YOU know that saying: ‘Be careful what you wish for, because you might get it?’ Well, current Senate President, Bukola Saraki is experiencing that feeling at the moment.
I say ‘current Senate President’ because the way things are going, the fine chap might not be presiding over the Senate too much longer.
How did things get to this sorry pass? There was (is) a change agenda in the firmament but Saraki got the wrong script. First, he put himself up for the presidency of the Senate against the expressed wish of his current Party, the All Progressives Congress (APC). But that wasn’t his main crime. What the APC found most objectionable was that Saraki used the enemy – the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – to accomplish that feat. He had gone too far.
Additionally, there is real fear in some high quarters of what Saraki and his co-conspirators in the PDP could do if they put their minds to it. Unwittingly, we have been pitched the politics of one-up-manship and blackmail. Only a careless President and a crazy ruling political Party will leave its future and fortunes to chance giving the situation in the Senate. So the APC has been obsessively doing one thing after the other to protect its flank.
Act one, scene one, was to drag Saraki’s wife to the Economic & Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in July to answer some nebulous charge of fraud and corruption. That case is still pending. Scene two. The government began formal investigations of various Saraki’s businesses. This, similarly, is ongoing. Then one Kennedy Izuagbe, a former director of Societe Generale Bank and the Managing Director of Carlisle Properties and Investment Limited, a Saraki company, was declared wanted by the EFCC.
The latest scene is unfolding now at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT). The APC has only gone and exhumed a presumably tainted thirteen year old Asset Declaration Form and hung it inelegantly around Saraki’s neck. Of all the ex-governors in Nigeria and more than a decade after the fact, it’s only been discovered that Saraki may have falsely declared his assets. We have seen this script before: In October 2011, right in the middle of his transformation into a proper Asiwaju, the PDP and Jonathan dragged Tinubu to the same CCT, placed and displayed him in a newly built, finely polished witness cage. It was a clumsy attempt to stop Tinubu from becoming the bona fide godfather of Southwest politics. It didn’t work then.
Now? Who knows. Unfortunately for Saraki, and contrary to most legal expectations, the Court of Appeal dealt him a quasi fatal blow. It unceremoniously told Saraki to go and tango with the CCT. It is one dance too many. Saraki is being systematically overwhelmed by his own Party.
Act two would follow shortly enough. You can bet your lunch money that there would be something else. We all know the routine: if any government decides to go after you, they’ll find something. It could be that time when you snuck your girlfriend into the back of the Science block for some dry and inconclusive kiss. Anything!
So you can see where things are headed for brother Saraki. It goes without saying that no one wants a Senate President who is entangled in a criminal trial – even his colleagues at the Senate would draw the line at that. Impeachment could be a real possibility if this hot potato is not handled with delicate care. Resignation is another dreadful possibility. All the options available to Saraki appear to be ugly ones. All that energy and guile of sleeping and hiding out in his car at the National Assembly parking lot are bringing him a different set of results today.
As these things go, Saraki’s pool of friends and supporters is drying out fast. Monies, in Dollars, no less, are being alleged to have come from APC strongmen to induce Senators to abandon him. This flies directly in the face of President Buhari’s anti-corruption agenda. But ‘change’ is at stake here and Saraki is apparently not a part of it. The worse bit is that Saraki is in danger of seeing his 2019 presidential dream crumble even before the referee blows the whistle. This is the nature of Nigerian reptilian politics.
But Saraki is a fighter, a survivor. He wouldn’t have got to where he is today if he wasn’t. He cut his teeth in ultra-conservative Nigerian politics eons ago. Surely he would push back against the daunting forces arrayed against him? A tragic-comedy of ambition and raw power unfolds. Get your popcorn…
Dr. Michael Egbejumi-David, a medical practioneer wrote from London.