By Abdulwahab Oba
It is a sweet victory! Like it’s commonly said, today if a thousand men were to ride on their horses and make our tummy their thoroughfare, they will meet no barrier; it will be for them a smooth, straight and fun-filled trip.
The decision by the highest court in Nigeria dismissing the politically-motivated persecution of Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki through the Code of Conduct Tribunal has undoubtedly thrown all of us, his admirers, into wild jubilation. We are happy because it is not a reprieve for the man who inherited the sagacity of the late Waziri Ngeri, Dr. Olusola Saraki, but an affirmation of his stand on truth, fairness and justice, for which that deceased soul was noted for, in the political calculations that brought the ruling party into power.
We are all well informed about the charges against him, and while his enemies never gave him a chance to survive the judicial onslaught, the men of conscience whose role it is to arbitrate in matters of conflict, dismissed all the allegations and declared Saraki a free man; free like the bird, I dare say!
The case took well over 1000 days to conclude and if it were in other climes some public officers would have to answer why enormous public fund and resources were deployed to the prosecution of a case that brought nothing but failure and shame to the federal government team. Of course, the prosecutors knew, ab initio, that it was a no case submission. They had no case against the son of Waziri ngeri; the Turaki Raya kasa of Nupeland is a man of honour. Enyioma Ikeduru of Igbo land inherited honesty and obedience to the rule of law from his father whose only political philosophy is the masses, the masses and the masses.
The conclusion by the jurists of the Supreme Court is very significant to an understanding of the reality that surrounded the allegations against the Senate President, and which reality surrounds several other so called high profile cases in Nigeria today, particularly against members of the opposition. The revered men pointed out that the prosecution had no material witness to prove its case against Saraki. That means that all the noise in the media about the case was mere grandstanding! Lobatan!
When would the Nigerian system learn to do diligent investigation before prosecution and before announcing the suspects? And perhaps we should put it more succinctly; when would Nigerian political power wielders learn to avoid using the judicial trap for their enemies? I raise this issue because at the end, it is the masses that really suffer the consequences. Let me make this clearer by an excerpt from the statement by the Senate President reacting to the decision of the Supreme Court: “…Instead of working together in the interest of the nation and to seek to do better for our people, we are fighting one another and using legal instruments to mount baseless accusations against one another. Instead of exhibiting the need for unity and working day and night for that purpose, we are stoking the fire of division and rancour. I maintain that above all else, my CCT trial has been a flagrant vilification of my person, and shows that some people are after their personal interests rather than the national interest
“As a result of the war of attrition, various arms of government have wasted resources needlessly. It has been three wasted years across board in this country. Three years that would have been devoted to tackling issues affecting Nigerians, including: economic recovery, insecurity, youth unemployment and strengthening national institutions – were wasted on malicious prosecution. People were ready to trade off three years that would have been devoted to fostering cooperation, unity and economic progress for their selfish ends.” Gbam!
Do you see that, “People were ready to trade off three years that would have been devoted to fostering cooperation, unity and economic progress for their selfish ends..?” That is where our problem as a nation currently lies; the readiness of a few in the corridor of power/ influence to trade off the wellbeing of the common masses in order to achieve their personal interest. When shall we learn? When shall truly we have true statesmen in this nation? Justice has no boundary. Justice remains the only solution to economic stagnation. It’s the only solution to insecurity. Justice is the only way to fight corruption. Without justice for all, there can only be motion without movement.
As for Saraki, it is clear he has been justified. From the very first day of the trial he had told Nigerians it was a political set-up. And for him to have survived those days of the knife-wielding, nerve wrecking prosecution over nothing, it shows clearly the kind of personality behind his gentle and innocent look. We must commend him for the maturity he displayed throughout the trial; not once did he miss his assignment in the Upper Chamber, except when attending the court sessions. Not once did he miss to sit with his traducers in the course of his duty; he clearly separated his battle from his work as President of the Senate and his role as chairman of the National Assembly.
And when the nPDP crisis began to surface and men of little minds came out to say the factional group was negotiating his release from the CCT trial as precondition for their stay in the APC, he came out to deny such claims and found support in the voice of the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, who was leading the Federal Government side in the dialogue, to say it was a blatant lie concocted by enemies of national progress.
We need men like Saraki; men who have learnt to separate their battles from their official functions; men who can withstand the heat in the kitchen and bring out fresh bread from the oven. Despite his trial and travail, Saraki has led the 8th Session of the National Assembly to become the most productive set of legislatures we have had since 1999. His enemies may not agree, again, but the facts are there and will continue to speak to the truth of the assertion.
We must salute his resoluteness. Some others would have capitulated at the height of the trial; after all, the position over which he was being persecuted in reality does not belong to any man permanently. He could have accepted the blackmail but the stain would have become difficult to wash off for his enemies would just do like all blackmailers; wait for another opportunity time to raise the issue and silence him. It would have been his end, politically.
Nigeria needs men like Saraki, men who are not afraid to dare in order to succeed. We need men who are bold enough to demand what is theirs by right of association and covenant. The entire crises began because Saraki dare to succeed within a system that has arrogated to itself the right of determining the fate of men even when they are not God. He stood up for the right of his group, the nPDP to have a visible stake in the affairs of a government they all laboured and invested time, energy and resources to bring on board but which a few had suddenly decided was their personal estate to be ruled as they wished. If others kept mute but grumble in silence, the Turaki of Ilorin will not because he believes only God is absolute. He relies only in God, the masses and the incorrigibility of the men in the apex court and other courts of the land.
Today, Saraki has been justified; the shackles have been removed; the burden has been lifted and he can walk the streets of Nigeria a free man he is. But can his traducers? They must bow their heads in shame for the trauma they took us through. Forever!