By AKIN OSUNTOKUN: DIALOGUE WITH NIGERIA
“As I said in my first appearance at the CCT, this is a politically-motivated case. The case was trumped up in the first instance because of my emergence as the President of the Senate, against the wishes of certain forces. Ordinarily, I doubt anyone would be interested in the asset declaration form I filled over 15 years ago. As many have rightly observed, it is plain to see that the anti-corruption fight is being prosecuted with vindictiveness, to target perceived political opponents. I believe in the need to fight corruption, but I will never be party to the selective application of the law or the rhetoric of an insincere anti-corruption fight”-Senate President Bukola Saraki on the occasion of his discharge and acquittal by the Supreme Court
“The police have obviously corrupted and politicised their investigations into the Offa robbery incident. They have turned it into an instrument for the party in power to suppress perceived opponents, witch hunt issue for blackmailing people from freely choosing which platform on which they want to pursue their ambitions and a matter for harassing the people whose exit from APC would harm the chances of the party in the forthcoming elections. This plot aimed at compelling me and my associates to stay in a party where members are criminalised without just cause, where injustice is perpetrated at the highest level and where there is no respect for constitutionalism is an exercise in futility and it will fail.”-Senate President, Bukola Saraki, on his recent recall by the police on the Offa bank robberies
The background to the exoneration of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, by the Supreme Court was his role in the rejection of the subordination of the National Assembly to the Presidency of General Muhammadu Buhari inclusive of the political intrigue implicating him in the violent activities of a criminal syndicate in Kwara State. Somehow, the preliminary police investigation into the particularly bloody armed robbery siege on the ancient town of offa (targeting bank branches) had evolved to become an investigation into an alleged godfather role of Saraki in a gangland mafia style enterprise encompassing the whole of Kwara state. According to the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, some of the robbers (caught) confessed they were habitual errand boys of Saraki and hinted that one of such errands was the celebrated armed robbery attack on Offa. And the Nigerian public collectively did a double take, really?
Whatever else he may be, Saraki is a most improbable armed robbery mastermind. What other extrapolation can one possibly draw from the publicly available biographical data on his family circumstances and the highly ‘materially’ rewarding succession of public offices he had held? It would certainly require uncommon credulity to entertain the remote possibility of Saraki contemplating bank robbery as a favorite pastime. On the contrary, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris, right from his posting as Kano State police commissioner, has established the reputation of a police boss whose job definition reeks of a rough and ready willingness to play the emissary and fixer for deadly intra political elite targeted missions. And it is to this utility, rather than acuity in the maintenance of law and order, he owes his job security and elevation to the height of police professional attainment.
Idris is so unique, that in order for him to be enthroned as Inspector General, the careers of upwards of thirty senior police colleagues had to be abrupted and brought to a premature end. It was on his case that the famed incapacity of President Buhari to hold his appointees accountable was brought to public glare. It is nothing short of curious to discover that haven been publicly found wanting in the discharge of his duties including disobedience of a specific presidential directive, the offending public official suffers no consequence. It is difficult to quantify the resultant degeneration of the Benue state genocidal violence, what is not difficult to discern is the propensity of the IG to prioritise the extra mural obligation of serving as partisan instrument of intimidation over the constitutional assigned role of the maintenance of public order, safety and security.
Recall how the non-issue of a press statement (critical of the Buhari government) issued on behalf of President Ibrahim Babangida by his spokesperson was declared a treasonable equivalent of national emergency crisis-the pursuit of which requires no less the total sequestration of the Nigerian police headquarters for days on end? Recall the commitment of 300 policemen to the cause of preventing a wounded senator from absconding from his sick bed even as hoodlums held Nigeria to ransom and intensified their reign of terror-unchallenged by a critically undermanned police force. As it was with the case of the wounded senator, so it became with the deployment of 30,000 police contingent to complement 10,000 soldiers to secure the Ekiti State governorship election. Any wonder then at the seeming intractability of the degenerate security crisis bedeviling Nigeria? Yet rather than look inward and undertake a critical self-appraisal, the president seeks the escapism of seeing the ghosts of Libyans and frustrated political opponents behind the spiraling genocidal bloodlust of a rampaging Fulani militia.
