The Godfathers Underestimate Saraki

By Olufemi Oluwaseye

Perhaps, a more appropriate title should have been “The Godfathers Overestimate themselves”, but what is certain is that the true picture of the Saraki trial is being blurred somewhere. And deceitfully so.

Of all the serving governors the APC poached from the then ruling PDP, Kwara’s Abdulfatah Ahmed was the only one among the G5 who was not “wooed” by the poachers. That’s because the APC knew who the real master in Kwara was. They visited every other state where their lust drove them. We were all surprised when Kwara showed up in the final list. One man made it happen. And it was not Abdulfatah, no; it was Bukola Saraki, sitting far away in the red chambers of the national assembly in Abuja. So much power did he wield that there didn’t need to be any open meeting. It probably took just a phone call – and “whoosh” – down went the PDP in Kwara; emptied into the APC. Such is the stuff Bukola is made of.

Bukola is a deadly power freak. And he never minds whose ox is gored, how many toes are crushed or how many ties are severed in his quest for power. His father, who he coldly dethroned as the don of Kwara politics and his sister, not to mention Goodluck Jonathan and the entire PDP are some of his victims. Many are still licking their wounds. That is why it must sound oddly strange to Bukola’s ears to hear several sermons from APC stalwarts on the morality or otherwise of his brutal journey to becoming the senate president. To him, all is simply fair in love and war. End of story.

Bukola believes in getting what he what through whatever means. He was greatly underrated when his father, the late Senator Olusola Saraki was alive. They assumed he was a daddy’s boy. But long before becoming governor of Kwara in 2003, largely due to his father’s influence, Saraki had been carving a niche for himself politically. In 2000, former President Olusegun Obasanjo appointed him as Special Assistant to the President on Budget. During his tenure as Special Assistant to President on Budget, Saraki initiated the Fiscal Responsibility Bill.

He also served on the Economic Policy Coordination Committee, where he was responsible for the formulation and implementation of several key economic policies for Nigeria.

In 2003, he ran for the office of the Executive Governor of Kwara State on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and won. He was sworn into office in May 2003. He ran again for re-election in 2007 and won his second term. As governor of Kwara, he led reforms in agriculture, health, education, finance and environment policy. One of his major achievements was inviting displaced white farmers from Zimbabwe to Kwara State and offering them an opportunity to farm. This led to the establishment of Shonga Farms programme, which is now being replicated across Nigeria. His charisma among his fellow governors got him appointed as Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum.

By then, people were referring to Olusola Saraki as Bukola Saraki’s Father. And not the other way round. As chairman of the NGF, Saraki positioned himself ultimately for the grand prize: the presidency. Saraki, under the Yar’Adua presidency was easily the most powerful governor in Nigeria. He influenced the appointment of Lamido Sanusi as CBN boss and had his imprints in most of the running of the Yar’Adua government. After stepping down for Jonathan in 2011, he immediately sent his sister packing from the senate, taking her seat in Abuja, while at the same time demystifying his father so easily in Kwara, the man dying soon afterwards, while he strategized for the future.

Bukola Saraki only saw the APC as a stepping stone. And that’s what it means to him. His ambition is obviously more important. But in politics, he has done absolutely nothing wrong. So, that’s why it’s necessary to put this Saraki trial in proper perspective.

The grouse is that Saraki rebelled against the powers in the APC to become the president of the senate. Those who still believe his trial is purely a criminal case without political undertone are simply naive and can believe anything, including the “fact” that Bill Gate is from Enugu. Saraki is simply being dealt with. And the aim is to persecute him off the seat, and to teach him a lesson. However, Saraki is not such a person as to be scared at the sound of war.

It seems the persecutors have an exaggerated opinion of themselves. And assume that they can whip anyone into line. If anyyone was ever a master of his domain, it was Saraki. In Kwara, his word is law. In the senate, he has built a rough confederation brushing aside any party lines. With both PDP and APC senators in his boat, he’ll hardly sink without pulling down the house. The case of impeachment should be flushed down the drain. It won’t work. The media blackmail won’t affect him one bit. The only option is to nail him at the code of conduct tribunal. He would then appeal, and exhaust all known legal options before stepping down- that’s if he must!

Meanwhile, he’ll need to confirm ministerial nominees, ambassadors and all the scores of presidential appointees. Then the budget would have to pass through him. And more executive-legislative interactions. Then, perhaps, the godfathers would realize this man holds no prisoners. He could look very gentle on the surface, but at 52, the volume of blood his spear has smeared is intimidating, friends and foes alike. And it looks like some of those threatening him may join the grim list.

That was why I posited that the TVC inspired hashtag #SarakionTrial is hogwash. Saraki is not on trial. Saraki is in a war. And he’s used to it. If he loses, he’ll take down many with him. And if he wins, as he may likely do, he’ll simply drink the blood of his foes, bury their bodies, and coldly move on. As if nothing happened. And waiting for his next victim(s) like a hungry vulture, Bukola Saraki would retain his eyes on the ultimate prize: the presidency.

Olufemi Oluwaseye tweets @olufemisp

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