanciful footwork that would have made Mohammed Ali envious. They shuffle and dance round the ring from the red to the blue corner. This, the uninitiated call cross-carpeting or ‘defections’ We cannot forgive them, for they know what they are doing. What should be of greater concern are our youths and the poor queuing behind these elites, being their foot soldiers on the social media, at campaign events and even on the battle field. Those we should not forgive are ourselves who vote the same people into office but hope each time for a different result. We boxed in ourselves; as a first step towards our emancipation, we need to admit this. When boxed in, think outside the box.