For Bukola Saraki, the embattled Senate President, it never rains but pours. He has enjoyed a permanently stormy tenure since he went at his party's back and conspired and traded with the opposition PDP to steal and share the Senate leadership. He must be terribly disappointed that what he hoped for was not what he got. He must be distressed that what he felt was a brilliant coup has turned out to be his albatross. He must be surprised that his plan to ride roughshod over his party and secure immunity for himself through the Senate leadership is bouncing so hard on his head. He is dejected. He is distraught. He is perplexed.He is confused. He is crest fallen. Quite a pity. Saraki is facing the other side of raw, naked ambition even when he is dragging a mountain load of indiscretions which are now hunting for his head. He must have read badly of the disposition of his party and indeed the country, to put up with his conspiracy and even by the more annoying petulance he showed with his handling of the party's leadership position in the house and sharing of committee positions.

Bukola Saraki at the CCT today
Saraki's experience since he emerged as Senate President has been  unenvious. It is difficult to guess if he has had one minute to savour the victory he scored over his party since he emerged as Senate President. He had been shuttling between his hallowed seat and the mean dock. He has been mauled even in his native Ilorin and had been caricatured as a poster boy of filth and scum. He has been running from pillar to post, trying to stave off the cup that awaiteth him as the Code of Conduct Tribunal proceeds with his corruption trial.  He had engaged in endless procurement  of alibis to state that his trial was because he emerged as Senate President. He has been blaming forces which he has been cowardly to name, as being behind his travails. He has embarked in endless judicial window shopping, going round the courts in endless circles, to procure reprieve for himself but the noose tightens harder with each attempt. First, he tried to bluff his way through the Tribunal's summons but when he was starkly faced with humiliating arrest, he had to buckle and devour the humble pie to enter the dock, and he has been in the dock since then.

In recent times, we have heard his acolytes like Baraje and Timi Frank rail bitterly that his acclaimed party, APC is watching gleefully as he surely marches to the guillotine. Sure? I wonder if they believe APC should stick its neck to save Saraki with the way he betrayed and ridiculed the party. I wonder if these fellows believe that APC should warmly embrace Saraki after he conspired with PDP to rob the party of its rightful positions and has thereafter gone to constitute opposition to his party's policies; more as a trading ware to free himself from the mounting weight of indiscretions against him. Do Saraki's cronies feel that APC will block Saraki's trial after he had shown that he is a black sheep that can trade with the devil to achieve his selfish desires? Saraki's trade partners in PDP have even weighed in with the cheap blackmail that they will seize the Senate President should Saraki fall, as he is surely destined to. As hollow as that blackmail was, these traders of fortune would have been sorely battered by the APC Chairman, John Oyegun's calling off their bluff by insisting that if the APC has to lose the Senate Presidency for not saving Saraki from corruption trial, so be it.

On the day Saraki abd PDP consummated their coup in the Senate, I had written an article calling on APC to slam down on Saraki and his cronies in the party and sack them for anti party acts insisting that it would be better they defect to PDP so that APC will have the sanity it needed to run a successful regime. APC did not do that as it understandably dithered to see ways of mending the cracks within its National Assembly caucus. The golden opportunity came when Saraki showed, either through ignorance or mischief, that he was ready to serve unbridled contempt to the party by rejecting its choice as senate party leader and imposing his own choice. It was an aberration too many that the party should not have allowed. When my article was published, a friend of mine who is an editor of a newspaper called to differ from me. He was coming from the burgeoning Tinubu-phobic school that have ingrained a deep fear of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and he didn't waste time to tell me that Saraki has the blessing of President Buhari and the North in his betrayal as a way of cutting the influence of Tinubu in the party. I laughed this off because it showed a bare understanding if Nigerian politics which has reduced an average PDP man and sympathiser to vegetable for the fear of one man-Bola Tinubu. I know my friend came to the full realisation of what really happened when Saraki was running round the corners of the country and beyond to have an audience with President Buhari and was consistently rebuffed.

