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Saraki’s Albatross: The Need to Sheath Animosity

When the 2015 general elections were approaching, the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) preached and campaigned transformation and transition from the status quo that the former ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) used in administering the affairs of the nation for nearly two decades.

The APC clamoured for substitution of the then state of affairs. They adduced reasons why it was good for Nigeria to make the 2015 election and its aftermath different in some particular ways, without permanently losing former characteristics or essence of nationhood to replace what they described as slow pace of development which is change.

Since the commencement of the 8th Senate however on June 9, 2015, the nation’s apex legislative body has not known respite to settle down for it primary function of making good laws for the growth of the nation. Hardly has it recovered from one crisis than another raise its ugly head.

When Abubakar Bukola Saraki emerged as the Senate President, many that know the erudite politician well congratulated the Senate and the nation that the sermon of “change” preached by the APC was going to indeed head the right direction. They said that Saraki’s antecedence as governor of Kwara State was a good omen to lead the highest law making body in the nation for development.

But soon after he assumed office, maybe arising from emerging against preferred candidate of some party leaders, the ill wind that has been blowing around the Senate since then has blown no one any good in the country.

Nigeria no doubt, is a very religious country and every religion knows that power belongs to God and that he gives it to whom he wishes. The much touted change has come, what needs to be done, is that whoever wishes the nation well needs to embrace it and contribute his or her quota in making the country a better place for its citizens and generations yet unborn.

There were predictions that our country shall become a failed state by 2015 and every citizen of the country that was aware of the prediction concluded that the 2015 poll was the gateway but God was on the side of Nigeria and the doom prophesy seems to have failed or is failing but the persistent ardour of bickering in the ruling party shows that it is not yet uhuru for the prophesy to be wished away.

The Senate is a very important organ of any democracy and emergence of Saraki as Senate President should be seen as an Act of God which need not be challenged. What needs to be done is for all Nigerians, stakeholders and particularly the ruling APC, to have a rethink as to why God allowed Saraki to emerge as Senate President.

The All Progressive Congress (APC) may be basking in the euphoria of victory, but it should also know that Nigeria has become a country where any party that fails to deliver can be voted out. Caution should be taken in that when senate presidents were being elected and impeached at will has gone and also the circumstances that was prevalence then was at variance from what is obtainable today.

The APC should know that Nigerians are eager to have a Senate that will equal the record of the out-gone Senate or even surpass it. And this can only be done by electing a sound technocrat politician that is in-depth in state craft to pilot the apex legislative chamber.

If the truth should be told therefore, experience counts in shaping good legislative business. Also, a person versed in the principles or art of governance, especially one actively engaged in conducting the business of government or shaping its policies.

It goes to say that should be a person who exercises political leadership wisely and without narrow partisanship, a man who is a respected leader in national and international affairs, an experienced politician, especially one who is respected for making good judgments should be the one imbued with such task, this is what God has done in Saraki’s emergence as Senate President.

The hand-writing on the wall against the Senate President either blurs or clears, should be weighed on the scale of equity and justice because like an adage says, he who ignites the fire may not know where the ember will terminate.

While going through the statement issued by the senate president’s spokesperson on why the Senate President did not appear before the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), something struck me. The spokesman said: “We want to emphasise the fact that this is not part of any war against corruption but using state institutions to fight political opponents and seeking to achieve through the back door what some people cannot get through the democratic process.

‘We need to caution here that in a desperate bid to settle political scores and nail imaginary enemies, we should not destroy our democratic institutions and overheat the polity for our selfish reasons. Let us learn from history.” This is the crux of the matter. According to report, charge number ABT/01/15 dated September 11, 2015 was filed before the CCB accusing the Senate President of offences ranging from anticipatory declaration of assets to making false declaration of assets in forms he filed before the CCB while he was governor of Kwara State.

The report further said that the charges which were prepared by M S Hassan, a Deputy Director in the Office of the Attorney-General also said that the Senate President failed to declare some assets he acquired while in office as governor. It also alleges that the Senate President allegedly acquired assets beyond his legitimate earnings, operating foreign accounts while being a public officer as governor and senator. The offences the charges said, violated sections of the fifth schedule of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, as amended.

It also breached Section 2 of the CCB and Tribunal Act and punishable under paragraph 9 of the said fifth schedule of the Constitution, the report further explained.

However, the question is why did all these wait till Saraki became Senate President against the will of some people to bring the charges against him? Where were these charges when Saraki contested twice as governor of Kwara State and even tried to contest for the presidency in 2011? The war against corruption should take its real course but not on vendetta.

Prince Idris Afegbua, amedia consultant based in Kaduna.

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