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Lawan and the foibles of ambition

Lawan and the foibles of ambition
August 17
15:15 2022

BY ABU QASSIM

A good look at Senate President, Ahmed Ibrahim Lawan will tell any perceptive observer that he is an establishment man to the core. He is not a man with the usual, bright facial expression but is always flamboyantly clad while seeking to pitch a tent with the ruling group.

It takes one to have a bureaucratic mind to serve in a legislature like that of Nigeria for 23 years and not have any landmark bill, motion, or even quotable quote to one’s credit. And don’t blame the man from Yobe North District. He is perhaps only one of two legislators who have been in the National Assembly since the return of democracy in 1999. Unlike Lawan who spent his first eight legislative years in the House of Representatives before moving to the Senate in 2007, Nicholas Mutu has also been in the House of Representatives from 1999 to date representing Bomadi/Patani Federal Constituency in Delta State.

In the absence of a memorable bill or motion or oversight initiative, Lawan is synonymous with the behind-the-scene politics of the National Assembly and that has helped him over the years, particularly since his state is one of the few states that have been consistently controlled by the same political party or tendency since 1999.

When he aspired to become the Senate President in 2015, the first time a party he belongs to got the majority in the parliament, Lawan barely campaigned. He solely relied on the party’s establishment, particularly, President Mohammadu Buhari, to impose him on the other 108 members. This was despite the then prevalent configuration in which APC had 59 senators as against the 49 belonging to the opposition PDP.

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He was however made the Senate Leader. In this role, he turned out to be a leader who never took responsibility for the actions or decisions of the body he led, all in a bid to prove his loyalty to the executive arm. He became a ‘see no evil, do no evil’ leader. Anything the executive did was okay by him and he would always side with the presidency against the legislature that he led.

This posture of blind loyalty to the executive ultimately earned him the big prize, the post of Senate President in the 9th Senate as the executive pulled all necessary strings to clear the way for his emergence. Many had thought the Senate Presidency was the perfect platform for such a man with long experience in the legislature to make an impact. He was expected to lead a vibrant, progressive, and dynamic legislature which will introduce reform-oriented legislation and radical ideas that will help to change society for the better.

Again, Lawan proved the positivist and the hopefuls wrong. He chose to lead a legislature that remains the dumbest and clueless assembly of lawmakers ever witnessed in the country. The National Assembly under Lawan is just eager to massage the ego of the executive, approve all the requests made by the executive and turn their face away as the nation is tottering and inching towards the precipice.

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The 9th Assembly continues to watch helplessly as the nation is ravaged by insecurity, poor economy, indiscipline and recklessness by government officials, lack of financial discipline, mounting debts arising from frequent approval for needless loans by the National Assembly, unemployment, high inflation, resultant endemic poverty and decline in the international standing of Nigeria in the comity of nations.

Why would all these evil occurrences remain unchallenged, condoned, and openly perpetrated under the watch of an experienced legislator? The answer became known only in May when out of the blues he publicly declared his intention to vie for the presidency of Nigeria by seeking the presidential ticket of the APC. His joining the race was against the grains of the party’s preference to zone the ticket to the South.

As soon as he joined the race and was presented as the man with the official endorsement of the presidency, the talk became rife in the National Assembly that the decision was a cumulation of the strategic trajectory which the Senate President had drawn to fulfill his agenda and narrow objective of getting the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari to hand over power to him based on his unflinching loyalty to the present administration.

The game is for the Senate President to constantly lead the National Assembly to do the bidding of the presidency, protect the interest of the executive at all times and in all situations, and get the legislators to approve whatever demand is made of them by the executive. In return, Lawan was to get the presidential nod to become first the APC presidential flagbearer and ultimately, the President.

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Now we know that since June 2019 when he became Senate President, Lawan schemes to see the Senate Presidency as a ticket to the presidency. He has designed himself to be a good boy in the estimation of the powers that be in Aso Rock who will then be seen as the Khalifa. He acted as the pliable legislative chief to earn their trust in the Villa. It did not matter to him that, in the process, he could lose the support of the Nigerians.

It is believed the script had been written for him by a benefactor who is no longer around. The Senate President acted his part but the Presidency let him down when it mattered most. They refused to boldly compensate him the way he has staunchly supported their interests and satisfied their whims and caprices.

The Buhari group only enjoyed Ahmed Lawan’s blind loyalty. They refused to reciprocate. In all, Nigeria is the loser in this game of the foible of ambition. The legislature remains castrated because its leader placed his ambition over and above national interest. It is an unfortunate development.

Quassim writes from Kaduna

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Views expressed by contributors are strictly personal and not of TheCable.

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