Abubakar Bukola Saraki, what manner of a man?

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Senator Bukola Saraki
Senator Bukola Saraki

The first official statement credited to Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki as his acceptance speech following his controversial emergence as Senate President on June 9, omitted the word corruption, or ‘thieving’, the preferred word for corruption by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

How to tackle corruption was one of the wars proclaimed by All Progressives Congress (APC) before election and on assumption of power. The Federal Government has hit the ground running in the prosecution of the fight, but Saraki subtracted the task out of his arsenal.

In the pronouncement on that day, Saraki spoke loudly and extensively on his vision for the new Senate and how it would make laws that would enable the country to renew its infrastructure, reform the oil and security systems as well as to boost agriculture.

He talked about the change the people have been waiting for, the responsibilities conferred on him by the new position and the autonomy of the National Assembly.

The act of omission or commission of the corruption fight in Saraki’s inaugural statement, or reference to it, has somewhat exposed his antipodal disposition as a politician whose body may be in APC but his soul in PDP.

It could also mean, and this is of great concern, that the Senate President is afraid of his past, but more importantly, he is uncertain about his future.

It could reveal also that the man is saying at the onset that he is opposed to the fight against corruption, in contrast with his party’s agenda, or that it is not his priority, or that governance should continue to be business-as-usual.

Since that pronouncement, political observers have been watching with keener interests what his next political permutations would be.

Saraki came to the earth literally with a silver spoon in his mouth and he did not delve into politics by accident although he did not graduate in politics-related discipline.

According to his biography, he was born on Dec. 19, 1962 to the family of the late Dr Olusola Saraki, a medical doctor, an outstanding politician and Senate Leader from 1979 to 1983.

The young Saraki attended King’s College, Lagos, from 1973 to 1978, and Cheltenham College, London, from 1979 to 1981 for his High School Certificate. He then studied at the University of London from 1982 to 1987, qualifying as a medical doctor.

He worked as a Medical Officer in the U.K., before his appointment as a Director at Societe Generale Bank (Nig) Ltd from 1990 to 2000.

He was mentored by his father, and his political career began when he was appointed Special Assistant to President Olusegun Obasanjo on Budget in 2000.

In 2003, he ran for the office of the Executive Governor of Kwara State on the platform of PDP. He won and also won his second term in 2007.

In 2011, he ran for the office of Senator, representing the Kwara Central Senatorial District and won, succeeding his sister, Gbemisola Saraki.

Saraki has become the third most powerful man in Nigeria since June 9, by virtue of the position he is occupying, but since then the National Assembly where he will be holding sway, expectedly in the next four years, has never known peace, because he must be Senate President at
all cost, and because of his projected agenda to be Nigeria’s president.

Saraki must lead the Senate in good and in bad times, so, he is held responsible always. Unfortunately, the crisis in which his ambition has plunged Nigeria was hatched by a microcosm in the chamber, including the Senate President.

The rot, therefore, cascades from the top, and it is evident that rebellion and lover-of-myself-alone syndrome are part and parcel of him.

The Senate show of treachery masterminded by Saraki is certainly not how to repay his late father who taught him the art and science of politics and made him to abandon his stethoscope many years ago.
Nonetheless, it is a vindication that a pig will prefer the mud as its habitat, no matter the garlands and ornament and comfort the animal is adorned with. That is its trait.

The political empire of the Sarakis in Kwara State where they hail from commanded much respect. Oloye, as his father was fondly called, was a kingmaker in Kwara politics.

Anyone anointed by him effortlessly sailed through politically, including his son, Bukola who served his
two terms as governor from 2003 to 2011 without opposition, his performance notwithstanding.

He kicked against his father in 2011 when the old Saraki wanted to install Gbemisola, Bukola’s sister, as governor in the state. She was then a senator.

The fierce resistance by Bukola made his father to pull out of PDP, floated the Alliance Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN) to pave way for Gbemisola, but Bukola had his way, resulting in his candidate and incumbent governor of Kwara State to emerge.

The father was ruthlessly routed by Bukola in the contest which became a spectacular finale of struggle for supremacy in Saraki dynasty as Bukola snatched the mantle of leadership from his ailing old man.

So, it is on record that when Bukola Saraki fights, he fights dirty; so his opponents must be prepared to retaliate dirty for him to get the message. If he comfortably and without remorse wrestled with his family members, including his biological father, come what may, who then will he not square up to? Some even attributed his father’s death to the role he played in that 2011 episode.

Back to the anti-corruption crusade: If the Senate President is apparently non-committed to the fight against corruption, as demonstrated in his acceptance speech, it is understandable.

While he was a director at the liquidated Societe General Bank where his father was Chairman, he was allegedly involved in many questionable deals, resulting in the collapse of the bank.

Also, while he was governor of Kwara for eight years, his performance was said to be less than impressive, with the continuation of deals through obtaining of unsecured bank loans, illegal transfers of money and misappropriation of funds.

The race for presidency in Nigeria, Insha Allah, will begin in 2019 but few people in APC cannot wait, because they dream it is their birthright, even when the task of governance ahead is so gargantuan that it will take some time to clear the rot left by the sacked PDP administration.

There is nothing wrong with nursing ambition to serve if, according to the four-way test of Rotary Club, it is built on truth, it is fair, it builds goodwill and better friendships as well as being beneficial to all concerned. Obviously, Saraki’s ascension to the senate presidency
failed to satisfy these cardinal tests.

How then can such a man justifiably stand among his fellow lawmakers and anti-corruption crusaders? How thorough and unfettered will the anti corruption fight be and how will the world perceive of the country in this fight? When the anti corruption bills start rolling in from the executive arm of the government, will they be subjected to the desired scrutiny at the Senate?

How Abubakar Bukola Saraki will become a worthy ambassador and a sellable agent against corruption will be seen in months ahead, but no matter how it is reconstructed, the past cannot be wished away, and it is the past that reshapes the future.

Saraki must abide by the party’s directives, suspend his arrogance and selfishness in his new party, do away with at-all-cost mentality and imbibe the four-way Rotary test for the desired change to start with him.

It is, therefore, time to cut Saraki to size by his party, by the rule of law and by the mass of Nigerians who yearn for unblemished change.

Adeoye is a Public Policy Analyst

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