Editors’ note: The writer, Buchi Obichie, takes Prof Itse Sagay to task for insisting that Senate President Bukola Saraki vacates his seat as a matter of honour, while stating that Kemi Adeosun should remain in her position, despite having serious issues with her NYSC certificate. She points out that the morality card should be dealt to both parties, equally!
“What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.” That’s a quote I first learned when I was a little girl. In lay man’s terms, it means that the same rules and laws that apply to one person, also apply to another.
The quote reminds us of the importance of fair-play…and the deadly nature of hypocrisy. And in recent times, I have begun to wonder if Prof Itse Sagay understands its meaning.
The legal luminary has in recent times, made some troubling statements regarding the minister of finance, Kemi Adeosun, who has been embroiled in an NYSC certificate brouhaha; and Senate President Bukola Saraki, who has been bombarded with calls from the APC to vacate his seat, following his defection to the PDP.
Concerning Saraki, Sagay insisted that the Senate president should step down as a matter of honour; essentially making it - in my opinion - an issue of morality.
He stated: “He should relinquish his position as a matter of honour. He’s not compelled by law to do so. He needs to be removed by two-thirds majority.
"He got there because he was in APC, even though he got there by subterfuge, which is typical of him. He got there in a cheeky, fraudulent manner. Nevertheless, for him to be removed, they need two-thirds, not of the Senate, but of those present and voting at a meeting.
“It doesn’t have to be everybody. It’s those who happen to be there. Once they meet the quorum of one-third, and he is there, he can be removed by two-thirds of that one-third.”
On the other hand, however, when speaking on the Adeosun situation, he stated: “Let me tell you my reaction. This woman is a brilliant and extremely valuable member of this government.
"There is nothing in this world that will make me remove such a woman from the government. The PDP can weep from now until there is no tear in their body; she is going to be there. We cannot afford to lose that woman.”
He continued: “Who cares about youth service? I don’t bloody care whether she did youth service or not. It’s irrelevant as far as I am concerned.”
So, while it was perfectly okay for Sagay to pull out the moral card with Saraki, the same law no longer applied to Adeosun because she is a ‘valuable member of the government?’ And by that, he really means that Adeosun is a valuable member of the APC-led federal govt, the party Saraki just exited!
Hypocrisy at its peak!
If Sagay insists that Adeosun will remain in her position even if the ‘PDP weeps till there is no tear in their body’, why can’t Saraki also remain in his position, even if the APC keeps crying to the high heavens?
Already, several individuals have pointed out that going by the Constitution, Saraki cannot be compelled to step down from that position simply because he switched camps. It is clear that any senator can be elected as Senate president, as long as he garners enough votes from his colleagues…which Saraki did.
So, this is not even a matter of legality right now. But if it was, i dare say that Saraki is not the criminal here!
The NYSC rules clearly dictate that any Nigerian who graduates from university before the age of 30, must undergo the mandatory service year. You cannot receive a certificate of exemption if you graduate before the age of 30…not to talk of graduating at 22 (like Adeosun)!
So, going by the Constitution and the NYSC rules, Saraki is clearly not the one who has broken a law here!
However, since Sagay has made this a question of doing what is morally right, then he should apply that same rule across board. If he insists that Saraki should step down as a matter of honour, then Adeosun should do the same.
Now, don’t get it twisted; this is not a matter of me taking sides with any individual against the other. It is just a matter of standing for justice and fair-play.
Even if Saraki is taken out of the equation, what does it say about Sagay as a supposed upholder of the rule of law, if he can exonerate Adeosun from an illegality, while other Nigerians can’t find such respite? Will other Nigerians be so lucky to hold on to their jobs if they have been caught red-handed, breaking an established law?
Please, people should not make statements that make a mockery of their age, education and standing in society. Sagay has risen too high to be caught uttering such obvious absurdities.
By legal standards, it doesn't seem like Saraki is committing any offense by remaining in his position. However, the question of standing down will be sorted out by the votes of his fellow senators, not anyone else.
But since, we all like to form ‘holier than thou’ and throw stones when we ourselves live in glass houses, then we should demand that everyone adheres to the same moral standard.
If Saraki should step down as a matter of honour (and by extension, morality), then Adeosun should do same. What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander!
This opinion piece was written by Buchi Obichie.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the editorial policy of Legit.ng.
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