The moral pattern of Nigerian politics continues to degenerate with the crop of politicians elected into leadership positions. In the past, our representatives were primarily chosen based on their governance skills, civil commitment, moral principles, and human values.
Broken election promises, ill-advised lawmaking, corruption, and political falsehood that would attract degradation and rejection in a civilized democracy are flagrantly dismissed as “witch-hunting” by people of unexamined, primitive partisanship. Political leaders found guilty of political wrongdoing and leadership incompetence, and lawbreakers that should be impeached and excluded are the lawmakers. Any attempt to make these abhorrent political leaders accountable and be punished for their improprieties is viewed as “malicious,” “politically motivated,” “undue interference,” and “selective.”
It is the norm for our political leaders to trick, manipulate, and marginalize the ethical principles of right and wrong all of which are made to serve their greed, lust for power, and to serve their political party, their regime, or clan.
Our political leaders and their rabid supporters see political morality as a matter of personal opinion rather than ethical problem and human conscience. Realpolitik – politics based on material factors and interest considerations – rather than on ethical objectives and human ideals, is what drives our politics. In today’s Nigeria politics of politicking, assassination of political rivals, torture and revenge on innocent citizens, election rigging, political forgery, corruption, embezzlement, and other political aberrations are the order of the day.
Combating poverty, providing healthcare, jobs, quality education, safety and security to the poor are not of importance to the political leaders. Because in realpolitik, the rich and the privileged have their own priorities and different sociopolitical agendas. Of course, given the large empire of corruption that Nigeria has become, it is impossible to name clean-living political leaders. Majority of the members of the National Assembly, state legislators, governors, and local government councilors are either criminals or ex-convicts. They are wicked, insensitive, and insidious to honor human values. They are not morally equipped to take Nigeria to a better place.
Having forged the Senate Standing Rules that got him elected Senate President, Bukola Saraki is fighting with his last breadth for his political life. The latest hit from the Saraki Corruption Dynasty in what’s been a slow-motion crash for an unusually irresponsible and damaged Senate President, is the 13-count charge by the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) against Saraki for alleged failure to fully declare his assets. The indictment reads in cinematic detail that portrays Saraki as a polished name for political immorality. The CCB 13-count charge include among other crimes, improperly using state funds to purchase private assets during his tenure as the governor of Kwara State while he was senator of the federal republic of Nigeria. He was also accused of declaring as part of his assets a property that had not been sold to him, a practice known as “anticipatory looting” in Nigeria.
Saraki assumed the Senate Presidency a diminished political leader. His bids to reunite with President Buhari and the APC leadership met with stern rebuff, and senate colleagues co-exist with him uneasily. Embarrassments have become routine whenever he’s tried to forcibly reinsert himself into the national debate. The ethical and corrupt charges preferred against the Kwara State Senator by the CCB, show how deep Nigeria has declined in political morality. We’re all familiar with Saraki’s dossier of political sins it need not be rehashed. But the aspect of his transgressions that is fascinating as well as disturbing is the manipulation of right and wrong. Because of our ethnic biases, prejudices, and discrimination, we refuse to differentiate or agree on what is politically wrong or right. Even when we know that something is wrong, we still take the insanity road to argue otherwise.
What is our basis of judging what is right or wrong on the sociopolitical level? How do we as Nigerians assess and by which norms wrongfulness is adjudged? What qualifies for political immorality and violation of political ethical codes? Where do we draw the line between good and evil? Consider the following: Did Saraki forge his way to become Senate President? Was he falsely accused of declaring false assets? Did he trespass against the law that prohibits elected officials from having foreign bank accounts? Did he and his wife Toyin plunder and collapse Societe Generale Bank? Did he misappropriate Kwara State funds during his eight-year tenure as governor? Did he conceal his stolen wealth in his asset declaration forms by passing off some assets to his wife and two children, Semi Saraki and Teniola Saraki?
Did he fail to explain how he got his wealth on the asset declaration forms? Has he any foreign bank accounts under his name or those of his companies with at least 2.9 million pounds sterling and $400,000 in 2003? Did he declare at least eight of his registered properties in Nigeria calculated in 2003 to be worth more than N2.2 trillion? Was Saraki also the registered owner of eight properties in London England worth $12.6 million which he purchased sometimes in 2003? Why is Saraki afraid to defend himself in the court? Shouldn’t he have seized the golden opportunity as the chief lawmaker of Nigeria to set example that no one is above the law by appearing in court instead of seeking court order to squash the case? Bring Saraki before the law and let him defend himself. Until these and other criminal and ethical citations are resolved, he’s not fit to lead the Senate.
Aristotle once said that the happiest life for a human being is the life of moral virtue. The life of courage, temperance, justice, and the other virtues of character is better for the person living life than a life that lacks those virtues. And Plato’s Republic centers on a simple question: is it always better to be just than unjust? A political leader like the Senate President must project proper political morality. Certain personal qualities are essential to political leadership hence the relationship between ethics and politics.
The case of Saraki deals with discipline of political ethics: values and the good, right and wrong, obligations and rights, justice and ideal social and political arrangements. Saraki could be depicted as comic-book villain. Through financial frauds, Saraki throughout his life has enjoyed a gilded life. For long, the beneficiaries of the Saraki Corruption Dynasty lend their voices to the chorus of praise for Saraki. Over the years, Nigerian tabloids have generously devoted news columns exposing the Saraki Corruption Empire. With all his frauds and fleece, Saraki remains untouchable. Now, the chickens have come home to roost. As the Senate President, his honesty, trustworthiness, and favorability continue to erode each day. He’s now increasingly underwater and he’s sinking by the day under his own weight.
A moral collapse is eating away the foundations of our society like cancer. Nigeria immorality in government is at a peak. Immorality in government lies at the heart of our nation’s problems. We see the evidence of moral collapse all around us every day. If it continues unchecked, it will inevitably destroy Nigeria. Unfortunately, fixing moral decay is far more difficult than switching out political parties because it is in the hearts of millions of Nigerians.
So, where is the mourning for the fact that we, as a nation, have come to this: a choice between murderers, a choice between plunderers, a choice between looters, a choice between thieves, a choice between forgers, a choice between lawbreakers, a choice between cowards, a choice between fools, a choice between idiots, and a choice between an embattled, bruised, battered scammer Senate President.
As long as unsound political leaders like Saraki are in charge of our affairs, they will supplant Nigerians’ peaceful life, prosperity, civil norms, and ethics.
It’s time for Saraki to go!