by Abiodun Ladepo
Boy! Was it great seeing Bukola Saraki docked finally! It took the resilience of a brave, no-nonsense Judge Danladi Umar to demystify and bring down to mother earth the arrogant Saraki. From now on, no Nigerian, no matter how highly placed, would consider himself above the law. Henceforth, the Super Ministers of yesteryears; the Mercurial Governors of the past, who thought they had escaped with their loot, will no longer know peace. Twelve years…12 long years since Saraki filed a phony asset declaration form and he is being called to account for it. In Nigeria…in this same Nigeria where just a few months ago, corruption was not considered stealing according to its President? Thank God almighty that we are witnesses to this revolution.
Apparently, Saraki didn’t get the circular that the era of impunity; the era of “nobody can touch me”; the era of “pull my lips so I can spit” are all gone. He still thinks we are in the Jonathan era when the President could just call over to the IGP or EFCC Chairman’s office and tell them who to NOT prosecute. He thinks we are in the era when the President’s body language and total demeanor discouraged judges and law enforcement agencies from prosecuting corrupt officials. Somebody needed to pass the memorandum over to the Senate President’s office, wake him up from his dream and let him smell the coffee. Judge Umar did that for us. These are different times, my friends.
The rant from Saraki acolytes is that he is being victimized because he is the Senate President. Please come off that nonsense. Sell that balderdash to those hangers-on who feed off the crumbs from your table. You are a victim of greed, kleptomania and arrogance tripod. The arrogance…is it not the same arrogance that made you to describe your Vice President as an “ordinary commissioner” when he tried to mediate the NASS crisis you started simply because VP Yemi Osinbajo was a commissioner in Lagos when you were governor?
Obviously, Saraki believed that nobody who held a position considered lower than his would ever rise to a position higher than his in the future. So, nobody from Kwara, or from any other part of Nigeria, who held a position beneath that of governor could ever hold a position higher than whatever Saraki holds at any point in time. Such childishness! Is it not the same arrogance that got him to thumb his nose at the APC leadership when he was asked to help the party save face by allowing their preferred candidates to occupy other Senate leadership positions; this after he had colluded with his PDP friends to disobey and embarrass the party in his inordinate quest to become Number Three citizen? Is it not the same arrogance that got him to remark: “the President can go to hell. I don’t need him. He needs me to succeed” when he was asked to go and mend fences with Buhari over the crisis that followed his ascension to the Senate presidency?
They begged him…oh; did every reasonable party official not beg him? But he did not budge. They also warned him. When a man continues to climb the tree past the branches and past the leaves, he is about to fall to the ground. Saraki’s dog failed to heed the hunter’s whistle. Instead, he lined up Atiku Abubakar behind himself. In tow too was the Emir of Ilorin who could hardly breathe without Saraki’s handout. They both told him to keep doing his macabre dance; that they had his back. And he kept dancing. He failed to note that the time when Atiku influenced anything was long gone. And that only in parts of Ilorin could the current emir call the shots. Saraki lined up those whom the Buhari anti-corruption crusade has reduced to inconsequential, political paperweights and paper tigers. He was heading straight for perdition but did not know it. For someone with so much baggage, it has to be the height of tomfoolery or sheer obscene arrogance for him to remain in no-speaking terms with both the President and the Vice President and expect everything to be honky-dory.
Even if President Muhammadu Buhari was inclined to helping the Senator out of his self-inflicted wound, how could he have gone about it? Call Judge Umar and tell him what? “Stop prosecuting my good, incorruptible friend, lover of the people of Kwara and doyen of my party’s leadership”? No. It is not in Buhari’s DNA to intercede on behalf of characters like Saraki who were born with the silver spoon in their mouth, placed in positions of trust and privilege, but who plundered their nation’s wealth and then continue to wear the toga of arrogance and petulance that know no bounds
The obscene nature of his arrogance is reflected in the way he was brought up and the way he lived his life till date. From the day he came into limelight as senior officer at the now-defunct Societe Generale bank, through his entire time as governor and his election as Senator, graft, greed and power-drunkenness had been his middle names. Hundreds of people, including a close relative of mine, lost their entire life-savings at Societe while Saraki was in charge there recklessly issuing all sorts of huge loans without collaterals. Word on the street was that the loans were made to people and entities fronting for Saraki or his father. What was also clear was that while all investors in Societe lost money, Saraki and his father made money in leaps and bounds.
By his own admission, Saraki, in 2003 had N51.5 million in Nigeria, 2.9 million pounds sterling and $400,000 dollars in his domiciliary accounts. He owned at least eight properties in Nigeria worth more than N2.2 trillion. He also owned eight properties in London – all purchased about the same time in 2003 and worth more than $12.6 million. These did not include 15 automobiles (bought between 1997 and 2002) ranging from a Ferrari to 10 Mercedes Benzes, with four of his vehicles being bullet-proof – all valued at more than N263 million. In short, before (and I mean BEFORE!) he became governor in 2003, Saraki was worth a whopping N10.2 billion! This, for a man who did not own a single factory and was not manufacturing anything! After that, Saraki governed Kwara State for eight years. Your guess is as good as mine as to how much more he made while in charge of Kwara State funds in the middle of the oil boom.
This is the kind of sleaze that the Code of Conduct Bureau was set up to detect and prevent. And some gullible Saraki loyalists are crying “victimization” when they are actually the victims of his kleptomania. Rather than trooping from Ilorin to Abuja to provide useless “moral support” for someone who has stolen their children’s future as they did when he was arraigned, these hungry and rented supporters ought to be calling for Saraki to resign his Senate seat so they could send someone else whose probity they can vouch for to represent them. It is confounding seeing these hapless people empathizing with someone who has been indicted by the police for forging documents with which he got elected as Number One lawmaker in our country; whose wife is yet to clear her name in the corruption charges she is facing with the EFCC and who has stupendous wealth far beyond his legitimate earnings.
But if the hungry and hapless ordinary people did not know better, what about the 50-plus Senators who were so vicariously traumatized by what is happening to Saraki that they trooped to the Tribunal to provide support for this embodiment of all the vices we pray that our children eschew? How could any reasonable and responsible person be proud to be led by an entity like Saraki who lacks sound moral upbringing and who is driven by extreme kleptomaniac ideation for the purpose only of satisfying his unbridled, vaulting ambition? Curiously, I have not heard a single governor make a statement condemning any of Saraki’s alleged crimes or his attempted flight from justice. In other climes, party leaders and all sorts of national leaders will lead the chorus of those asking Saraki to resign and stop bringing the hallowed chambers of the Senate into disrepute.
How shameful did it look, watching on television that Saraki lawyer…the obscenely fat, apparently equally undisciplined Joseph Daudu, clutching at straws like a drowning man trying to eke out a safe landing for Saraki? It was indeed a fall from grace to grass for both attorney and client. If a secondary school class monitor got ridiculed like that, he would resign his position. But knowing Nigeria and Nigerians, Saraki will sit tight shamelessly. At the very next sitting of the Senate, one Senator should rescue the legislative institution by moving the motion to strip Saraki of his seat as Senate President. That is the honorable thing to do if the Senators have any modicum of respect for themselves and for Nigerians.
I refer the reader to a piece I wrote on this website last month – “Buhari Dead Serious about Corruption – Masu Gudu Su Gudu (Run if you Must)” in which I opined that this President’s anti-corruption freight train will run over anybody in its way. Big-time politicians like Saraki need to listen to little people like me who give them free counsel and fair warning. Interesting days lie ahead for Saraki and his ilk that have milked Nigeria dry.
By Abiodun ladepo