Unbearable choices ahead of Bukola Saraki
*Another Saraki marionette for Kwara Government House?
From Tunde Mohammed
Before the main issue (future of Kwara), I do not know how Senator Bukola Saraki feels these days but for sure he must be suffering some mental and callous punishment not fit for an Omoluabi going by the frequency and scale at which his name is being linked to so many controversial matters. I cannot vow for now that he ever sat to think his problems.
But what I know is that the only one thing that can drive a man from moving from wrong to wrong in defence of his immorality is undiluted greed and hot ambition. One does not advise a child not to grow long tooth he is only told to grow big and long lips with which he can cover the tooth.
As if under a spell, while Nigerians are still trying to adjust from the upset caused by his involvement in so many other fraud related issues, other more mind-boggling ones continue to emerge robbing particularly on the integrity of even all members of the Senate. Whichever manner his colleagues chose to handle some of these would not only reflect on the nation’s powerlessness in curbing corruption but further plunge the nation’s image and portray us in the manner our neighbours see us.
The truth is that the Senate President (I have always refrained to address to him as such) is due a day of reckoning. Whether that has come or if today’s foment is just its prelude may appear of intense short-term speculation, but that day will come no matter how hard he tries to delay it. One can kidnap power but for a moment, to last, power must be something given by others.
Perhaps it is not only in Kwara alone that people have built some erroneous perception about Senator Saraki. Nigeria also is caught in this confusing web. We confuse pride and arrogance with self-confidence and failed to see Senator Saraki as a man with an exaggerated opinion of his modest endowment. To many, he can be a man of success but not one of value. We mistake weakness for courage. A Senate President with no opposition is a Senate President with no good purpose. He can manage to save the moment but would fail to preserve the future.
Our drift as a people in this country is linked to the fact of our inability in recent times to produce statesmen and people with vision. In Nigeria today, politics is money and money is politics. The surest way to enrichment is through political office. While incumbency itself has become everything, to lose office is to lose almost the only means of survival as well as immunity from prosecution. In fact the manner our political leaders lie on oath is mind shattering. This perhaps may be due to the absence of a general knowledge of what constitutes lying on oath, otherwise called Perjury.
According to law, the punishment for lying on oath is severe. Prescribing, Section 118 of the criminal code, ‘Any person who commits perjury is liable to imprisonment of 14 years’. Also of note, Section 120 of the code provides that ‘Any person who with intent to mislead any tribunal in any judicial proceeding – (1) fabricates evidence by any means other than perjury or counselling or procuring the commission of perjury or (2) knowingly make use of such fabricated evidence is guilty of felony and is liable to imprisonment for seven years’. The laws are there but no strong will to enforce them.
The absence of moral leadership in our politics and other endeavours have seriously accounted for our sudden slide leading to the emergence of dregs and morally bankrupt individuals parading as leaders. I have for long joined others in canvassing for a more critical political reform such that will make the sittings of the National Assembly part-time not because of the culture of political rascality and impunity that we have been witnessing in recent times but the nature of politics we practise that makes the entire process expensive, stifling the participation of honest persons and making election a do-or-die affair.
Leadership by example matters in matter of moral regeneration. Even though they failed in some instances, leaders of the First Republic still managed to bequeath us some enduring practices and lessons. Whether we liked it or not, a subtle national struggle is certainly underway. The outcome of this will determine whether modern technology joins with human social knowledge and understanding to forge a better nation where poverty is less jarring and wealth more equitably shared or will technology be perverted by twisted ambition to bring severe hardship on the nation.
In the meantime, Nobel Prize since 1901 has been honouring men and women from all corners of the globe for outstanding achievements in all departments of human endeavour and it will only add more if members of the Nigerian Senate are considered for similar recognition in the art of stealing, looting, certificate forgery, lying on oath etc. Anyway, all that is solid often melts into thin air and the end of all struggles is the struggle to end well.
Kwara gubernatorial focus for 2019: Back to the original matter of this piece. Kwara’s political landscape is in a frenzy of some sort. People of horrible characters, quacks, opportunists and charlatans have been traversing most communities in Kwara subtly soliciting support for their gubernatorial ambition come 2019. While more of these people for now come from the ruling APC, others are from the opposition parties. First, I admit that there is nothing bad or wrong for anybody to aspire to neither higher office nor nurse or have ambition for it. It is a normal human condition to dream big and lofty. But at this time of Kwara’s search for able and responsible leadership, we cannot afford to equate our ideological instability to anything more tragic.
