THE recent decision of the Supreme Court on the Senate President, Bukola Saraki confirming the jurisdiction of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) to try quasi-criminal charges leveled against him may have sent many of his supporters into reviewing the current political draft board.
Associates and allies it was gathered, have been deployed to study the available approaches that may be needed to surmount the current challenges. They have the mandate to fashion out a wining strategy in the event of the worst scenario.
In Ilorin his base and country home, the mood had been cautiously low among his supporters who probably are unaware of the ongoing assemblage of the technocrats, as they overtly suggest ‘solutions’ to the seeming political logjam Saraki has found himself.
From spiritual to dialogue and sending of emissary to perceived anti-Saraki forces, the suggestions seem endless but there appears to be a joker in the waiting which according to The Guardian investigations in Ilorin may be the needed elixir to free him from the present political quagmire.
Despite these disclosures by some sources to The Guardian, what is surprising is the unwillingness of many of the closed associates of Saraki to openly comment on “the sensitive” issue, citing the strict warning of “our political leader” (Saraki) not to speak to the press on it.
In the midst of this, the Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Kwara, Chief Iyiola Oyedepo believed that the law should ordinarily take his due course in the case of Saraki. Oyedepo, the Akogun of Igbomina land noted: “I see Saraki’s case as an acid test for the anti-corruption mantras of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). I don’t have anything against him, neither against his trials. The whole world is watching the scenario and expecting the outcome. Whatever may happen at the end, if it negates the principles of the Rule of Law, we will kick against it.”
An aide of Saraki, Alhaji Maja Yusuf, described Oyedepo’s views as wishful thinking noting: “our leader will not be jailed, he will not die, his present ordeal is a trial common to all men who are great and want to be greater. Anyone wishing him something negative is not God. Only God has the final say over any issue.”
Examining the development, an APC chieftain in the state, Chief Wole Oke said the extant issue is standing on the tripod of personal interest, personal ambition and group discipline. Oke, who was the third Republic Leader of Kwara state House of Assembly, warned that unless all the issues involved are cleverly resolved, it might snowball into a more festering crisis within the APC.
Oke’s view may tally with that of a serving member of the House of Representatives from the state who clamoured for anonymity, that the expected joker might be to pull out of the APC with all the pro-Saraki elements and float a fresh political party ahead of the 2019 general elections.
According to the serving lawmaker, “I don’t pray it will degenerate to that level, but if all other means failed, we may be forced out of the APC, a mega party we all formed to save Nigeria from the jaws of the PDP. We have our structures in place so it will not be a case of having to start from the scratch. That is one of the things that makes democracy what it is.”
When contacted, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara, Alhaji Oba Abdulwahab described it as a very sensitive political issue, directing all enquiries to the state’s party secretariat. The Publicity Secretary of the APC in Kwara, Sulyman Buhari said unless the party had formed an opinion on it his own opinion “would be irrelevant.” The APC Chairman, Alhaji Ishola Balogun-Fulani, in a taciturn manner said, “We are yet to meet on it.”
Right from the outset, the quest by Saraki to be the Senate President had been on controversial level. He was believed not to be the anointed candidate of the party for the plum seat. But sources said the seat remained one of the reasons for him ditching the PDP for the APC. Political analysts said the maneuvering moves by Saraki and about five serving States’ Governors at the eleventh hour no doubt culminated in the electoral victories of his new party at the polls.
Oke believed that the emergence of Saraki as the Senate President should be seen as a reality that could no longer be aborted. He warned that should Saraki and his associates shift their allegiance to another party, it might be the Achilles heels of the APC in future polls.
He harped on the importance of Saraki’s faction within the APC cautioning “if Saraki should pull out of the party today, then APC is finished. In fact from the look of things I foresee three mega parties emerging in the year 2019. These are; APC, PDP and a new party that may be led by Saraki’s group if he is not allowed to realise his ambition. This is a personal view of mine anyway but I see the present ordeal being linked with the year 2019.”
Speaking anonymously, a Professor of Political Science at the University of Ilorin, corroborated Oke’s position saying “part of what made APC to have won the general elections was the chip Saraki led out of the PDP at a crucial time. If the same sub-sector is pulled out of the ruling party, then the party with such a loss will greatly feel the impart.”
Suleiman Ajadi a chieftain of the PDP and former Special Adviser (National Assembly) to former President Goodluck Jonathan however disagreed with the don asking: “Which political party will Saraki join that will still offer him the position of the Senate President if he decides to leave the APC? I think he should just stay and face the consequences of his action.”
One thing Kwarans are happy with is the fact that Saraki is the first citizen of the state to have assumed the status of number three citizen in Nigeria.
This informed Yusuf’s argument that it was now the turn of Kwara state and as such “we must support Saraki because he is our representative. The overall benefit of having the Senate President in Nigeria is what we are looking at.
“We are not praying for it here at all but if it happens that the APC allows itself to be enmeshed in crisis, it may lead to the problem of alignment and realignment of forces and snowball into a leadership problem. That is the main reason we need to be careful over this Saraki’s issues.”
On whether an amicable resolution could still be feasible before the March 10 date when Saraki’s trial has been listed for hearing at the CCT, Oke said the option of any jaw jaw was foreclosed.
He said: “ I don’t think there is room for any amicable settlement again. A case had been established against Saraki. Besides, the anti-Saraki forces at the Senate are not keeping quiet, just as who is who at the APC national secretariat don’t want Saraki on the seat.
“But in the long run Nigerians will benefit from this political game. As it is now APC is an amalgam of irreconcilable personalities. There is none among them who is ultra patriotic. The orientation must change if the party will remain strong.”
Nonetheless, Yusuf was optimistic about Saraki’s ability to retain the seat of the Senate’s presidency “despite all odds”, adding “we are praying for him (Saraki) on a daily basis. Here in Ilorin, our trust lies only in the power of prayers that is what we had done, doing and will continue to do until all the issues are resolved.”
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