Is APC’s fence mending overtures coming too late for Saraki?


The recent verdict of the Supreme Court exonerating Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki of alleged false charges and anticipatory declaration brought against him by the Federal Government has had huge impact on the fortunes of the ruling All Progressives Congress, altering calculations of political analysts on the 2019 race. HEAD POLITICS, MUMINI ABDULKAREEM writes further on the issue.

For die-hard apologists of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, the political development in the polity in the last few weeks can only be imagined.

For a party that cruised to electoral victory from “nothingness” to sack an incumbent in an historic election and controlling nothing less than 25 states in the process, the turn of event and its political fortunes lately says much about the unpredictability of the present process.

The issue surprisingly has also attracted commentaries from unexpected quarters in support of the person at the centre of the whole drama, Dr Bukola Saraki.

For the Senate President, the event leading to the apex court pronouncement though was a huge relief, it signals the extent and determination of some forces in his “party” and the “presidency” went and are ready to go to nail him by all means for nothing other than perception of his as being “too ambitious” as if that was a crime in the first place.

The whole scenario started to get very interesting in the books of analysts when the Federal Government surprisingly initially appealed the judgment of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), which cleared Saraki of all the eighteen count charges levelled against him in the first instance.

The action of the Federal Government in the face of huge political implication the issue would have had on the Senate President in the midst of deafening silence maintained by the president and his party while the trial lasted took the issue to another precedence considering the narrative on ground regarding the trial of former Lagos state Governor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

According to some analysts, Saraki’s political opponents were really interested in ensuring he was sent to prison and jailed, banned from politics for ten years and stripped of all political positions as stipulated by the law and thereby ending his political career. How would one consider all these coming at the expense of his huge role, goodwill and resources he mobilised to bring the party and the president to power. In spite of these huge implications, the forces pursued his trial with vigour and verve riding on the nobody-is-above the law mantra mouthed by his party to whip peoples sentiment.

In the process, all the court process filed by Saraki in various courts in the country to get justice was criminalised by his opponents with the support of section of the media acting the script of some powers that be.

However, while this lasted, huge calls for political solutions to the issue by some top party chieftains by the leadership of his party led to the president were reported as if the Senate was looking for a soft landing to negotiate with some leaders of the party who appeared not comfortable with the number three position he occupied against the wish and presences of the party’s candidate.

It was in the midst of this abandonment that the apex court relief came and within few days after the judgment, the once rejected Senate President falsely accused of corruption had become the “cornerstone” for the survival of his party and re-election bid of President Buhari.

While many narratives blamed the ousted tenure of former chairman of the party and one time governor of Edo state, Chief John Odigie Oyegun for allowing the crisis in the party with dotted lines across nearly all states in its control to fester to this “breaking point”, the grandstanding posture of the new chairman and labour czar, Comrade Adam Oshiomhole appears to be adding more salt to the injury. If anything, some commentators see it as a wrong signal and that the APC has unfortunately not learn from its own very recent history where it toppled the then incumbent government of former President Goodluck Jonathan against doubting indices.

In fairness to the comrade’s governor, since his coming on board, he had made some spirited attempts to stop Saraki from defecting. He has engaged the leadership of the Senate and also scheduled various close-door meetings with the Senate President with the intent to stop Saraki’s defection, but all the efforts appears to be coming too late and the question many interested players in the political chess game are asking is whether Saraki will reason with his “party” and bail it out of a major catastrophe.

After it appears Oshiomhole efforts are crumbling, the gathering at Saraki’s country home in Ilorin with top politicians from other opposition parties during the Fidau for the late mother of the former chairman of the new PDP, Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje was one that sent shivers down the spines of the ruling APC. And to underscore the import of the situation on the party, with the consequence of Saraki’s imminent departure at the back of its mind, the President was urged by some governors to beg Saraki himself in a bid to get him rescind his decision to dump the party he laboured and toiled to build. The eventful meeting of Saraki with the Vice President present among other governors came as a surprise to many especially after Buhari’s initial decision not to wade into the matter despite several requests by the nPDP and aggrieved party members to meet him on issue of alleged marginalisation and persecution.

Although Saraki’ tsunami had began to hit the ruling party with the defection of the 14 Senators and 32 members of the House of Representatives, he has not officially defected to the PDP as many are suggesting. But whether he will accept his party’s olive branch in the midst of strong comments by his people back home noting that even if he (Saraki) remains in APC, they will not stay with him is another issue all together.

Commenting on the issue, a member of the Kwara state House Assembly, Hon Funsho Abodunrin said it was a blessing in disguise for the scion of Saraki dynasty not to have accepted all the political solutions that were proposed and suggested by even his supporters to end the trial then.

While speaking with Pilot Politics on the issue, he said, “Sometimes God works in ways that we think is detrimental to us but at the end of the day, His action will be greatly to our advantage. Thank God that Saraki did not allow or succumbed to the proposal of finding a political solution while the trial was still in court. If he had agreed to that, his enemies and the forces against him would have tried to blackmail him with it now claiming that if it was not for them, he would have been sent to jail and they would have use that to suppress him. But look at how God has vindicated him today. It shows that God is on his side and our side in Kwara concerning our leader’s issue. And we will continue to pray and wish him well to continue to triumph above his enemies whether political or otherwise”, he added.

Reacting to the issue, the TVC Head of News, Babajide Otitoju, who has understandably been a strong critic of Saraki, surprised his audience in one of his episodes of journalist Hang Out when he hinted that the APC made a mistake with its treatment of Saraki on the matter.

According to him “For a senator to have influenced the defection of about 14 senators and over 30 House of Representatives members is not a mean feat and testifies to the influence of Saraki in the country’s politics. And giving his massive ability to mobilise fund within very short notice, the permutation for 2019 will no longer be the same. Will another history be made in next year’s election? Whether he contest, defect or not, Saraki has emerge as a key figure in that narrative and whether the presidential summon by Buhari to stop further Saraki influenced defection has jelled with the NASS members remain to be seen.

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