To surrender our collective destiny into some shady hands can be suicidal. The fact that colonialism, slavery and the iniquities of yesteryears combine to lay the groundwork for our political economy that allows blighted leaders to flourish, call us all to order, attention and care. It cannot and should not be a matter of chasing the fox away and returning to give the errant chick a good hiding.
We would chase the fox away but may return to find a monster. Of all the names being paraded none among them possess any leadership quality of Kwara’s dream. To think of any of them at this juncture is to condemn ourselves to failure. Any of them can be worst than Senator Saraki or Governor Ahmed. As there can be ruthless civilians so can be compassionate soldiers. The trouble with aspirants of this ilk is that they pretend for now to care for the people but their desire is to rule the state and not lead the people and this desire is wrapped because they see the people and the state as disparate things. The people are mere props, objects of servitude.
In Kwara, the beauty and importance of democracy is not found in the ritual of holding elections as the solemn expression of the people’s will. It is more of giving the people the tiny mercy of selecting their instrument of suffering. If an election is but a choice between the jackal and the hyena- then there is no choice at all. Most of these men waiting to jostle for the governorship office are just ’owanbe, jankara and bole kaja stuff, empty with no minds of their own.
Some of them because of their modest achievements and over bloated perception and with little money at their disposal, the volume that Senator Saraki can afford to lose to other brigands, now want to the take opportunity of our backwardness to hoodwink the people again. Because Kwarans are poor, hungry and naive does not infer that we don’t know the kind of leadership that the people need. We should be wise enough this time to distinguish between those that can lead us and those angling to rule us.
Already majority of these names have demonstrated to us what they can do with our money if put in their custody. Kwara has reached a point where it should not allow the deepness of an individual’s pocket to determine the collective destiny of her people. We have experienced this before and that led us all to where we are today. What Kwara require now is a visionary leader, one with wisdom and smartness laced with simple grasp of what is necessary and logical and not one that would take the advantage of power to poke our buttocks with hot red iron.
I still look back with nostalgic fondness usually reserved for viewing an old photograph of an old girl friend as to when Senator Saraki first emerged in Kwara politics in 2003. Regrettably what eventually came on the heels of his ascendancy to power was not like a zephyr gently touching on the wings of flattering butterflies. It, in no time translated to a tidal wave cascading with piranha. Kwara should not be deceived by their ‘big’ names or ‘effrontery’ to announce their intention to contest for such office.
Both Senator Saraki and Governor Ahmed have innocent and boyish looks but what eventually turned out is anybody’s regret. They all wear pretentious looks. In our eyes here in Kwara we saw how lavishly some of them celebrated their birthdays and wedding ceremonies in the midst of poverty stricken people with dollar and other foreign currency denominations flying at the party venue. We have also seen how they have built fallacious houses as if to live only and never to die. We also have seen how they all live in opulence. Even if poor men do not make governors, the rich make the worst and non-performing governors.
Kwara cannot and should not be made to move from flame to fire. We need caution and care. If we live in a house and assume the house is in a city but the city has degenerated to a wild forest where jackals rule and roam the streets, the option open to us is to shut and bolt the doors and windows or else we would be devoured.
Governance is a serious business that required good and deep knowledge of both the people and the economy and cannot be left in the hands of people who just want to be governor for that sake. The problem of Kwara is grave. Come 2019, Kwara needs a sensible leadership, strong leadership and honest leadership. None of those whose names are being mentioned have demonstrated they have any of these qualities. What they have displaced so far is their inability to know that there are limits to politics without territorial integrity. Because the late Dr. Olusola Saraki failed to define for us standard for good and worse does not mean that we cannot set the rules of engagement.
Come 2019, Senator Saraki would always want a marionette to occupy Kwara Government House. And since we cannot tell for now what his worst candidate may look like in future, at least, we already know that Governor Ahmed was his best he could offer Kwara.
At the twilight of former President Jonathan’s administration, academics and politicians waxed poetic about the wind of change that would overtake the nation spreading the seeds of democracy and reform. Even though I was partially optimistic, I said in Kwara, it would be hunger optimism masquerading as intelligent study. Wind does not bring change. It brings only wind. Social change begins and ends with the real people. Even if the wind influences political fortunes, it failed in Kwara.
It is rather lamentable that Kwara is passing through an inglorious era. If her present leaders pretend to be deaf and blind, what about the shameful roles and voluntary blindness of their supporters. It is the loss of faith in the system that has resulted in apathy and what is usually taken as tolerance is in fact apathy. But we must warn them. Where a people are denied their political and economic rights by a few, a time will come when those in power and their cohorts will not be able to enjoy their ill-gotten wealth.