So, as it stands today, Saraki has exhausted all his options to evade the consequences of his actions. As much as he tries to run away from his shadow, it keeps coming right behind him and he must have resigned himself to fate. This certainly was not the pomp and glory that fired his zeal to steal the Senate Presidency. This certainly did not come in when he went and traded with the devil to acquire a seat that has now opened its jaws to devour him. This was not in tandem with the dream of a high power player he dreamed of when he went out of his way to secure the seat. It surely is an anti climax to his much vaunted deadly instinct in getting whatever he wants. Instead of being hailed and regaled as a high state official, he is being monikered as an epitome of criminality. Instead of being celebrated as a political wiz kid, he is being pummelled as an epitome of sleaze. What is more, with each passing day, more ghastly stories of corruption waft up against him both within and without the country; the latest being the Panama Paper scandal. With his senate, he continues to pile up opprobrium and contempt with controversial moves made by him and his cahoots to evade the bad fate awaiting him. From joining Saraki as a headless herd to his CCT trials to trying to amend the criminal code and CCT acts for Saraki to escape from justice, down to trying to disrupt the CCT trial by staging a dubious invitation to CCT Chairman to appear before it, further down to the suspicious purchase of luxury cars which many see as bribery gift items  to his supporters, the Senate has shown an eagerness to appropriate Saraki's personal liabilities so as to save him from justice.

All these and more have combined to make Saraki a moral cripple, an ethical wreck a huge liability and an unwieldy burden to himself and the Senate. In fact, Saraki's scruples have so infected the Senate that it now totters irredeemably on the brinks of a fatal collision with Nigerian people. The gory sight of a senate president alternating between the Senate Presidency's seat and the CCT dock has so battered the image of the Nigerian Senate that Nigerians now see it as accomplices in the many corrupt crimes Saraki is answering. The senate has chosen willingly to sink and swim with Saraki hence they have altered proceedings to suit Saraki's caprices and whims. They are like one brood of morons who have not risen to revolt against the odium where Saraki is dragging what should have been a hallowed institution to. A senate that prides to revel in the tag 'distinguished' has become so diminished that it draws contemptuous sighs abd hisses from Nigerians when mentioned. A senate that has so shamelessly surrendered its independence to Saraki's elephantine indiscretions has become a huge embarrassment to Nigerians and to itself. A senate that freely chose to appropriate many of Saraki's crimes has become a rebuke to democracy and an insult to Nigerians.  Nigerians see Saraki's Senate as a house of parody, ready to sacrifice ageless values for disposable personal idiosyncrasies and self serving interests.

But Saraki has adamantly refused to go. Somehow, there is a feeling that he prefers to go to jail as a Senate President than an ordinary senator. Even as he runs out of tricks to use to arrest his trial, he tenaciously hangs on to power and has evaded wise counsel to quit in the face of damning charges against him. He will rather he pulls the house down on him and those that have urged him on with each mishap he suffers in his efforts to stave this poisoned chalice that menacingly stares him in the face. We must call to mind that it took the conflict of identity for Evan(s) Enwerem to resign as Senate President and the bursting of his fake Toronto certificate for Salisu Buhari to resign as Speaker, House of Representatives. But Saraki is stalking and has refused to resign when more weighty acts of infraction keeps pouring in on him and when he is docked for huge corrupt acts thereby dragging the senate down with him. Any further day Saraki stays on as Senate President, he diminishes the senate more and sheds much of its waning credibility and viability. Any further day the senators bandy around him and refuse to do the needful, which is his removal, erodes the worth of the entire senate. It is true that the CCT Chairman told Saraki few days ago that he, and not the senate, is on trial but this Senate has elected freely to be on trial with Saraki so we must oblige it. The present senate has chosen self immolation because it intrinsically tied itself to Saraki's personal interests so we must grant its wish. As the senators have chosen to be diminished senators instead of distinguished senators, we will patiently endure them and wait for the final outcome of Saraki and the senate's trial as well as the next election.

Peter Claver Oparah
Ikea, Lagos
E-mail: [email protected]

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