Saraki: When Leadership Overcomes Challenges
By Danjuma S. Magaji
Abubakar Bukola Saraki is the President of the Nigeria Senate, the upper chamber of the legislative arm of the Federal Government, and the Chairman of the Assembly (both the Red and the Green Chambers). The journey has not been easy for him but he has shown a lot of good qualities of an effective leader in the presence of adversity. The success recorded so far under Saraki’s watch in the Assembly is due to his effective leadership qualities.
The first challenge the former Governor of Kwara State faced was when he tried to vie for the vacant position of the President of the Senate against the preferred candidate of a section of the party leadership.
There was a lot of ignorance displayed about presidential democracy by the ruling party and most of the general public. Presidential democracy and parliamentary democracy although are all systems of democratic governments but their modus operandi differs in many areas. All Progressive Congress (APC) leaders failed to recognize the difference between a government institution and the party which many scholars regard as a Non Governmental Organisation (NGO).
Once senators are elected, they become one entity and every individual senator-elect reserves the right to vie for any position. This is what the leadership of the APC failed to understand.
The second challenge on the Saraki leadership was his case at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
Based on procedure, an asset declaration form is issued to a public office holder at the point of assumption of office and expiration of tenure. One expects the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) to investigate what such office holder had declared within a stipulated time. In fact, as a civil organization, it is supposed to draw your attention when they notice inappropriate action. It is not an act of morality for the organization to just be interested in going to court without drawing the person’s attention. Unless they believe that human beings are infallible and they cannot make mistakes.
If Saraki made mistakes in filing his assets declaration forms, the CCB failed to act in time to draw his attention before going to the court. Saraki’s third major challenge since he assumed office as Senate President is the case of the acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu. The Senate is erroneously being accused out of either ignorance or sheer mischief. The Senate did not confirm Magu on the strength of the report from the Directorate of State Security (DSS).
The DSS is an outfit established by the constitution and its services are not meant for one individual or one arm of government but to the nation. All organs of government can reach this outfit for their service without having to go through a third party.
When a president sends the name of a nominee to the Senate for confirmation, the Senate has the right to investigate the personal record of such a nominee outside what the Presidency might have included in the curriculum vitae (CV) of the person. It is moral and constitutional for the Senate to further inquire about the personal records of Magu from other appropriate institutions and one of the right quarters is the DSS.
Apart from nominees for appointments even those that are interested in contesting any elections from the local government to the Presidency must have gone through and passed the DSS screening. The senate as an independent organ of the government under the leadership of Saraki is not out to unjustly confront the executive arm of the government, but rather wants to work in harmony for the development and progress of the country.
In spite of the aforementioned challenges, Saraki has, through deployment of leadership skills, succeeded in overcoming the obstacles. The Senate President’s extraordinary ability to inspire others had helped in stabilizing the once polarized Senate. As effective crises or conflict manager, he has the ability to understand the needs of others and the ability to behave wisely in respect of others. Saraki has mastered the elements of the art of persuasion including understanding people, the effective use of words and the ability to manage conflicts.
To resolve the conflict that arose in the Senate, the Senate President made far reaching considerations to achieve what he has so far achieved. He handled the issues calmly as he never confronted, accused, or insulted any person but considered that the conflict was over issues and actions not personalities. The Senate President avoided personal attacks.
Having secured peace and unity in the Senate and the whole National Assembly he is set to lead by example, communicating his vision, keeping up morale and maintaining a positive attitude.
Furthermore, he is set to provide value based leadership, team-oriented, participatory and humane leadership that will make each Senator and other Nigerians happy.
Danjuma S. Magaji
Sanga Local Government, Kaduna State
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