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Leave Saraki alone

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[FILES] Senate President Bukola Saraki PHOTO: TWITTER/ BUKOLASARAKI

Once again, Nigerians were treated to the macabre dance of her supposedly prime anti-corruption agency, the EFCC, when it invited former Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, for another round of inquiry. And once again, Nigerians voiced out their disdain for what has become the obsession of the agency with the Saraki inquisition, wondering why a single individual would be subjected to such experience more so after he had been vindicated by the highest court of the land. Little wonder a popular online medium described the former Kwara state governor as the Most Investigated Politician in Nigeria.

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And what was/is Saraki’s offence? It has become very clear that at no point was his travail in reality linked to any supposed corruption. It has been, it is, and one dare say will continue to be a matter of political witch-hunting. His ordeal, we all recall, started when he decided to be a man of himself after the 2015 general elections, instead of being a man of the political order. He had defied the establishment, jolting many who used to consider him as a neophyte of sort and emerged the Senate President. He decided not to go the way of the common thread, in order to ensure Nigeria came out of her tradition of having only ‘yes men’ in the leadership of the upper legislature. And there is always a price to pay for “intransigence”. Saraki is paying the price for defying the established order. He is paying the price of being a man for Nigeria and not for an individual’s whims and caprices.

But the basis for his disposition probably lies in the deep understanding that, like the Yoruba worldview posits, it is unprofitable for a household to sleep facing the same direction. Even nature hates it. But many had condemned him as being too ambitious that time. Today, however, those who hurled insults at him, have come to see the treasure that he represents, when they look at the current senate and how that important arm of government has completely been subsumed by an amphibious executive arm. Today, it is difficult to know if we truly have a body of legislators that can challenge the executive to do what is right. It is difficult, because both the executive and the legislature are sleeping and facing the same direction; the very tradition Saraki promised to change, and which he indeed changed, during his four years in the saddle as President of the Senate.

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Today, both the Senate and the Presidency are speaking the same language, an aberration in progressive democracies, and that language is not helping Nigeria, either in the economic sector, or in terms of national security.
Saraki is a treasure. And that is what the establishment seeks to corrupt and make unwholesome to Nigerians. Thus, despite an acquittal by the Supreme Court in what is perhaps the most celebrated trial of a prominent politician in this country, they have continued to use the EFCC to harass him to no end. He has appeared in virtually every court of importance in this country. Even at a point they linked his name to a dastard robbery at Offa, just to destroy his name. Today, we know better, both with testimonies of accused persons going on in the court, and the national disgrace that those at the helm of investigating him on that score have currently brought on our nation.

Those who wanted him out couldn’t come to face the reality of his escape from the legal dragnet they had spread across his path in 2015 and to ensure he doesn’t become what they fear about him, have continued to hunt and haunt him with the EFCC. That is the gospel truth. And that was what played out again last week. And their fear is real, we should acknowledge that for them. The way Saraki has been moving across Nigeria; the level of solidarity and support his cause has been receiving from across various segments of the Nigerian political system, and the unrivalled failure of the current government in comparison with its predecessors, are enough reasons to fear a rise of the Sarakis; by which term we mean the noble Nigerians who are committed to seeing a truly just and egalitarian society, a Nigerian where the system works because they are built around institutions and not individuals, a society where no one should be afraid to aspire to the highest possible position he/she desires once qualified.

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They are unhappy that despite what they did to him, he still went to help an Atiku Abubakar, another terror to the knight, in the 2019 election which the system claimed was won by the ruling party. They still can’t comprehend how a man they have considered politically dead when they snatched all elective posts from his state from him could suddenly become the toast of Kwarans, such that on the last Sallah, they trooped out to welcome him while his traducers organized their boys to stone him at the frontage of the Government House.

Dumb strategy. We all know that Government Houses in Nigeria only share neighbourhoods with the nouveau rich; so where did those ‘stoners’ come from? If it had happened at Oja-Iya, or Ojagbooro, or even Post Office, or Oyingbo we would all have said the people were truly angry with this Saraki of a man. But no, right at the frontage of Government House, with its complement of security men, was where this dastard act took place. And any word from the governor?

I digressed. Nigerians should not stop shouting against the tranny this administration is demonstrating against Saraki. In the words of Desmond Tutu, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality”. Posterity will also not appreciate our silence in obvious situations of persecution.

Saraki’s persecution is, without doubt, an extension of the silencing of the critic and his platform as we are witnessing across the country. They have banned Twitter and silenced freedom of expression. They are daily attacking journalists. In my state, Kwara, we have scored another first: three social critics of the governor and his lacklustre administration have been remanded in prison on allegations they spread false information. It is like we are back in 1984 again.

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But genuine democrats, know that we are not going to stay in this 1984. It is not our portion. Never again should we allow dissidents to be persecuted; never should we allow journalists to be arbitrarily arrested and incarcerated. Never again should we allow human rights abuses go unchallenged. Nigeria is our collective heritage and we shall not leave it for some to mess up just because they do not like a Saraki face, here or there. The traducers should leave Saraki alone. They should respect the decision of the Supreme Court.

Oba writes from Ilorin.

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Bukola Saraki
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