Saraki, the god of Kwara politics, is on the ropes. And he now sees clearly the inhumanity of gods. When candidness or even pretensions to it is traded in the public, something is let out. We know Saraki is politically shrewd, he has been constituting governments in Kwara effortlessly. But we didn’t know he can write a book of lamentations.
Footballers don’t cry when shoved, because pushing and shoving, bad as they are, are now part of the game. Saraki can moan, but nothing that has happened is culturally perverse. Anti-corruption fight in Nigeria has always been selective and being on the wrong side is where the tragedy lies. Perhaps he expected more from Buhari. But why does he make a mountain out of a certain ‘original sin’ and attribute to it all his predicaments? If a principled stand against a Muslim/Muslim ticket has left him more naked than Adam, he should not be ashamed. That won’t make him a thief. Is it then profitable to continue casting himself as a victim of some political skullduggery he is not accustomed to? No, but who would begrudge him a refuge in a comforting platitude.
Morality is good in politics. But morality is not an exercise in crass opportunism. We know what obtains in Kwara. And elsewhere. Sins should be acts that offend the people rather than political gods. But we haven’t been fortunate. Democracy promised the transfer of power to the people, but poverty and ignorance have frustrated democracy in Nigeria. Gods and kings still litter our space, still constitute our political reality.
So Oloye’s son, raised in the shrine of a political deity, ought to know how to navigate the temperaments of gods. And save the unnecessary polity heat. But he chose a course of action with the eyes on rewards.
Risks are always worth taking. But the inordinateness of ambitions is often determined by superiors. And sometimes it could be viewed as grave as blasphemy. Lucipher, they say, didn’t do much worse. Deities have hierarchies.
It was a candid Dele Momodu who summed up by asking him to stand and carry his heavy cross. Whether his is more like Jesus’ than those of the two thieves, the courts will tell us. He has surely been running around a bit too much. His sins are not exceptional. The public understands that. It’s possible that the angry deities are yet implacable. But it’s gone a bit too far to be retrieved as a ‘family affair’. When egos are this inflamed and hearts this hardened, soft landings are replaced with plagues. Saraki has openly described his ordeal as a persecution. He may have had enough. But such an affront is considered by the gods as gross insolence. He may well start taking off his own gloves. But it is always inadvisable to engage superior gods in a fight with bare hands of questionable hygiene.
If Saraki thinks he has been betrayed by his friends, Momodu agrees with him. Not because the charges against him are fictitious as his expressions of moral indignation suggest. But because the presumption that in being ‘born again’ he is now blameless, a new creature, has been dismantled. The hopes of sanctification were informed by the free acceptance of all shades of sinners into the new sanctimonious fold.
And the huge offerings he brought which the gods relished in. And he has a moral case here. It’s not in vain that Momodu, keen on doing some laundry business for him, made poignant references to the billions Saraki mobilized to install this seemingly ungrateful government. Why would the gods accept other sinners, close their eyes to their multitude of sins but hound a most gracious benefactor? Obedience is better than sacrifice. These gods, like all gods, want to be lords. Saraki hasn’t reconciled himself to their lordship. Democracy sought to take the power back from gods, but it hasn’t quite succeeded in Nigeria. And has failed woefully in Kwara.
Saraki should be conversant with the arbitrariness of deities. Why then does he pretend to be fighting for the independence of the legislature? If politics for Saraki was such a moral idea, then Kwara house of assembly would been the house of freedom. But our standards should be better than that of Saraki and Kwara. So Saraki is free to employ all legal devices to seek justice, to defend his rights, which include the right to aspire to be Senate president. But he must understand that the independence of the legislature, in a multiparty democracy, is founded on party politics. And parties are free to treat delinquent members with displeasure. He insists he didn’t betray his party. The slippery steps he took, in concert with political opponents, to actualize an ambition that undermined party cohesion didn’t enhance trust. Did they?
Saraki is innocent until proven guilty and that is why calls for his premature resignation are puerile. It will be disastrous to contemplate a situation where anyone whom the executive chooses to prosecute automatically loses legitimacy to hold public office. Because our institutions are what they are, pliable and infantile. Saraki can remain in office, but he must maintain the dignity of that office. When he pours contempt on the chairman of the CCT, he belittles the high office of Senate president. He has a right of appeal. That mere contemplation of tampering with laws to emasculate criminal justice structures in retaliation has left the Senate sullied and tarnished. And such bellicosity undermines all Saraki’s sermonizing on institutional fairness.
Selective justice is not good for the polity, but it is better than unbridled impunity. Let’s catch some today. Buhari had promised much more, but we have been forced to curtail our expectations. An EFCC that engages in massive ‘witch-hunting’, that takes down some corrupt politicians, is an improvement on the one that frolicked with almost every corrupt politician and hounded only petty thieves. The downfall of any thieving politician should be celebrated by the dispossessed masses. And it shouldn’t matter that malice or vindictiveness incited the prosecution. Every conviction signifies a raising of the bar.
Hypocrisy is not good, but it has been part of politics since time immemorial. Those who have gone for Saraki’s jugular are not saints. They are good predators. They have chosen to maintain one stranglehold. Saraki wonders why the tribunal judge should depart from an earlier judgment he now considers faulty. That is what the law actually advises in the absence of a binding superior precedent. He wonders why the EFCC now deposes evidence at the CCT. While that might mean that the initial CCB charges were weak, sentimental outpourings won’t defend him against these new seemingly weighty charges. His innocence will not lie in what didn’t happen at the CCT in the past or the new found love between the EFCC and CCT. But in refutation of the evidence tendered against him.
Let them fight themselves. Let’s keep our peace. The change will come one day.
Dr. Ugoji Egbujo