Bikola Saraki: A dwarf in the hall of greats, By Tony Ademiluyi

Posted by News Express | 29 March 2017 | 2,662 times

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•Senate President Bukola Saraki.

The separation of powers theory is what shot Baron de Montesquieu to fame. His radical ideas which the then decrepit monarchy viewed with utmost suspicion was the remote cause of the popular 1789 French Revolution, which made France the first country in the entire Europe to jettison the monarchy for a republic. One of his quotes is apt and evergreen.

He posited: “When the legislative and executive powers are united in the same person or in the same body of magistrates, there can be no liberty; because apprehensions may arise, lest the same monarch or senate should enact tyrannical laws, to execute them in a tyrannical manner.” 

The United States of America is a surreptitious antithesis of the wonderful check and balance theory, in the sense that the vice-president is also the President of the Senate. This curious arrangement was deliberated upon by the founding fathers of the nation after the war of independence from Britain. The agenda was to make him a vote-tie breaker, as there are 100 senators. So, he/she only comes in to cast a vote in the event of a tie or deadlock, as the 101st person. The founding fathers, as a way of preserving the ideals of Montesquieu’s theory, ensured that it was the Senate Majority Leader that presided over Senate meetings.

The Nigerian experience is more straightforward, as every senator has an equal vote, since the delineation of constituencies puts the number at 109, an odd number that has no need for an external tie-breaker. The position of the Senate president, who also doubles as the chairman of the National Assembly, is very critical as he or she is supposed to represent the aspirations of the people, especially the man on the clapham omnibus at the apotheosis.

Perhaps, the worst thing to have happened to Nigeria’s National Assembly was the emergence of Dr Abubakar ‘Bukola Saraki as its chairman and Senate president. My heart bleeds that he is occupying the same position once held by the Great Zik of Africa, Dennis Chukwudebe Osadebay, Akweke Abyssinia Nwafor-Orizu,  Joseph Wayas, Dr Wilberforce Chuba Okadigbo, and Ken Nnamani who saved this nation from former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s sinister third-term agenda; as well as David Bonaventure Alechenu Mark, who blocked the Western liberal imperialist’s same sex marriage agenda.

This is a man that has hardly done a day of honest labour all his adult life. He is not known to have practised, lest made a mark in medicine, if he ever even hung the stethoscope after his mandatory Housemanship and National Youth Service Corps. He simply banked on his father’s vast contacts to become an executive director in the now defunct Societe Generale Bank of Nigeria (SGBN). He has no antecedent of spearheading any revolutionary idea in an era where the likes of Tony Elumelu of Africapitalism fame, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, Fola Adeola, Jim Ovia, among many others, were blazing a trail.

Being a simpleton was bad enough, being allegedly culpable in a bank collapse was simply unacceptable and a mortal sin to boot. In his late father’s rabid quest for raw power, depositors’ funds were liquidated to finance the 2003 elections that unseated the late Rear Admiral Mohammed Lawal (retd), whose only sin was asserting his independence from the overbearing Oloye of Kwara politics.

Bukola Saraki was hurriedly drafted to succeed Lawal, from Abuja, where he was serving Baba Iyabo (President Obasanjo) as his aide on budget. Never mind, I doubt if he can initiate an intelligent discourse on budgetary matters. He is another tragic case of a reluctant politician who becomes sucked-in by the lure of power and never lets go till, perhaps, the cold hands of death does him part. He has proven to be more adept than the proverbial cat with nine lives.

 First, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) seems to have turned a blind eye to his alleged ignoble role in the crash of SGBN, which turned many depositors into overnight paupers. The year 2002 was terrible in the memory of millions of Nigerians. I can recall vividly how a successful businessman who was a philanthropist of sorts became a mendicant, unable to pay his children’s school fees and wife’s humungous medical bills. His committee of friends had to set up an emergency fund appeal to send him and his family on economic exile to the United Kingdom, to save them from something worse than Biafran war-time starvation. His case file seems to have ‘disappeared’ or gone ‘away on leave.’ Old things seem to have passed away since the Heritage Bank deftly re-emerged from the ashes of the SGBN.

