Senate President Saraki: Victor Or Vector Of Nonconformist Virus?

Saraki-Illustration-14-6-15-CopyAS he sat at the head chair in the podium of the Red Chamber of the National Assembly last Tuesday, Senator Ahmed Bukola Saraki was busy subduing his mischievous mirth.

Yet as he gloated inwardly at his latest political conquest, a lot of thoughts must be running through his mind. It is possible that as he ruminated over his besting of the wonder boy of South West politics, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu; Saraki must be saying, did I not tell you? However, this was not the first time the scion of the Kwara political strong man, Oloye Olusola Saraki, was perfecting the art of political rebellion.

It is as if agitation runs in the young Saraki’s blood. His father, as the leader of the Senate in the
Second Republic, was reputed as moving many motions for the pardon of the late Biafran warlord, Chief Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu. Even when Ojukwu was eventually granted state pardon by the defunct National party of Nigeria (NPN), federal government of President Shehu Mohammadu Shagari, Dr. Sola Saraki was instrumental to Ojukwu’s embrace of the NPN, despite the fact that Igbo were clustered in the then Nigeria Peoples Party (NPP).

Even at the dawn of the Fourth Republic, the former Senate leader ensured that Ojukwu joined him in the All Peoples Party (APP).

There is something between the two men that makes them find political rhythm. And given Ojukwu’s nonconformist tendency, the same trait must have held them together.

They were so close that when the two men agreed to support Chief Chris Nwankwo as Secretary of APP, Ojukwu had a rethink after finding out that Chief George Muoghalu, who was also contesting the position, was his kin. All it took Saraki to change course was a phone call from Ojukwu, detailing his closeness to Muoghalu. No other Nigerian, not even the late Emir of Kano enjoyed that close affinity with Ojukwu. So there must be some radicalism that defines the Saraki dynasty and Bukola must have inherited that attribute excessively.
By ascending to the Presidency of the Nigerian Senate, Saraki has exceeded his father’s record. Before getting to that position, ABS had also vanquished his father in a show of political uprising and ambush. While serving out his second term as Governor of Kwara State in 2011, the new President of Senate squared up against his father by putting up and supporting a rival governorship candidate on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), his former party, in the state.

Trained as a medical doctor, ABS seems adept at diagnosing political sentiments and prescribing appropriate remedies to his advantage. Therefore, having gauged the mood of voters at the possibility of the dynasty recycling the governorship post within the family, ABS raised his friend and former commissioner of Finance under his administration, Alhaji Abdulfattah Ahmed as his possible successor.

The gambit paid off, such that those who were sulking silently over Oloye’s decision to make his daughter, Gbemisola, succeed his son, Bukola, sided with the exiting governor: his candidate won the governorship. And with the successful routing of his father and sister, ABS steadied himself on the path to becoming the new political godfather of Kwara State. This path was laid out on his success at the poll to represent Kwara Central in the Senate!      

But prior to his senatorial conquest, ABS had shown interest at contesting the 2011 presidential election, only for that ambition to be circumscribed by the consensus arrangement brokered by Northern Elders. The former Governor took his discrimination on the consensus consideration with unbecoming equanimity and learnt some useful lessons: that he is considered more a Yoruba than a northerner! Armed with that awareness, Saraki tried to warm himself into the Dr. Goodluck Jonathan’s presidency such that many a politician in the North held unto the belief that he was actually prompted by President Jonathan to join the presidential contest in 2011.

Whether that perception was genuine or not did not matter to ABS, but when it dawned on him that President Jonathan was not prepared to take him to confidence, especially in pursuing certain socio-economic policies, the idea that the President was politically naïve (clueless?) seemed to cross his mind. From thence he started plotting a new track for political expression. That opportunity presented itself in August 2013 when a group of five state governors including the former Vice president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar decided to rubbish the image of PDP, by staging a walk out in the middle of the party’s mini convention.

Though he had virtually nothing to lose, safe in the Senate, ABS added his moral support by siding with the rebels. And by associating himself and his protégé with the nPDP, ABS added momentum to the faction, which made their entry into the newly registered All Progressives Congress, (APC) impactful.  

As an experienced politician, ABS must have known that APC gaffed by admitting the nPDP en bloc into their fold. And it has become a poisoned chalice. Having seen the window of opportunity presented by the lack of outright majority of APC senators in the Eighth Senate, Saraki was confident to seek the Presidency. He saw the attempt by some APC leaders to zone the Senate Presidency out of the North Central as being targeted at his ambition. Yet Saraki recognized that the only point of disagreement in his former party was President Jonathan’s insistence on contesting the 2015 presidency and harboured the feeling that PDP Senators-elect, most of whom were his colleagues in the Governors’ Forum will grant him the right of first refusal when considering whom to support. It was this realization that made Senator Saraki to spurn the extra-legislative process of conducting a primary election for APC Senators to select a Senate presidential candidate. He was sure that such novelty would enjoy popular approbation, especially among the PDP Senators-elect who still remember the sting of Aminu Tambuwal’s emergence as Speaker of House of Representatives in contradiction of the party’s designs. Of course, through that tiny crack, the smoke of rebellion has entered APC.

And just like Senator Danjuma Goje told journalists, the PDP saw an opportunity and took it. The rebel was supported to rebel against his newfound friends to settle a political score. With the victory snatched by Saraki, he now holds the ace. Should APC decide to wield the big axe against him, he is already the President of Senate and an APC member in name.

The PDP 49 Senators would not hesitate to rally round him and call the bluff of APC. As a vector of the political virus of rebellion, if the heat becomes too hot, the Senate President would not mind being the rallying point for the rebuilding of PDP and strengthening it to transit from opposition back to number one position. Worse still, emboldened by his new position, Saraki could leverage the formation of a new political party out of the wreckage of APC. But there is one cold reason why the Senate President may enjoy his victory for quite some time.

In the event of President Buhari appointing the three eaglets of South West politics – former Governors Babatunde Fashola and Kayode Fayemi and Senator Mammora into the federal cabinet, the Senate President could also cheerfully act as the undertaker to the political diminution and dismantling of the Asiwaju political machinery in the South West. Like Samson in the Bible, Dr. Bukola Saraki could gloat that out of the eater came something to relish, but the danger in his recent political perfidy is that the roof might finally collapse on his head this time around. Should PMB decide on just one term presidency, what happened in the National Assembly last Tuesday might have effectively put the APC structure beyond Tinubu’s control in 2019. By then the former Lagos governor will not fail to see the

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