The embattled Senate President, Senator Saraki has been able to get about 84 of his colleagues to pass a landmark vote of confidence on him. This comes as a reprieve given his many troubles in the hands of his own party men. Saraki’s ordeal has divided the ruling APC more than any other factor since the creation of the party and many analysts are of the view that the way the party is handling the issue amounts to throwing the baby with the bathwater writes EMMA ALOZIE
The ruling All Progressives Congress, APC has never hidden its disdain to the emergence of Senator Bukola Saraki as the Senate President. Since the inauguration of the 8th Senate on June 9, 2015, the legislative arm of government has never known peace. The disagreement came to a crescendo with the recent formal arraignment of the Senate President by the Code of Conduct Tribunal. A lot of interpretations have been given to the troubles of Saraki; some say the law must take its full course while others call it “plain witch-hunt” and Saraki has also come out to say that had not been Senate President, the whole troubles would not have befallen him.
“I wish to reiterate my remarks before the Tribunal, that I have no iota of doubt that I am on trial today because I am the president of the Nigerian Senate, against the wishes of some powerful individuals outside this Chambers. But what is clear to me also, is that the laws of Nigeria, and the rules of the National Assembly give consideration only to the wishes and desires of those of you who are here today as members of the Senate, to elect as you wish, one of your peers as President of the Senate. This, in your wisdom, is what you have done by electing me to be the first among all of you who are my equals”, he stressed.
Contrary to expectations and what used to be the norm, Senator Saraki’s party, the APC seems to have abandoned him with leaders of the party either urging on the Code of Conduct Bureau or keeping what analysts describe as conspiratorial silence.
For instance Bola Tinubu, former governor of Lagos state and the man widely believed to be behind the travails of Saraki came out recently in veiled reference to Saraki’ ordeal to say that there must be consequences for corruption. According to him, “It is part of nation’s development. We cannot overlook a lot of things. And we cannot personalise a lot of things as if it was vendetta. We have to endure and be patient as we look for justice, equity and a balanced society. If we do not straighten these institutions, how can they work for the development of the nation? If we fail and result to blackmail, how can the nation reverse the decadence that is perceived in our society?”
Similarly, in session with journalists recently the National Chairman of APC, Chief John odigie-Oyegun said that the party would not intervene in the trial saying, “We won’t since the case is in court”.
The party seems to have decided to throw away the baby with the bathwater in order to satisfy and assuage some certain powerful interests in the party.
But will the party come out of it stronger?
Opinions are sharply divided on this. There are those who strongly believe that Saraki’s travails should not be personalized as the APC is right in starting the cleansing from its own fold. To those in this school of thought, if the party has decided to allow the rule of law to run its full course against its third most important member, then it would only make others to sit up and understand that it is not going to be business as usual. Put simply, no more sacred cows in the renewed resolve of the APC government to rid Nigeria of corruption.
However, there are those who argue that with what Saraki is going through in the hands of a government he worked diligently to enthrone and with the party abandoning him, the ultimate loser at the end of the fight would be the party. The proponents of this line of argument are of the view that whichever the pendulum of victory swings in this ‘fight’, the party is the ultimate loser.
As it is today, the party is said to be dangerously polarized along pro-party and pro-Saraki loyalists. With the recent overwhelming confidence vote given to Saraki by his colleagues at the Senate where even about 35 senators from APC were involved, it is now very obvious that the position of the party on this issue is more precarious.
What are the options left for the party? With the way things are looking, whichever camp that wins, there must injuries. It will certainly be a pyrrhic victory. It is a victory where even if it heals, the political scars would be indelible.
If Saraki is eventually unseated, though some leaders of the party would beat their chests in celebration of victory, but the bad blood his removal would engender in the party would almost take a lifetime to heal. For instance, the nPDP, which sees itself as a very important arm of the party and from where Saraki draws the bulk of his strength, would feel humiliated given its enormous contributions to APC’s victory at the last polls.
There are speculations that heavy weights like Abubakar Atiku, the former vice president and many former governors especially from the North who came from the opposition PDP are backing Saraki with their gaze all focused on 2019 and this more than anything is most likely going to prolong the this political war of attrition.
On the other hand, in the event of Saraki’s victory, some very powerful forces within the party would feel irredeemably humiliated. These powerful forces suspected to be baying for Saraki’s blood are leaving no stone unturned in making sure that the embattled Senate President does not sleep with his two eyes closed. If Saraki comes out of these troubles still retaining his seat and with about 35 APC senators singing his praises, the leadership of the party may be another battle ground for show of supremacy.
Also, if the APC powerful forces fail in their bid to unseat him, they may blame it on the president saying he failed once again to wield the big stick to tame Saraki. When the president failed to stop Saraki from being the Senate President, these forces blamed the president and almost turned the media heat on him. Therefore, in this all out war where the body language of the president seems to be in favour of anti-Saraki forces, any other outcome short of victory will be misinterpreted.
This perhaps explains while the party may never come out of this fight with the same cohesion it enjoyed prior to the last general elections. And with very ambitious politicians already focused on 2019, APC as a party by allowing Saraki to be going through these troubles may be throwing away the baby with the bathwater ahead of 2019; the argument of fighting corruption from within notwithstanding.
The options before the party are really scanty. The verdict is, the party will take the fall or the hit at the fullness of time.