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SARAKI, A VICTIM OF CIRCUMSTANCE

 
The Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki has made potent impact in most of the leadership positions he held and in his political career. During the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo, he was appointed as Special Assistant to the President on Budget. During his tenure, 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 which significant impact was made.


He became the Governor of Kwara State on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in May 2003 and was re-elected in 2007 for the second term. While he was the governor, 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 being replicated across Nigeria. His charisma among his fellow governors got him appointed Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum.

During his tenure, Kwara became the first state to complete the Nigeria Independent Power Project; he introduced new health programmes including a state-wide campaign in 2008 to reduce maternal and child mortality from malaria; he introduced agricultural policy reforms to increase the commercial viability of farming, and also the volume of exports to international markets; he led significant and state-wide infrastructural development including improvements at the Ilorin International Airport Cargo Terminal, extensive road construction, and development of new sporting facility such as the Kwara Football Academy.

Most of those who hate Saraki have not taken time to at least eulogize him for the impact he has made in his leadership and political career, but are quick to tag him to corruption as if he has never done anything worthy of commendation.  He has made numerous headlines recently on print, electronic and new media with regard to corruption. Saraki is just a victim of circumstance in the corruption allegations and charges against him.

Today, some groups of political elites are fighting Saraki through the media and other means because he refused to project their interest. His major crime to them is because he became the Senate President against their plan. The corruption charges against him are politically motivated.  Most of those who claim to be crusaders against corruption do not have the interest of Nigeria at heart but are fighting him for their selfish interest especially those who because of their avarice are hankering for an inextinguishable wealthy lifestyle and political influence.

If Saraki had not emerged as the President of the Senate and had allowed and supported Ahmed Ibrahim Lawan to become the Senate President as earlier planned by All Progressive Congress’ (APC) elite, nobody would have brought corruption allegations and charges against him and would have been portrayed as a saint by the APC National Leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the elite.

This is how politics in Nigeria plays out. Corruption allegations and charges only affect those who work against the interest of the cabal or elite. When you are against the interest of the cabal or elite, that is when they will remember that you embezzled N10 billion when you were the governor, minister, director and so on; that is when they will remember that you did not remit $60 million to the  Federal Government of Nigeria; that is when they will remember that the certificate you used to contest election was forged; that is when they will remember that there are some Federal Government or State Government projects that you did not complete while you were in charge and so on.

Situations like these have occurred many times in the administrations of Obasanjo, Late Yar’Adua and Jonathan. One of the situations that surprised me was when the then Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi now the Emir of Kano, and addressed as Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II,  accused Jonathan and the Federal Government of being culpable for the missing $20 billion of Nigeria’s oil money. Before the accusation, Jonathan and his Federal Government saw nothing wrong in Sanusi, but the day that accusation was made; that was when they remembered that Sanusi also involved in some corrupt practices while he was the Governor of CBN which led to his suspension and sack.

When the Governor of Rivers State, Ezenmo Nyesom Wike set up a committee to probe the former Governor of Rivers, Chibuike Rotimi Ameachi ; Buhari, the Federal Government and the APC elite never saw any wrong Ameachi did while he was the governor. In fact, they did not even halt the process to set up a separate committee to find out if such corruption allegations and charges against him were true. They proceeded and used federal powers to ensure that Ameachi was confirmed as Minister even when the committee set up by Wike indicted him of corruption. But if Ameachi wasn’t in the good book of  Buhari, the Federal Government or the APC elite, that is when they would have seen him as the most corrupt person in Nigeria and would have called EFCC to swing into action against him.

When the Governor of Ekiti, Ayo Fayose once said that EFCC is a federal government “machine gun” that is used to fight those who oppose Federal Government and the elite, he was not far from the truth.

If Saraki committed financial crimes while he was the Governor of Kwara State, were there no EFCC and ICPC at that time to follow him up and charge him to court when his tenure expired in 2011? If EFCC and ICPC actually followed him up at that time, why didn’t they intensify the investigation and charge him to court only for them to resurface today in the corruption fight against him? It was even when he had political misunderstanding with Jonathan and some PDP elites that EFCC remembered then that he indulged in corruption. His misunderstanding with Jonathan and PDP finally made him defect to APC when he was the Senator after being elected in 2011.

The way politics plays out in Nigeria, anyone who steps on the toes of the elites or cabal, no matter the potent impact such a person had made in the past would likely become a victim of circumstance just like Saraki has become despite his good leadership while he was the Governor of Kwara State which they fail to acknowledge.


By Terfa Naswem

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