Second, he has used his immense financial resources to turn his trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal to a persecution and maligning of his person. Things have degenerated so badly that many idle senators, led by Dino Melaye, offered ‘ex gratis’ moral support to his ‘hardworking’ wife, Toyin Saraki. When the Panama Papers scandal broke out, he claimed his wife and her family were the ones who should have been on the dock of public opinion before her infamous denial. Again, there was another loud silence from the financial regulatory agencies.

Third, he has followed his late father’s populist footsteps of massively impoverishing the populace and then attending to their ephemeral needs of simply providing them miniscule meals. His attempt at morphing into a folk hero has ended up in a gargantuan fiasco. The infuriated hoi polloi whose eyes are opening more widely than that of Adam at the Garden of Eden nearly stoned him. This prevented him from praying openly at the Mosque barely a year into his becoming the nation’s number three citizen.

Fourth, his greed and lust for power is extremely nauseating. This was a man who betrayed his father, who was both his financial and political benefactor by fielding the incumbent governor, Alhaji Abdulfattah Ahmed, who was then his chief of staff, against his younger sister, Gbemi Saraki, the choice of the then Strongman of Kwara politics. The shock of his eldest son and child’s betrayal must have hastened Pa Olusola Saraki’s joining of his ancestors barely a year after the 2011 election, which forced him into ‘premature’ political retirement in the manner reminiscent of how radical Samuel Goomsu Ikoku contested against his own father, Alvan Ikoku, and sent the educationist, activist, nationalist and politician into a non-pensionable retirement.

Fifth, his avarice for filthy lucre is legendary. He and Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu a.k.a Jagaban, are united in their belief of former governors having a mind-boggling pension plan to take care of their whims and caprices even in death. Kwara is one of the most impoverished states in the country. Yet, it is providing him a house in Abuja and Ilorin GRA, alongside some other breath-taking perks for the rest of his idle life. What manner of a lawmaker/‘law twister’ is this!

Many decent Nigerians are still in anguish over the non-confirmation of Ibrahim Magu’s appointment as the substantive EFCC chairman, only for the Turakin of Ilorin to stoke the flame and unduly heat up the already charged and tensed political stratosphere.

Saraki responded to a quip by Senate Majority Leader, Ali Ndume, who opined that it was hypocritical of the Senate to allow Saraki to continue in office while he is still in court battling the corruption allegations against him. His response was akin to that of the biblical Pontius Pilate.

He lamely contended: “You are jumping into conclusion that he (Magu) was rejected because of the accusation. I don’t think there was anywhere we said he was rejected based on accusations. We have nominees that come all the time with different issues. Two weeks ago, we screened the Chief Justice of Nigeria, and he scaled through. Now, the EFCC chairman came and he did not pass the screening. Someone else will come and may pass. This is our constitutional role and I don’t think we should personalise or politicise this.”

It is instructive to note that the silver spoon kid made this statement in faraway Morocco, where he was attending an African Summit on Climate Change and Food Security, ostensibly on taxpayers’ funds. Never mind that it will be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of the needle than for Kwara State or even his immediate constituency, Kwara Central, to ever witness food security in his lifetime.

It is sad that he is also a Kings College, Lagos alumnus. This is an institution that has produced political greats like Anthony Enahoro, who moved the motion for the nation’s independence at barely 30; Dr Francis Akanu Ibiam, who was the Governor of the defunct Eastern Region; Chief Hezekiah Oladipo Davies, who played a gallant role in the country’s struggle for independence and was a two-time minister in the First Republic; Chief Adeniran Ogunsanya, whose affiliation with the Great Zik of Africa was the only thing that caused him the gubernatorial seat in 1979 against Alhaji Lateef  Kayode Jakande, who ironically lost the right to be described as  Kings College Old Boy with his expulsion from the great college, Dr Alex Ekwueme, who was the nation’s vice-president in the aborted Second Republic; Femi Okunnu, arguably the nation’s best Minister for Works and Housing, despite his training as a lawyer, among a host of men of timbre and caliber, apologies to the late Dr Kingsley Ozuomba Mbadiwe of K O knockout fame.

The Senate should do the right thing by redeeming itself through the purge of its greatest moral albatross. As long as it obstinately refuses to do so, it has murdered sleep, and we certainly cannot afford a repeat of the Macbeth tragedy.

Ademiluyi can be reached

Source: News Express

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