What does Saraki want? By Abdulrazaq Magaji

Date: 2017-09-09

By the time you read this, Senate president, Bukola Saraki would have returned from Saudi Arabia where he claimed to have gone to pray for President Muhammadu Buhari! Thank God! It is daybreak and Dr. Saraki has suddenly realized he should join in the prayers for better health for the president. We can only wish Senator Saraki also took time to expiate for the 2011 betrayal that accelerated the passage of Dr. Olusola Saraki, late Waziri of Ilorin!

The prayer-for-Buhari gaffe, like similar ones in recent times, simply failed to fly. It goes to show that Dr. Saraki must change tactics if he truly desires to get his campaigns back on course. The spate of is public relations debacle began with a dubious support for the not-too-young-to-run campaign. He followed this up with a wrongheaded attempt to turn Nigerian workers against the executive by saying the senate he leads was prepared to expedite action on an executive bill on a minimum wage regime whenever the administration is ready!

The mother of all gaffes came when Senator Saraki arrogantly declared that, 'as a responsive and responsible government official', he has refunded all monies he collected as pension from the Kwara state government since 2011! Like a bad coin, the bogus pension refund story has become a huge embarrassment and, if it was meant to buoy up his campaigns, Senator Saraki and his third-rate publicists would now be wishing that they could have been more circumspect.

Nigerians could not have forgotten that, only last year, a desperate Senator Saraki swore to an affidavit to the effect that he was not on the pension roll of the Kwara state government! The action that has now exploded in the face of the senate president was a desperate reaction to discredit documents presented by the EFCC to substantiate allegations of fraudulent practices when he served as governor of Kwara state. The question now is: What pension monies did Senator Saraki refund and, which receipt was acknowledged by the Kwara state government if, as he swore last year, he was not on the pension roll of the Kwara state?

Expectedly, Dr. Saraki has attributed his troubles to the incompetence of his slothful media team! Ironically, the dismissal of 98 members from Senator Saraki's outsized media team was left to the man who should have topped the dismissal list. When he arrived the media centre to brief the press, Senator Saraki's chief publicist and oddly-named Yusuph Olaniyonu cut the image of a piteous publicist just served the last warning 'to deliver or get the gate' by a despairing boss! Any hope of a rebound by Team Saraki evaporated the day President Buhari returned from medical leave!

All these are instructive, coming few weeks after Justice Danjuma Umar of the Code of Conduct Tribunal said Senator Saraki was without blemish and should go home and sin no more. And, left in the lurch, expectedly, are the ridiculed people of Kwara, the so-called State of Harmony. Justice Umar said he found no evidence that Kwara state was plundered when Dr. Saraki served as governor! No matter! What does matter for now is that the people can only pray and wish for justice to catch up with leeches who have sworn not to leave them in peace. True respite will however come if, in 2019, the people vote to end the costly puppet show that characterizes governance in the state.

Yet, few politicians have shown the capacity to court stomach-churning controversies as Dr. Saraki! The man is simply amazing! Even before he became governor, courtesy of a loving father he eventually betrayed, Dr. Saraki has displayed an unparalleled love for jaw-dropping controversies. As well as being adept at courting controversy, Dr. Saraki is a good pugilist. Reference here is to the devastating blows he threw in 2011 to revive his flagging political fortunes when he pummelled the much-loved Waziri of Ilorin, late Dr. Abubakar Olusola Saraki, to a distasteful and heartbreaking submission.

But, typical of men who punch indiscriminately, the options available to Dr. Saraki may be dwindling faster than he knows and the seeming air of invincibility which he believes has been his main forte may eventually be his undoing. One sign of this was his failed bid to get pliable supporters in the senate to crown him acting president when President Buhari was on medical leave! It is becoming clearer that Dr. Saraki's victory, a pyrrhic one at that, when he manipulated his way to the senate presidency in 2015 has become a millstone. For now, any hope for a big outing in 2019 might have come to grief!

Senator Saraki's recent journey to Saudi Arabia has shown another side of him largely unknown to the public; aside being a multi-skilled manipulator, he knows when to turn a fight into play! The senate president's journey to Saudi Arabia, ostensibly to pray for a perceived foe could just have been an escape hatch! Whatever happens, Dr. Saraki will be reading the political climate wrongly if he fails to see the handwriting on the wall. He has, in a way, bitten more than he can chew and, the presidency, at least for now, should be the least of his worries. In a manner of speaking, Senator Saraki's fowl has perched on a rope and, now the fowl and the rope are no longer at ease!

It is sad that the late Waziri of Ilorin, Dr. Abubakar Olusola Saraki went to his grave with a heavy heart! No parent, especially in old age, deserves to be betrayed by a child they doted on! Yet, those who made life impossible for Baba Saraki gloat and see nothing wrong in assuming that betraying doting parents is fair in politics! It is not!

It cannot be out of place to advise those who made life impossible for one of Nigeria's finest politicians to go weep their eyes out at his graveside.

Any other way provokes the question: what does Saraki want?

+234-805-138-0793 Magaji is based in Abuja

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