This recurring mindset of hiding in plain sight was at play when the president embarked on shedding crocodile tears over the judicial discharge and acquittal of Bukola Saraki. Feigned the President: “I have seen many instances where individuals and groups seek the destruction of the judicial institution in the foolish thinking of saving their skin, instead of going through the painstaking process of establishing their innocence. In the case of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, I have seen him take the tortuous path of using the judicial process. He persevered, and in the end, the highest court of the land, the Supreme Court, says he is not guilty as charged. This is what I have done in the three elections in which I was cheated out, before God made it possible for me to come here the fourth time I ran for the office.” Here we are confronted, once again, with the typical hypocritical muddle of the President, in the confused approbation and reprobation of the Nigerian judiciary in the same breadth.
While commending and identifying with the courts for the judicial vindication of Saraki, Buhari proceeded, unabated and oblivious of the contradiction, to condemn the same courts for cheating him out of victory in three successive Presidential elections. Are there honest and enlightened Nigerians who still require education on why Buhari lost those three Presidential elections especially in view of the political instruction of the 2015 election? Beyond the assumption that those elections were rigged (not forgetting that the 2015 presidential election was also rigged), was it really conceivable that Buhari could have won any of those elections?
Need we reiterate such contraindications and tell-tale signs that in all the elections, (beyond the predominantly Muslim Northern states), in no other state of the federation did Buhari’s political parties post a viable presence. And in at least two of those elections, he did not even venture on a state by state campaign in the South. Is there any logic to the inherent assumption that his stronghold in the North was all he needed to win a Nigerian presidential election? What was the primary lesson of his victory in the 2015 election if not that the complement of a substantial block of votes from the North and South was indispensable to success in a Presidential election in Nigeria?
Yet here we are in 2018, six months to another Presidential election and Buhari is still able to convince himself that he won all the elections he had ever contested. The subordination of contradictory evidence to the falsity of messianic pretentions has of course become a trademark of the Buhari Presidency. It is the reason why a President who is campaigning for reelection on the self-adulating platform of anti-corruption sees no contradiction in seeking out Adams Oshiomhole to lead the APC campaign for the 2019 elections. It is the reason why a man proven to have forged his school leaving certificate remains the presidential assistant on anti-corruption.
Against this backdrop of willful inability to come to terms with reality, it is a moot point whether the president, now that he is the commander-in-chief of the powers of coercion, will accept an electoral verdict that is at variance with the prior sense of his own political invincibility. It similarly raises the concern whether we should not attribute an ulterior motive to the fact that never in the history of Nigeria have we had a national electoral agency and security agencies so lopsidedly composed and amenable to the wish and command of the president as we have today. Do we have here the inherent logic of working to the answer?
Yet we thank God for the little mercies of the Supreme Court and Bukola Saraki. In a remarkable twist of fate, the latter has emerged an improbable and immensely flawed hero of this political season of anomie. I am well aware of the perils of premature applause and the plausibility of the dog returning to swallow its vomit. Regardless, Saraki has proven a profile in courage, albeit survivalist courage, and served the precedent of how the legislature can assert a meaningful measure of autonomy in a system loaded against its independence.
Whatever his motives, he has wittingly or inadvertently advance the cause of taking down, perhaps, the last bastion of the old virulent political order. The unfolding drama would have been so much more comically gratifying were it not so tragic. Imagine the artless political delinquency of pitching Saraki with the choice-accept to become my political accomplice (and all your sins are forgiven inclusive of added-on political and economic goodies) or I frame you for armed robbery in an instant. Nigeria is characteristically sliding into the thick of another political darkness-with no silver lining discernable on the horizon. Yet it is no reason we should fold up and crumble without the dignity of giving it a fight. The man dies in all who keep silent in the face of tyranny admonished the old lion. The admonition speaks to Nigeria, as it always does.
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