With the Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar-led National Peace Committee declaring Senate President Bukola Saraki’s and Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu’s elections “unacceptable”, the bitter row sparked by the exercise may take some time to go away.
The committee faulted the process that led to the election of the key principal officers of the Senate in a statement signed by the Convener, Bishop Hassan Mathew Kukah.
The National Peace Committee 2015 played a pivotal role in ensuring peaceful elections. The group facilitated a peace pact between former President Goodluck Jonathan and his then challenger President Muhammadu Buhari to douse the tension in the land ahead of the crucial general elections.
The group also spearheaded the post-election peace management.
Apart from Gen. Abubakar, a former Head of State, and Rev. Kukah, who is the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, other members of the group are: Former Chief of General Staff (CGS) Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe, former Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) President Mrs Priscilla Kuye, Abuja ArchDiocese Catholic Bishop John Cardinal Onaiyekan, Primate of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) Nicholas Okoh and Africa’s richest Man Aliko Dangote.
Saraki was elected by less than 60 of the 109 senators on June 9, with minority Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members behind him.
The Deputy Senate President is a member of the PDP.
Yesterday, the committee said it was important for the highest legislative body to uphold moral authority and value.
It said: “We must have all arms on deck so that we can quickly rout Boko Haram, restore law and order and proceed with the much-desired change of cleansing the Augean stable and delivering quality services to the Nigerian people.
“The story of the process leading to the elections of the principal officers in that august body last week is well-known to all Nigerians. Given the maturity, track record and experience of the body, we wonder why a routine process has turned into an ugly, selfish dogfight.
“This is unacceptable to Nigerians. It neither dignified the Senate nor does it honour what Nigerians voted for.”
“Even the most optimistic of us did not imagine that we would be where we are today in our country. Up till the last elections, the atmosphere after every election since 1999 has been poisoned by endless quarrels among political elite, long drawn out appeals at Tribunals and occasional violence leading to loss of lives. Happily, this has not been the case since the last elections.
“It is not the way to thank God for what he has done to those who were lucky to be elected to that high office, nor does it honour what He has done to our country.”
However, the Committee lauded members of the House of Representatives who successfully concluded their process, ready to begin their legislative duties.
Describing the crisis between the All Progressives Congress (APC) leadership and the Senate as a “family quarrel”, Kukah said the disagreement should not become a public show.
“The challenge now is for the APC to justify the confidence that Nigerians placed on them when they bought into their mantra of Change. We expect this change to be marked by personal and institutional acts of patriotism, altruism, discipline, decorum, maturity, sacrifice and decency,” he added.
The committee also sought support for the Federal Government in the battle against the Boko Haram.