Saraki And Karma
The first brush Senate President, Bukola Saraki had with the law was in 2013 when the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission arrested him but later granted him bail twenty-four hours later for financial crimes relating to the time he spent as Executive Vice-Chairman of his family owned bank, Societe Generale Bank of Nigeria.
His apologists opined that his travails stemmed from the fact that he became a whistle blower by exposing the billion naira petroleum subsidy fraud as Chairman Senate Committee on Ecology.
His emergence as Senate President was against the directive of his party, the All Progressive Congress. Dogara also towed the same line but at least he had the decency to defeat Femi Gbajabiamila fair and square. Saraki merely cashed in on the quorum rule and crowned himself Senate President when his adversaries were waiting for Godot at the International Conference Centre. This was a rather cowardly act as it portended a morbid fear of a possible defeat and an avaricious love for power at all cost.
Never in the history of the Presidency of the Senate since the Second Republic as such a show of shame happened. In the fourth republic, the late Dr. Chuba Okadigbo was the choice of the Senators in 1999 for the exalted seat but the then President Olusegun Obasanjo preferred the late Evan(s) Enwerem. The latter got his way but the impeachment of Enwerem was done by the 109 senators present to pave way for the ascendancy of Okadigbo. A sham quorum was not sought but respect was accorded to the presence of all senators for the election of their helmsman and that has been the trend ever since.
Like the Shakespearean Macbeth who murdered sleep with the regicide of King Duncan, Saraki seems to have followed suit. His wife, Toyin was arrested by the EFCC for some infractions she allegedly committed when she was first lady of Kwara state. The case died down as usual in Nigerian fashion but a signal was sent to the medical doctor turned politician that more darts were to follow.
It was no surprise that the Code of Conduct Bureau charged him before the Code of Conduct Tribunal for false declaration of assets. The sanction is the forfeiture of assets, a ten year ban from holding public office and his disgrace not only from the senate presidency but from the senate as well. He has failed to appear twice before the bureau on the basis of a motion he filed before an Abuja high court while the tribunal has ordered his arrest for failing to obey the summons. The scion of Oloye Sola Saraki has cried blue murder that he is being hounded politically by insinuating that the bureau is acting on external orders – fingers being pointed at the Presidency and is wondering why this is coming up twelve years after he was first sworn in as governor.
The ground for a twelve year hiatus by the bureau is rather asinine as a public office holder should be ready to answer questions about his or her past at any time. United States President Barack Obama came out clean with his previous record of marijuana ingestion during the 2008 campaign. Front runner of the Democratic Party and former American Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton is currently under fire for using her personal email addresses whilst serving the nation as the number three citizen. British Prime Minister, David Cameron admitted to marijuana use while still a student at Eton College. It should not be strange for the holder of a public office to be haunted by his or her past. It is nothing new as the public deserves every right to know with unrestrained access to the minutest details being the watch word.
His accusations of the hand of the Presidency in his ordeal is only a futile attempt in currying favour from the public as he even still owes her answers for the way and manner billions of naira disappeared from the till of the defunct SGBN to fund his 2003 elections and how the once moribund bank has now morphed into a sturdy regional bank – heritage bank with the shares of the family still intact while millions of depositors both affluent and indigent wept and gnashed their teeth for decades. Will he still accuse the Presidency this time around?
Apart from his mind boggling assets which raise pertinent questions, he should stop his further display of cowardice by running to the courts to shield him from appearing and defending himself. His alleged loot has given him the financial muscle to hire the best and brightest attorneys so let him prove his innocence in court and cease prattling like a high school lad whose candy was taken away from him.
His rise to the Senate Presidency is only possible because of the banana republic our dear country has been turned into. Will it possible for Ben Madoff to ever hold any position no matter how lowly in Uncle Sam? Can Michael Milken, the King of junk bonds who was an investment genius before he turned renegade run for any public office in God’s own country?
If the change that Nigerians voted for on March 28th is to make any meaning, this should be the acid test for the entrenchment of a corrupt free leadership. Corruption has taken the country centuries backwards and the time for redemption is now.
Let Saraki go to a fair trial. Enough of court shielding and plea bargainings!