Asset Declaration: Assessing The Saraki Conundrum


To the babel of voices crying blue murder over the bench warrant issued last week Friday – and renewed two days ago – for the arrest of Senate President Bukola Saraki by the Justice Danladi Umar-led Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), I can best respond with one of the choicest wisecracks of former President Olusegun Obasanjo: I just dey laf!

Imagine PDP aficionados claiming that it is a sign that the nation was sliding into totalitarianism. They should please spare us their crocodile tears. Was it not under past PDP administrations that all kinds of dictatorial actions were taken to impeach governors, hound targeted opponents and stage-manage the emergence of as many as five senate presidents in a short spell of eight years?

There have also been loud rumblings in certain quarters that Saraki is facing political persecution for defying his party’s directives on the zoning of the leadership positions in the national assembly. And I say, so what? If you play with cats, you must expect to be scratched! Whenever I raise the peculiar case of former Delta State Governor James Ibori, who was hounded into exile by then Acting President Goodluck Jonathan despite being acquitted of all 16 charges by an Asaba Federal High Court, many correspondents accuse me of betraying my populist traditions.

My assertion that Ibori’s case was politically motivated because he wanted at all costs to prevent Jonathan from cornering the same presidential marble he was eyeing was derisively dismissed. But the clock has now turned full circle and the chickens have come home to roost as the same people are now seeing political vendetta at every twist and turn of the Saraki saga! Can anyone now imagine the horrendous din that would have been generated if a court acquitted Saraki and the federal government still continued to ‘harass’ him? Oh my God!

The man in the eye of the storm accuses the CCT of “being used to fight political opponents to achieve through the backdoor what some people cannot get through (the) democratic process.” He further warned that his unnamed political opponents “should not destroy our political institutions and heat up the polity for selfish reasons.” Hahaha, a clear case of the pot calling the kettle black!

Does Saraki really want us to believe that a man who confessed to waiting around at the back of a car in a dark and lonely park like a Mafiosi hit-man, only to sneak into the senate chamber where his co-coup plotters crowned him king in the contrived absence of his own party members, achieved the ‘feat’ selflessly through an ‘open’ door and a ‘democratic’ process? Isn’t he aware that since he selfishly gatecrashed his way into the post, against the wishes of his party’s leadership, the temperature of the polity has been at boiling point and the working relationship between the senate and the presidency has suffered a serious damage?

I learnt long ago in one of my management classes that whenever an individual finds himself in a hole the first thing he must do is to stop digging. But not Saraki. The senate president, who probably sees himself as a more capable backroom fixer than the legendary Tony Anenih, refused to toe a conciliatory path with his party leaders unlike House Speaker Yakubu Dogara. Earlier on, he became enmeshed in a case of alleged forgery of the 2015 Senate Standing Order that was used to conjure up himself and his deputy. When his wife was invited by the EFCC for questioning over an incidence that was alleged to have occurred during his tenure as state governor, the senate ad hoc committee on ethics and privileges entertained a petition from an ex-convict through the backdoor that sought to rubbish the integrity and reputation of the EFCC chairman!

Only last Monday, a huge delegation of the Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union travelled from Ilorin to Abuja to – wait for it – confer a local traditional title on him! Since this is an assignment that could have been more appropriately transacted in Ilorin, the essence was to procure maximum media coverage of the installation and create an illusion of mass support for the beleaguered senate president! But the case is one that will be tried in a superior court of competent jurisdiction, not in a stall at the Ilorin market square. Besides, PMB certainly isn’t the kind of president to be intimidated when corruption fights back in the form of melodramatic sideshows put up by surrogates and rented crowds.

Saraki was arguably undone by the legalistic sophistry of his lawyers. They most probably misled the senate president into thinking that he was above the law. First, they counselled him not to appear at the CCT because the tribunal has no jurisdiction. When that failed, they espoused the issue of lack of quorum on the part of the CCT judges. When that also failed, they argued that the law requires that the discrepancies should have first been drawn to Saraki’s attention by the CCB prior to taking the case to the CCT.

Saraki claims to be a card-carrying member of the APC but his actions dictate otherwise. Confronted with a landmark case like the one he faces at the CCT, he sought solace in the chambers of an attorney who just happens to be a card-carrying member of the opposition PDP and key member of the party’s Presidential Campaign Organisation! At the risk of sounding pedantic, let me reiterate that Saraki is simply a PDP mole the opposition party intends to spring as its electoral joker in 2019! The APC must timeously surgically resolve the Saraki conundrum to rid itself of a deadly malady. “A just fear of an imminent danger,” said English philosopher Francis Bacon, “though there be no blow given, is a lawful cause for war.”

Now this: Saraki has gotten off his high horse, eaten humble pie and finally appeared before the same tribunal he openly accused of being biased against him. Like Caesar’s wife, the occupant of the high office of senate president ought to remain above suspicion. Saraki has lost the moral authority to continue to serve as the public face of the national assembly and should honorably resign without further ado.

But I fear that Saraki’s unwillingness to carry his cross alone is likely to cause considerable collateral damage among his senate surrogates who would be compelled by a misguided sense of camaraderie to needlessly put themselves in the line of fire of a quarrel that is strictly not theirs.

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