Nothing prepared Saraki for the onslaught he is passing through currently. Since he became the third most important politician in Nigeria, he has neither rested nor known peace. He is being harangued and harassed, but will he survive the onslaught asks EMMA ALOZIE
Senator Bukola Saraki, former governor of Kwara State never kept anybody in doubt about his huge ambition. From a very prominent political dynasty, he rose to become the governor of Kwara State for eight straight years and he is today the most powerful politician in Kwara State.
When he came to the Senate in 2011, his ambition was focused on being the president of the senate. There were rumours midway that he wanted to unseat the then Senator David Mark as the senate president.
Saraki’s ambition has landed him into this trouble and his efforts to wriggle out of it may either take a long time or even consume him politically. From the onset, his ambition led him into leading the rebellion against the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, a party under which he was a governor for eight years and through which he came to the Senate. Having reckoned that PDP’s victory in the last general election would mean the continuation of the then status quo, where David Mark would continue to be the Senate President, he carefully planned and executed the heist that led to the final implosion of the PDP.
With the victory of the APC in the last general elections, Bukola Saraki knew that he was going to be the senate president; he knew that only God could stop him from achieving that lofty ambition. This explains why even when his party, the APC intervened in choosing Senator Ahmed Lawan ahead of him in a mock election, he ignored party directives.
Having emerged as a senate president, his party kicked, but he stuck to his gun. In a bid to find an amicable solution, the party came up with a formula to share the leadership positions in the senate, and communicated same to Saraki, but he replied saying his hands were tied. “While one is strongly persuaded to toe the party line and act in accordance with the suggested party position, regrettably, clear provisions of our extant rules and standard parliamentary convention have not given one that leeway to act otherwise. Therefore, my hands are tied in the circumstances and I seek your understanding,” he told his party defiantly.
That was when the powers that be declared total war on him. First, the issue of forgery of senate rules was raised and the aggrieved parties headed for the courts. This being unusually a long route to Saraki’s ouster, it was abandoned, and in its stead, the anti-corruption agencies were unleashed on Saraki and his family.
First his wife, Toyin Saraki was invited by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC on allegations of money laundering during her reign as the First Lady of Kwara state. Her case is still ongoing with the EFCC. Then, the same EFCC declared an associate of Saraki, Kennedy Izuagbe, Managing Director of Carlisle Properties and Investment Limited and a former director of the defunct Societe Generale Bank Nigeria Plc wanted over an allegation of a N3.3billion fraud committed only God knows when. Then the Code of Conduct Bureau filed a 13 count charge against Saraki bordering on his asset declaration some 12 years ago.
The noose is fast tightening on the senate president and his ability or ability to wriggle out of this depends on many factors. Saraki’s survival in the face of this onslaught depends on the ferocity with which his traducers pursue his ouster. Buhari is not known to be very considerate when pursuing any vindictive agenda, neither is Tinubu known to shift much grounds when his ego is at stake. Observers say that if Tinubu could bring out his political protégé, former Governor Babatunde Fashola to the public square to be roasted, then seeing the political destruction of Saraki will be a joy to him.
Equally, the voices in the civil society that used to cow President Goodluck Jonathan to submission have all submitted themselves as willing tools in the hands Buhari and this will never help Saraki’s case. Such voices as Professor Wole Soyinka, Professor Itse Sagay, Femi Falana, Professor Pat Utomi and many others who in the recent past used to raise their voices against any perceived tyranny of government, have all gone conspiratorially silent leaving lesser voices to plead the cause of democratic institutions.
This leaves Saraki with little or no option in terms of voices that can call the authorities to order. Saraki’s only viable option remains to groom and mobilize lesser known voices to plead his cause.
Another of Saraki’s drawbacks in this his quest to wriggle out of the stranglehold of those who want him out is that he cannot boast of any strong political base; any political pillow to fall on in times of adversities. In a country where ethnic and tribal sentiments run high, Saraki comes from a region as variegated as Nigeria itself and not homogenous. He is from an amorphous region known as North Central with no tribal centrality unlike say the South East and the South West. When it is politically convenient for Saraki, he claims allegiance to Fulani and at another time, he claims allegiance to the Yoruba. So in times like this, Saraki cannot fall either to Yoruba or to Fulani. Curiously, the two people suspected to be behind his travails are both from the Yoruba and Fulani ethnic stock.
Then compare to when the issue of forgery was raised against Ike Ekweremadu. The cacophony of voices from the Igbo stock that came to his defense could have helped to scare those that wanted the deputy senate president ousted then.
Saraki is a victim of his ambition and with the way those who want him out are bent on going the whole hog, the chances that he would come out of this without political bruises are slim. However, he is well groomed in the politics of retreat and surrender having passed through the political tutelage of his late father, the late Senator Olusola Saraki. Perhaps, this is the time he needs all the political wits and wisdom to save his job, his face and his ambition. But he needs help.