By Chidiebere Onyemaizu
After surviving a poorly scripted ‘coup’ attempt , Senate President, Bukola Saraki is weighing options as to how best to fortify his hold on the Nigerian Senate and fend off future moves to unseat him. One of such options is to adopt carrot and stick approach in dealing with his opponents. To this end, reshuffling of the Senate Committees is in the offing.
It has been gathered that some of the Senators who plotted the failed ‘coup’ but now deeply remorseful over their action will likely be appointed Chairmen of new Committees to be created soon in addition to being named Vice chairmen and members of some lucrative Senate Committees respectively.
On the other hand, intransigent plotters who, it has been gathered have gone back to the drawing board to explore more options open to them are to lose their current positions as Chairmen and Vice Chairman of Committees. Also, the suspension Damocles hangs on them. Except they watch their utterances on the floor of the Senate, any of them whose comment is considered ridicule of, and in contempt of the upper chamber risks suspension.
Senator Omo Agege, allegedly linked to the invasion is currently under suspension for making comments considered damaging to the Senate during the election re-ordering debate. The Delta state Senator has since denied leading the Mace snatchers to Senate but baffling was why the invaders walked directly behind him as he strolled into the Chamber despite being under suspension.
Saraki, The source, was informed, is determined to serve out his term, together with Ekweremadu , as Senate President and Deputy Senate President respectively before deciding whether to still remain in the APC or not.
Though ‘thugs’ have been blamed for the invasion of the Senate and stealing of its symbol of authority, the Mace last Wednesday, multiple National Assembly sources say it was actually a unsuccessful attempt to oust Saraki and Ekweremadu in the most grotesque manner. A successful execution of the plot would have resulted in the sealing up of the Senate by security agents.
Ike Ekweremadu was presiding when the invaders came calling as Saraki was out of the country on an official duty. Both men- considered in the presidency and by a faction of the APC as the main Senate arrowheads of opposition to the APC –led federal government- were the targets of the failed putsch. Though Senators behind the move are less than 30, tacit backing from a segment of the APC sympathetic to President Muhammadu Buhari and wants him re-elected and handful of key members of his kitchen cabinet aggressively pursuing the re-election bid would have resulted in two of the plotters “elected” as President of the Senate and Deputy President of the Senate respectively, had Ekweremadu adjourned plenary immediately after the invaders carted away the Mace.
The anti-Saraki/Ekweremadu elements in the Senate did not factor in the Deputy Senate President’s resolve to continue with plenary after the Mace theft and prompt provision of another Mace “even if it means staying here in the (Senate) till 6pm”. Sources swear the plotters had expected that the Senate to dissolve into disarray and hurriedly adjourned after the invasion and subsequent stealing of the mace.
According to sources, had this happened, the pro impeachment Senators would have, under heavy security escort, stormed the Senate, reconvene and pronounce Saraki and Ekweremadu impeached. Because of their number, the ‘impeachment’ would have become a subject of high voltage litigations. However, the ‘new Senate Leadership” would have enjoyed tacit executive recognition complete with full paraphernalia of office. The plan was to keep Saraki and Ekweremadu busy in the courts for the remaining part of their tenure fighting for restoration to office while Senators loyal to them are gradually blackmailed into accepting the illegality of their (Saraki and Ekweremadu) ouster as a fait acommpli.
With Ekweremadu sitting tight and seeing the plenary through to its conclusion, the entire plan not only collapsed but became impracticable. Matters further became complicated for the plotters when Ekweremadu issued a statement describing the invasion as an “attempted coup against an arm of government in Nigeria” and then dashed to the presidential Villa to brief the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo of the situation, in the absence of President Buhari who was in London for the Commonwealth meeting.
Shortly after Ekweremadu’s deft moves punctured the “coup attempt”, deluge of “condemnations” of the invasion, from the National Leadership of the APC and the presidency saturated the traditional and social media.