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Beyond The Saraki Trial

Any direction the political pendulum swings in the Saraki political travails, the Buhari administration should be careful not to unduly influence state institutions for personal gains and vendetta.


The picture of the senate president, Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki, in the dock beamed around the globe would conjure a lot of images about the democratic norms of the country. While some may explain it as the rule of law on display, others less charitable, may perceive it as the anti-corruption crusade of the Buhari administration gone astray. Neither perception may be far from a near truth. But the greater implication of this sordid political drama is that in Nigeria, anybody riding on the back of the political tiger should be prepared for the ugly specter of ending in the stomach of the beastly cat. The PDP and APC, as usual, shall continue to trade blame as who should be held responsible for the tragedy befalling the fate of number three citizen of the nation. I am constrained to look at the issue beyond the position of the senate leader and how the democratic norm of the great nation beggared with indifferent, uncaring and drifting leadership shall be affected on the long run. The truth of the matter is that what is happening to the senate president is the fallout of the scramble for the control of the soul of the APC, the unfortunate concoction of various political parties and interest groups.

In one of my previous journalistic outings, I struggled under the professional and intellectual burden that if a political party was formed principally to ease out President Goodluck Jonathan, the contradictions and implosions of such an amalgam shall come to the fore when the common foe is out of the way. That is exactly what is happening to the APC and the so called `change` mantra. Now that the common enemy is out of the way, the various strange bedfellows in the APC are coming to the tragic realization of their incompatibility. Today it is the fate of Saraki, tomorrow it could be the agonies of one of the many national leaders of the party. Let nobody get me wrong. I am not explaining away the alleged false assets declarations of the Saraki as the and the operation of foreign accounts as governor. The issue that should attract our attention is that if Saraki were not the senate president and the unpreferred anointed choice of the APC, would the Code of Conduct Bureau wake up to the latter bravery of telling us about the transgressions of Saraki? The answer is obvious.

The senate president is being hunted for spiting the leadership of the APC and to be fair too, Saraki stretched too far his political luck and reliance on survival instinct. Having won the senate presidency and mistakenly conceded the senate deputy president to the PDP, he should have embarked on reconciliation. Rather, in the literary phraseology of the African Bard, Chinua Achebe, he became an ambitious man that challenged his `chi` or personal god to a wrestling contest. And the result is the legal mud and hole he found himself and in a bid to extricate himself, he is further falling deeper into the hole. Whether he wins the legal contest or not, he is mortally wounded as the senate president and his position shall continue to be questioned. The better option left for the embattled senate president is to throw in the towel and defend his name and integrity. This is the path of honour but I begin to suspect that the lure of office and his political ambition may prevent him from taking that dignified and noble step.

Whatever may be the defence of the presidency and the APC about having no hand in the travails of the senate president, the reality dawning on the vast majority of discerning Nigerians is that what is happening is high tech political maneuverings and that the uninitiated may be hoodwinked to swallow the political dummy of the government and the ruling APC. Let the war of corruption continue and the slumbering EFCC, ICPC and the Code of Conduct Bureau wake up and put things alright. Let the body language of President Muhammadu Buhari point the way forward out the mess. The political supporters of Saraki shall evaporate the way butter disappears under the furnace of heat. The noose is being tied round the neck of the senate president and things look pretty difficult. If you stretch your imagination further, that not too long ago, his spouse was invited by the EFCC for some financial transgressions and same to one of the managers of Saraki`s business concerns; the picture is now very clear that it is a well calculated and orchestrated move to get the poor man out of the way.

Any direction the political pendulum swings in the Saraki political travails, the Buhari administration should be careful not to unduly influence state institutions for personal gains and vendetta. The anti-corruption bodies should be insulated from dirty partisan politics and should be made to perform their functions transparently and with some modicum of independence. Somebody somewhere is pulling the strings in the comic-tragedy of the Saraki political storm. It was rather too naive on the part of Saraki and his political associates to delude themselves that those whose image and integrity were rubbished in the senate leadership struggle will simply dust themselves and go home that nothing happened. The onus is on APC to handle this matter with tact so that it does not affect the fortunes of the party and the overall governance of the nation. If the senate, an important arm of government is crises prone, the administration of the nation may not be smooth sailing. Let nobody or even the best practiced political strategists of the APC hue delude themselves that the supporters of Saraki may not fight back. If this crisis in the senate continues, the fate and destiny of the nation shall be called to question. On both sides of the political divide is that politicians must respect the vehicle that brought them to power and that vaulting ambition should not make them to destroy the ladder that brought them to political fame. This is one lesson the senate president must take to heart.

It is not too late for the senate president, President Buhari and the APC to mend fences for the good of the nation. This is time for horse trading and that politics of brinkmanship shall not advance the progress and development of the nation. If some of them in the APC still have their souls in PDP, they should be man enough to say so and act so. The anti-corruption crusade by any stretch of imagination should not be used to hunt perceived foes or those who stepped out of party lines. And for Saraki and others who want to dishonour the directives of APC, then they should put their acts together and be ready to confront the consequences of their actions. Either way, the rumblings in the senate do not portend good for the peace and progress of the nation. The onus is on Buhari as the father of the nation to apply the brakes and save the looming implosion of his party.

•Oweh wrote in from Asaba, Delta State.

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