By Ibidapo Balogun
The story of the June 9 election in the National Assembly, during which former Kwara State Governor, Senator Bukola Saraki, outfoxed his party, the All Progressives Congress, and most of its Senators, and cut a deal with the opposition Peoples Democratic Party Senators to emerge the President of the Eight Senate, is yet to be fully told.
Cast your mind back to the election, you would recall that most of the ex-governors now in the Senate notable among them Sani Ahmed Yerima (Zamfara), Danjuma Goje (Gombe), Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom), Andy Uba (Anambra?) T.A. Orji (Abia) all supported Saraki in the election.
The reason why most of the former governors in the Senate went for Saraki has now emerged.
It was learnt that, among other reasons, the former governors backed Saraki because they wanted ‘protection’ from prosecution and possible jail terms over their alleged atrocities in office, by a no-nonsense President Muhammadu Buhari.
The former governors viewed Saraki as independent-minded and likely to offer a shield for them in the event of their undue harassment by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for alleged corruption while in office.
But they, on the other hand, perceived Saraki’s opponent, Senator Ahmed Lawan from Yobe State, as an ally of President Buhari who may not be able to stand up against the President when he begins to use the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to go after allegedly corrupt ex-governors.
Lawan, the former Chairman Public Accounts Committee of the Senate, was Buhari’s Coordinator in Yobe State in 2007 when the latter ran for presidency on the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party platform.
At a meeting few days before the June 9 election at the NICON Hilton Hotel, Abuja, some of the ex-governors canvassed the mentioned positions before they made their final decision on the election of Senate president.
According to WESTERN POST sources, the meeting was attended by most of the former governors-turned-senators with a sprinkling of some freshmen in the Senate who were not governors previously.
Former governor Akpabio was said to have made the point succinctly, arguing at the meeting that President Buhari is a no-nonsense man and there was a need to elect a Senate President who could stand up to him (Buhari) on any issue affecting the Senators.
During the election on June 9, Senators Sani Yerima and Goje were particularly vociferous in their support for Saraki. Saraki won unopposed with the votes of 49 PDP and 8 APC Senators.
Other 51 APC Senators who headed for the International Conference Centre, Abuja for a supposed meeting with President Buhari were shut out of the election. By the time they rushed to the Senate chambers when they saw on television that the Eight National Assembly had been convened, the election of Senate President and Deputy Senate President was already over.
After Senator Barnabbas Gemade’s motion that the Senate President put it on record that unity could be a scarce commodity in the Senate the way and manner the election was conducted, it was Senator Goje who raised a point of information that the election had been conducted and the Senators who were not around at the chambers for the election were ‘on their own’.
Former Gombe State governor, Senator Goje, is at present being prosecuted by the EFCC for alleged corrupt practices while in office.