Saraki – New Dawn for Democracy?

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Nigeria's Senate President Bukola Saraki
Nigeria’s Senate President Bukola Saraki

By Olubunmi Omoogun

This week has been a heavily packed week for news seekers. There’s the abduction of a former Secretary to the Federal Government under
Ibrahim Babangida government and Akure leader, Chief Olu Falae by a
gang of fulani kidnappers at his Ilu Abo farm near Akure, Ondo State
Southwest Nigeria. There is also the passing of the Chief Hannah I.
Dideolu Awolowo, wife of the former Premier of Western region and
foremost political and yoruba leader, Ikenne born Chief Obafemi
Awolowo of blessed memory. She died two months before her 100th
birthday celebration.
The news of the Senate President, His excellency Abubakar Bukola
Saraki being tried by the Code of Conduct Tribunal for alleged false
declaration of assets as public office holder while serving as the
governor of Kwara State, north central Nigeria.
Recall that Mrs. Toyin Saraki, former first lady of Kwara state and
wife of the Senate President was quizzed by the Economic and Financial
Crimes Commission, EFCC not long ago for alleged fraud. It was based
on her role as founder/President of her pet project, Well-Being
Foundation Africa (WBF AfricaY, a pan-African maternal health and
wellbeing charity.
Her husband’s trial by the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) coming on
this heel has been described in political circle as witch hunting,
scape goatism double crossing and what have you. The public, political
pundits, media and legal luminaries have carved all sorts of
terminology for the happenings going on with the Sarakis. Senator
Bukola Saraki being the central figure in this drama has pleaded not
guilty to the 13 charges read against him in the presence of 20
Senators and political friends that accompanied him to the CCT to face
the trial. Senator Bukola Saraki believes his ordeal is due to his
assumption of the office of Senate President. A position he assumed against the wishes of his political party the APC. People have questioned the timing of this action by the CCT especially at a time the National
Assembly will be resuming its duties after a long recess and at a time
President Mohammadu Buhari is putting finishing touches to his
ministerial lists and eventually pushing them forward for screening at
the senate this month of September.

There are angry reactions by some section of the population that
believed that this might stall the screening of the ministers when
finally brought forward to the senate by the executive. If the
Senate President is under trial by the executives by way of the CCT
why should the same senate under Bukola Saraki have the morality to
screen the ministers. Though the President, Mohammadu Buhari and the
APC have washed their hands off the trial of the Senate President
however, some supporters of Saraki feel that this is the handiworks of
some aggrieved APC chieftains who lost out in the Senate Presidency
race. All these are serious political manoeuvres which some say could
affect the fortunes and gains of APC as a political party.

It is no longer news that long before the March 28 Presidential and
National Assembly elections leaders have had cause to have a sense of
who to become the senate President, and why not after all its an
important position, in the hierarchy of government it is number three,
after the President and vice President of the nation. That is the
reason the APC had a mock selection in June to select its Senate
President. The Saraki group in the dead of the night turned the table
around and scuttled the party’s arrangement. This probably confirms
what Russel Wayne Baker, an American Columnist said in 1925 ‘the dirty
work of political conventions is almost always done in the grim hours
between midnight and dawn. Politicians work best when the human spirit is at its lowest ebb’. Russel can never be farther from the truth. The
plan to get Senator Ike Ekweremadu, PDP Enugu, South east Nigeria to
pair with Saraki to have Saraki-Ekweremadu ticket for the Senate
Presidency and Deputy Senate Presidency was something that was hatched in the grim hours between midnight and dawn when the spirit of the core APC members was at its lowest ebb.
The coming week will turn out to be another test for the APC led
National Assembly reason been that the National Assembly will resume
with a semi bruised Senate President just fresh from the defendant box
of the Code of Conduct Tribunal and the ministerial lists expected to
come through from the President, His Excellency Mohammadu Buhari to
the Senate for screening. The people are eager to see the final list
of the ministers and will have their eyes on the resumption of the
National Assembly with Senator Bukola Saraki presiding. Barka de
Sallah!