Now, the case of Bukola Saraki seems to have forced a sense of softening
relativism, even on the hardest of erstwhile enemies of the former
President. Many seem to converge in the thought these days, that
Bukola Saraki should consider himself very lucky that Olusegun
Obasanjo is not the current occupant of the presidential throne in
Aso villa, when it comes to resolving his issue in a quick-fix mode.
The moment this badly hated Olusegun Obasanjo or his political
approach suddenly becomes the central element that a section of
Nigerians has started missing with respect to returning the country
to calmer waters, then there is a natural tendency to expect a
return to the drawing board and quickly too. After all, everything
was expected of President Muhammadu Buhari. Not weakness!
Starting from his inaugural speech when people expected a radical
re-assurance and a fire-brand reading of the riot act to deviants
and enemies of progress down to his lukewarm reaction to the
pedestrian madness of Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State, President
Buhari set out very early in the day, to disappoint some crucial
expectations. The message of belonging to everyone and then to no
one at all, did not resonate with me any bit, because I reckon it
was NOT the most inspiring reassurance the battered psyche of a
traumatized people needed. In my view, it was another characteristic
failure of speech-writing and Public Relations management in the
Nigerian tradition. But this is a subject for another day.
It did not come as a surprise, therefore, when the new President failed
several expectations of wielding the big stick on Bukola Saraki,
when the latter set out – also very early – to define the nature of
politics that he would wish to see prevail in the new dispensation.
Saraki sought to create a political climate of personal
indispensability. He wanted a political carrousel that would revolve
around him as an ancillary if not, central person of importance with
the President probably playing a statist role if Saraki had his way.
To achieve this goal, Bukola Saraki was prepared to sell his
grandmother. After all, the deal to grab the senate presidency, no
matter what party leaders say or do, was not hatched overnight. It
was a deal planned long before inauguration in complex underhand
dealings, unknown to Muhammadu Buhari.
It will be difficult, however, to fault the actions of the ruling party
all through the saga, in deciding who should be the Senate President
soon after the inauguration of the President. The party conducted an
internal democratic mock election to decide who takes the slot.
Therein lies Saraki’s ambitious and anachronistic miscalculation. He
seems never to have expected such an active move by his party and
thus failed to prepare the groundwork accordingly. Inexperience,
however, seems to have led him to lose sight of the fact that his
subsequent defiant move would definitely reap consequences that
would be difficult for him to contain. He was probably sure that he
could weather the storm once he occupied the exalted seat. He
underrated the indifference and wild determination of a lion that is
But unaware of the Judas-type scheming behind his back and believing all
had been properly taken care of, Muhammadu Buhari summoned a meeting
with senators. Saraki’s refusal to attend this meeting alone was not
only exceedingly spiteful on the President, he proceeded to have
himself elected President of the Senate with the help of his former
party friends exploiting the absence of a substantial number of his
present party allies. The battle line was thus drawn too boldly in
Now, what reaction did Nigerians expect from the President? Former
President Olusegun Obasanjo would probably have picked the gauntlet
in a frontal counter-attack as well. He would either have persuaded
enough Senators (most likely with the instrument of the EFCC) to
arrange a quick impeachment and an acceptable replacement (never
mind if a quorum is formed in a hotel lobby) or effected an
immediate arrest of Bukola Saraki once the Code of Conduct Tribunal
had found credible and authentic reasons to file charges against
him. The eventual fait
áccompli would have been foisted on the polity with the power of
law enforcement. President Buhari did none of this. His immediate
reaction was to grudgingly avoid any personal contact with the
desperate bad boy of the hallowed chamber like the prima Donna and
the spited Majesty.
Saraki even went further to seal the fate of his party leaders by picking
Principal Officers again, in defiance of party overtures. That was
when he finally let out all the horses from the inner stables
without a care what consequences may befall him.
The criticism that Muhammadu Buhari should have adopted the Obasanjo
option in resolving the Saraki issue from the very beginning
appealed to me only to a limited extent for one, simply because the
chapter would have long been closed by now and the present
distractions avoided. Yet, Buhari’s approach even though unscripted,
clearly portends a lasting column to sustain the democratic edifice
if it finally plays out in his favor. If it fails, however, the
President will regret the day that he chose to soft-pedal on Bukola
Outwardly ignoring and avoiding Saraki but quietly permitting the filing
of authentic and provable charges against the Senate President, he
confined the politically spoilt child to a long-drawn battle of
defensive scheming in a mercilessly tantalizing ploy. In the past
one year, Bukola Saraki will surely be able to count the number of
nights he enjoyed a proper political sleep at his fingertips. He has
been running from pillar to post begging and bribing for a soft
landing, while the Lord of the Manor gleefully pulls the strings of
the puppets from behind the scene in the delight of having the last
laugh. A torturous ploy indeed! Within this long-haul cage though,
avowed loyalists are now coming to the understanding that they need
to tread more cautiously and not stick their necks too far out for a
battle that is not theirs. Controlled desertion is now beginning to
Another major and lasting, albeit unplanned benefit of Buhari’s approach
is one that has automatically aroused the people without the
President asking for it since Buhari will be the last person in
Nigeria to pay for professional protesters. With the extremely
desperate move to amend laws in a fast-tracked process to rescue
their drowning boss, Nigerian Senators ended up striking a raw nerve
in public sensitivity, paving the way for a new spontaneous #OccupyNASS
protest. How better could Saraki have played into Buhari’s hands?
