Saraki: Is the honeymoon over? By Fola Ojo

Fola Ojo

The game of politics the world over can be both therapeutic and insalubrious. Its messy and murky waters are full of countless connoisseurs. Don’t dive in if you are not ready and steady. Don’t trust it because a thousand-pound gator may jump out of the waters to jag your jugular. Politics can be destabilising to a life, family and business. The hold on a throne is not promised to last the span you hope for. There are thousands of friends and foes around you who want exactly what you have even if it is yours by right. In politics, you possess nothing by right; you only possess what you fight to keep. The fight is often dirty.

Many don’t have the guts for Nigeria’s kind of politics. In this game, you are always few inches from trouble that must definitely come. Nigerians love to kick, scratch and scream only from the sidelines. On the spectators’ stand they discuss, dissect and analyse as they carefully cut up its guts and sew it back up while trying not to do further damage to its already damaged integrity. Nigerian politics is a tragicomedy. You laugh and your ribs ache. Your tear glands also frequently bust at their seams. That’s the comedy part of it. It is fearsome messing with; very smoggy and brumious beholding. Before our eyes, lives have been smothered in the hands of ignoramuses and power-players who only think about the hear-and-now and narrow-minded aggrandisement. The destinies of millions of lives have been historically crushed on the altar of politics. That’s the tragedy part of it.

I am not so much interested in the culpability of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, in the allegations of corruption heave-hoed at him. Time, fairness and justice will settle that. I am watching keenly, however, the present All Progressives Congress in-house power play involving the taciturn President Muhammadu Buhari who now knows he cannot work with everybody. He told us he has nothing to do with Saraki’s unfolding troubles. Really? Mr. President, with all humility, you know! And you know we know you know. It’s okay that you know we know. It’s politics; and the people you are playing the game with have taught you some practical lessons between May 29 and now. Saraki was one of the President’s teachers. He gave him a tuition-free lesson. Now the President seems better than the hand that taught him. Buhari spent many years running for President. They are not wasted years. He was only a student in the Prelim Programme of the College of Nigerian Politics. The real game has just begun.

Politicians are a peculiar breed sucking from the same breasts of cold-heartedness, crookery and cozenage. Saraki was not his party’s choice for the Senate Presidency; he was the unanimous candidate of his Peoples Democratic Party folk. He was believed to have doctored and schemed past his party and the President to grab the gavel. The President who was expecting people to mean what they say got a shocker. Alas, Saraki is the Senate President. The President got angry! If you are a transgressor and then get a man of few words like Buhari angry, you can’t duck getting docked even if you are a doctor. That’s the subliminal reason Saraki is now in trouble. Why does Saraki want power? The same reason everybody in this world has a desire. Saraki’s desire was just too ambitious and unsettling for many in the APC.

For every bad story against the APC today to sound good, you have to swirl it around Bola Ahmed Tinubu. It excites and emboldens his enemies and those who seek relevance. Tinubu must be the source of your troubles for you to get the necessary attention. Immediately after the elections, somebody somewhere spoke into the ears of the President to be afraid of Tinubu. They call the Jagaban a control-freak who want to pocket everyone with deep pocket. The Saraki camp named Tinubu too during its Senate power play ordeal. Tinubu was the arrowhead of the fluffy conglomerate APC. In July 2013, about five political sects decided to fuse with a determination to oust the PDP which ruled Nigeria for 16 years. The determination and zeal to dethrone Goodluck Jonathan were strong. With the help of about 15 million voters, they muscled through on March 28. But the APC has never been together in soul. We know soul- soldering takes time; but in this arrangement, the souls of some had wandered away even before they began talking. I believe Saraki had always been one of those wandering souls.

You may not agree with me; there are at least three parties ruling the Federal Government of Nigeria today. The CPC/ANPP is in the Presidency, the New and Old PDP control the Senate, and the ACN with a lone voice in the Presidency deputising the sitting President. It also has a scattered and shallow control of the lower House of Representatives. All cooperating parties in the APC are still bundled up in their original individual phalanxes with different agenda. What is playing out now with Saraki is a marriage that was only on paper; not locked up in the cabinet of the heart.

When the President was challenged that his appointments were lopsided in favour of a group, he fired back saying he appointed the people he trusted. He told the truth; but these people are largely from the old CPC/ANPP formed and led by Buhari a few years ago. They now control the Presidency. The ACN too has its house intact. When the VP made a few of his appointments, he picked those he trusted who are members of the old ACN. They control the Vice-Presidency which is in the Presidency. In the Senate, Saraki’s willing tools to grab and retain power even with the docking episode are members of the New and Old PDP. Does this tell you anything? Anyone who said the PDP is dead is not alive! That force is the richest in Africa today. The money, whether stolen or hard-earned, may not run out so soon. Money, I am always reminded, answers all things.

I knew from the get-go that Saraki knows no other home but the PDP. His heart never left the party; only his body did. His father, Olusola Saraki, died a PDP chieftain. The road back to the PDP home is now in its final phase of reconstruction with supporters lining the route with orchards in their hands. The APC broom that swept all-comers together was just a transient arrangement and a rush-job to create political convenience and a shot at power. After that “docking” imagery seen all over the world, the marriage between Saraki and the APC became essentially over!

How will Buhari have his ministers confirmed this month? The walk is tougher now for this President. There will be no friendly Senate that will applaud the nominations. I am watching how Doctor Saraki will wangle his way to political safety in the hands of this President. I don’t care! By God, I care more about all of them just doing right by Nigerians who are still living from hand to mouth. People are dying daily of hunger and lives are not safe. That is why Nigerians are screaming and chanting in support of candidates and of this government. The hand-twisting and intrigues played by elected officials don’t make any difference in the life of an average Nigerian.

Is Saraki the only living Nigerian politician guilty of false asset declaration? If he is, his entering the dock is good for democracy. But if not, the war has just begun. If accusing and prosecuting fingers are also soiled with the Mycobacterium leprae of corruption, who then stands on a moral high ground to prosecute anyone? I guess only a Buhari from Daura is home-free to cast that precious first stone.

PUNCH