Saraki: For the good of the nation

bukola-sarakiIt is a very huge disservice to Nigeria that the political atmosphere is so fouled up and what should have been a salutary development in the quest for purity in public service has been tainted by its origins in intrigues and clash of ambitions. Even so, for the reasons of decency, of self-respect, of a sense of propriety, and consideration for best practices in public office, President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki should step down from that office and clear his name before the Code of Conduct Tribunal. He should do so to save from further denigration, his person, the office he holds, the institution of the National Assembly which he heads and all Nigerians as a people. This does not in any way mean he is not innocent of all the charges until proven guilty. But this act will put him down in history as having been a statesman when the times call for such. And should his innocence be eventually proven, his stock with Nigerians will rise beyond measure.

Saraki is on trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal on allegation of false declaration of assets. He tried, through his lawyers, to stop his trial, relying on extant laws of the country, but the courts, including the Supreme Court, have all ruled that he should go and have his day in court. This is fair enough.

Saraki’s emergence as Senate President is widely considered controversial and he is claiming this to be the reason for persecution by opponents within his own political party.

The Senate President has emphatically put word out that he is not contemplating any resignation. Rather, he would surely have his day in court. This again is quite reasonable given his innocence until proven guilty in the eyes of the law.

Against the backdrop of his ongoing trial, it is, however, worrisome that the Senate has begun a process to amend the laws that govern the activities of the two federal institutions directly involved in his case, namely the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) and the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT). This, even if not meant to favour Saraki as has been submitted, hints, at the very least, at inappropriate and wrong timing. It is a move that can only reinforce an enduring public perception of federal lawmakers as self-seeking and insensitive to public feeling.

Granted that, in the context of the rule of law that underpins constitutional democracy, Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) confers on accused persons the rights of fair hearing and a presumption of innocence until proven guilty, no one should lose sight of Section 23 which lists ‘integrity’ as a national ethic. No one should fail to note that the oath of office of a member of the National Assembly which Saraki took, concludes with the commitment, on oath, to ‘abide by the Code of Conduct contained in the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution…’

Election to public office is a trust; people who offer themselves for leadership at any level must, as a principle, earn by their integrity, the trust to lead and in turn, the right to be followed. Integrity, public trust, and leadership role are less matters of law and far more matters of morality. Indeed, to adapt from the words of an eminent political leader, high office such as the Senate Presidency is preeminently, a place of moral leadership. This is to say that no one should occupy for one moment his public office whose integrity is in doubt.

It is a deeply distressing sight beamed to the world of the No. 3 citizen of the Federal Republic sitting in the dock, labelled ‘Accused.’ This is not just about law. And it is most embarrassing to Nigerians that this should continue. For this reason, Saraki should, therefore, step down and clear his name first. It may well be true that this is the ultimate goal of his so-called traducers, yet, he owes himself this sacrifice as a way of claiming the moral high ground.

Saraki’s trial, while he remains Senate president, has largely overshadowed the legislative activities and the functions of the chambers. And, at a huge reputation cost, it also continually puts the Senate in particular and National Assembly and Nigeria in general, in the global limelight for a very wrong reason. Many wonder what manner of a country and a people allow, without raising objection, a man to migrate with regularity from the lofty seat of Senate President to the dock.

To vacate his seat in the face of this trial would speak much for Saraki’s personal values, his esteem of the institution he heads, and of Nigeria, his fatherland. He would convey the noble message that his personal interests are not above any other consideration and that his ambition does not outweigh the good of the country.

To step down would be the stuff of a statesman. If he really cares for his name now and in the future, for the Senate, and for Nigeria, he should sacrifice his office even if temporarily, and face this trial to its logical conclusion. By so doing, his personal stature will be enhanced beyond a self-seeking politician driven only by naked ambition or attractions of an office. He would show that Nigeria’s political culture is maturing and the country he is so determined to serve will not forget his sacrifice upon the establishment of his innocence. This will be his proof of patriotism and will determine his place in the political history of Nigeria.

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  • Edward Osadebay

    Saraki has no dignity. He epitomes the rot and decay in our political class and politics.

  • Efeturi Ojakaminor

    For our so-called leaders stepping down is never an option in this land. And then “the good of the nation,” what is that?

  • Dencom2016

    For a man without scruples, principles or a sense of shame, driven solely by his own ego and interests alone, full of inordinate ambition to be in power by hook or crook, sorely steeped in financial sleaze, who defied even his own father for political power, he would defy the nation, the office he occupies and Nigerians.

  • Villageboy

    While I agree largely with most of this editorial submissions, I do not see his resignation giving him a higher moral grounds above his political enemies or a status of statesmanship for the fact that Saraki is totally devoid of any scruples. When you are elected as a governor and you steal from your people. That is the issue we have with elected and appointed officials. They are simply sick in their minds. I do not know what the outcome of his trial will be, but he should consider himself a political orphan in Nigeria from now on.

  • DD

    You can only appeal to the sense of honour of a man who has honour. Saraki and his family have absolutely no honour. They’re a family of thieves and criminals who have stolen Kwara dry and left her people to live in penury. He would not leave that seat unless he is pushed out.

    • Mr. Abdin

      Mr. DD, please where did you get your facts? Or will you go and help the EFCC guy now telling lies?

  • emmanuel kalu

    This is what the people of Nigeria don’t really appreciate of what GEJ did when he conceded defeat regardless of it was for sure or not. The senate president is not about to the right thing and even his fellow senators are doing everything possible to prevent the rule of law to operate. it is left to we the voters to ensure that corruption is ended in our country,.

  • omo56

    His late father ran Kwara as his fiefdom, willed it to his son and daughter Saraki throughout his life had lived the life of
    entitlement. He sees himself as being entitled to do whatever it is he wants to do and one day governs Nigeria.
    Unfortunately for him, he lacks discipline to wait in line

  • Okoro Tonye

    This distraction is what immunity for public officers is about. If Saraki steps down, all other public officers will be targets of similar harrassments by political opponents. LET SARAKI SERVE-OUT HIS TERM. LEAVE HIM ALONE TO DO HIS JOB FOR NOW. When his tenure expires, then you charge him. Remember, this is not personal or is it? Rememb