How best could one have mutated into an example of how not to play
the politics of desperation and short-term gains only?
That is, of course, just one side of the coin. The other side of the coin
that plays very well into Buhari’s calculation as well is the
symbolic representation of a big fish in the sea of corruption. For
all intent and purpose, observers may often lose track of the fact
that Saraki is not by any means, facing trumped-up charges. To
borrow the logic of my good friend, Radio Talk Show-host Jimi Disu,
the fact that many others or even all other politicians are as
corrupt and guilty as Bukola Saraki, does not render Bukola Saraki
William Shakespeare philosophized on people, who are born great, people,
who achieve greatness and people, who have greatness thrust upon
them. That Bukola Saraki belongs to one of these three categories is
unquestionable. I leave the choice to my readers to decide the
category to which Saraki belongs. One fact is certain, though.
Bukola Saraki is such a politically spoilt child and a celebrated
scoundrel that he doesn’t seem to feel comfortable hanging out in
the back seat to wait for irreversible and incontrovertible
opportunities. His haste to prepare grounds for his presidential
ambitions without a Plan B now seems to be marring and undoing his
dreams forever and ever.
While it is true that many, if not all other politicians are as corrupt
as Bukola Saraki in the deliberately wrong and anticipatory
declaration of assets, the sudden emergence of the Panama Papers
simply reminds Nigerians (of George Orwell’s
“some are more equal”
treatise) that even though everyone is guilty, some are even more
Today, we know that Bukola Saraki owns plenty money largely drawn from
illegal sources. From shady bank management as widely reported in
the Nigerian media, through the obtainment of loans
down to the illegal enjoyment of double remuneration as Governor and
Senator, we now know that Bukola Saraki has money. Plenty of it too!
His life desires have long been taken care of. Several generations will
know no suffering as long as they are born into the Saraki dynasty.
That much money he already has. What more did he want? Why did his
ambitious shot at the presidency become so urgent and such a
do-or-die affair? Today, his war chest is robust and it does not
hurt him, who he recruits to fight his dirty war for him.
Who then does it surprise that all the Belgores and retired senior judges
of this world, who should be cooling off at the corridors of
academia enriching the knowledge of younger generations in
jurisprudence, choose the petty path of being noticed in the
Nigerian political scene with obscene and obnoxious postulations?
Who does it surprise that a seasoned doyen of the noble pen
profession – namely Dele Momodu – whom many of us have erroneously
held in high esteem, now takes pleasure in intellectual somersaults
and logical acrobatics twisting and turning facts to celebrate
half-truths? Who does it surprise?
Those scheming and plotting of political banditry, assassinations and
tactical decapitations that may have worked perfectly well for local
champions at the state level, now seems to be a different ball game
altogether at national level.
If Nigerians have long suspected low human and educational quality in
politicians manning our legislative chambers, Buhari’s reaction to
Saraki’s rascality has more than served to confirm this reality
beyond reasonable doubt. From the abandonment of duty posts to
accompany the renegade Senate President to his trial, through the
cross-party acceptance of SUV bribes at inflated price down to the
bandwagon enthusiasm to amend valid laws for unintelligible reasons,
our legislators have more than exemplified how democracy should not
be practiced. More than anything else, Buhari’s approach in crying
out to the Public on the lawmakers’ manipulation of the annual
budget has put the final nail on the legislative credibility button.
No matter what Saraki does, his political fate is sealed. At least for
now! Like it or not, he will have to kiss the Senate Presidency
goodbye either by resignation or by ejection. The day of reckoning
comes for everyone sooner or later and Saraki’s days are now.
One more point:
Has anyone noticed that former President Jonathan’s
media adviser Reuben Abati has now suddenly rediscovered the concept
of neutrality and objectivity in political analysis? A man who wrote
“Gbolekaja Presidency” in a series of six articles and did nothing
but dish out scorn, jeers, denigration and disparaging comments on
his subject now knows how to approach the Saraki’s issue with
neutrality and objectivity? Wonders!
Where was this sense of fairness and professionality when he wrote
about Obasanjo? Should we forget the unprofessional approach to his
disastrous work for his paymaster as media adviser that finally
contributed to his paymaster’s demise? Reuben Abati ought to
apologize to Nigerians for his crimes against the noble profession
of journalism if he seeks to be taken seriously anytime in the
Follow me on Twitter @friskyLarrimore, Watch out for my new book
"Africa's Diabolical Entrapment"
Frisky Larr is author of the book "Nigeria's Journalistic Militantism" probing into the poor role of Journalism in Nigeria!