Monday, 21 December 2015

The Saraki Saga: Nigeria and the Legacy of Impunity



The Saraki Saga: Nigeria and the Legacy of Impunity
It’s so good to be back here after about four weeks of absence, during which period I had to attend to some pressing concerns.
When he finally appeared before the Code of Conduct Tribunal on Tuesday this week, Senate President Bukola Saraki averred that he was being persecuted. He said that if he were not Senate President, this whole hue and cry would not have arisen; pretty much the conclusion in many quarters within the Nigerian society.
Clearly, however, Nigeria is grappling with her entanglement in the threads of impunity such that any attempt to do the right thing is construed as some form of witch-hunt or another: political, ethnic, religious or whatever. This is not, by any means, to suggest that Saraki is guilty or not, for only a competent court can so declare him. This is only to demonstrate the fact that because of our checkered experience with impunity and the subversion of the law, every action is read through varied lenses of suspicion and cynicism.
In Nigeria, we have seen criminals move about with swagger simply because they are linked to the powers that be; simply because they belong to the ruling political party. We have also seen situations where the “big man” only notes the crimes of his associates and keeps them to his chest as bargaining chips or instruments of coercion, such that the day such associates prove heady, they are viciously hunted down. We have become so used to that such that even when a person is running from nothing, we conclude that someone is pursuing him; witch-hunting him. Therefore, even when we see good, we are cynical of it. Is it our fault?
The truth is that, with the coming to power of Buhari, many hitherto spineless government agencies have suddenly gotten their mojo back; either because they had truly been rendered toothless by the impunity of the powers that were or because the “body language” of the new president has kicked in the life into them. Whatever is the case, we are seeing what looks like action in the right direction from such agencies, and that is what we all want: that Nigeria works. Yet, our past legacy is taking its toll.
What is clear to all, including Saraki himself, is that his shot, and eventual success, at the position of Senate President has provoked the ire of some powerful persons whose interests he jeopardized and they would stop at nothing to get their pound of flesh for what they consider the man’s perfidy. As such, many have pointed accusing fingers in different directions.
Some say that Saraki’s woes is the doing of the presidency, even as the presidency has come out to say it has no hand in the drama. But given what we have seen in the past, it’s not easy to just believe any yarn. However, what does the presidency stand to gain troubling the Senate President out of his job? May be to really soften him ahead of the senate’s hearing on the President’s ministerial nominations, given that the man has romanced too much with the opposition and they may prove difficult. “Ruffle him a little, and he’ll get his acts together.” Otherwise if Saraki is dislodged from that seat, the opposition, Ekweremmadu, takes over and that is not a scenario Buhari wants to operate in.
Some have conjectured that Saraki is getting a taste of Bola Tinubu’s medicine. Apparently, because Buhari had vowed that he would never tamper with the National Assembly’s leadership selection, and in fact said, after the emergence of Saraki and Dogara, he was ready to work with anyone, many believe that the tussle for the soul of the NASS was between Saraki and Tinubu. Saraki had his way and thus, gored Tinubu’s ox. They claim that Tinubu is the monkey on Saraki’s back and will stop at nothing until the latter is dislodged. They have even gone further to say that, because he did not end up getting what he had bargained for when decided to back Buhari’s candidacy, as the President has sidelined him, Tinubu is so angry that he is ready to upset the cart by using a stone to kill two birds. The conjecture is that  dislodging Saraki will address his grouse with the Senate President himself; it will also punish Buhari with a PDP Senate President for sidelining him, Tinubu, who everyone agrees was the deciding factor in the President’s, and APC’s, victory at the polls.
Some have even conjectured that EFCC’s Ibrahim Lamorde is behind Saraki’s recent travails. Recall that in the past few weeks, the Senate moved to investigate the EFCC Boss and some people screamed that it was because the agency had invited Saraki’s spouse for questioning. Now they conclude that Lamorde is out to show Saraki that he’s got some aces up his sleeves.
Whatever it is, this is an in-house APC tussle and Buhari is expected to wade in and quell the crisis, assuming he’s not part of it. But that is the bind in the whole thing. This is a President who has vowed not to tamper with the course of justice. If he goes in and Saraki gets off the hook without the law been seen to have taken its full course, the President subverts the very principle he seeks to be guided by; if he lets the law take its course, he stands suspected of witch-hunting Saraki for getting in bed with the enemy for personal ambitions.
Such is Nigeria’s dilemma trying to make a clean break with her past.

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