And so, Bukola Mesujamba Saraki’s charmed political life came to an abrupt end during the 2019 general election. Like a scary nightmare, Saraki’s political life ended just the way it began. It is certain that even with so many tell-tale signs of the fatal predilection he met in the general election, Saraki never believed that he would be crushed the way he was crushed in February and March. Come to think of it, the clearest foreboding of his impending political eclipse came last year when a candidate he sponsored for a National Assembly bye-election in his native Kwara was humiliatingly defeated in the election. Ostensibly to save face, as is traditional with politicians that want to live in denial, Saraki alleged his man was rigged out in an election that was as clear as the sun. He even went to his National Assembly to initiate a futile inquest on how his candidate was defeated in the election.
Again, leading to the election, Saraki was subjected to daily ridicule by common Kwara people who heckled and booed him at every public function and rally in Kwara. Video clips of how Kawarans chased him about with shuts of ‘ole’ ole’ made the rounds in the weeks before the election. It was so apparent that the falcon no longer heard the falconer. It was all written everywhere that Saraki would face an uphill task re-enacting his boastful legacy of being the sole determinant of who gets what office in Kwara; a noisome boast he and his chaperons were so immodest to drop at every street corner. From what ordinary Kawarns did to Saraki and his subalterns on the streets of Kwara during the campaign, it was so clear that the people of Kwara were so desperate to yank off the yoke Saraki had placed on their necks for so many years. Sorry, it was not him that placed that yoke. His father did and even as people complained of the late Saraki’s yoke, they did not do so with the repulsion and vehemence they loathed his son’s inheritance of that legacy.
When my friend, Dr. Abimbola Olufeagba told me sometime last year that he and his fellow Kawarans were determined to end the Saraki stranglehold on the state, I didn’t totally believe the possibility exists for such tall order. But as the election approached, and with my interaction with other noble Kwara people, I knew that Saraki stranglehold would be broken with an emphatic verve. What could be more emphatic than the way this task was done in the two elections held during the 2019 elections where Saraki and his cronies were dealt a total and comprehensive defeat that will resonate for years to come? It was so sweet, so aromatic, so exciting, so refreshing not only for the people of Kwara but for other Nigerians that have lived to experience the Bukola Saraki nuisance in our politics especially in the past four years.
Saraki believes he lives a charmed political life that is so impregnable that he could sleep inspite of thunder. He believes that the gods blessed him with such extra sense that he could withstand any tempest and rise from any political plot stronger. He believes that he is a special creation furnished with the faculty to last longer and flower more than anybody else in the murky waters of Nigerians politics. Even as his plot with the PDP to steal the Senate Presidency was ordinary, he believed it was a deft masterstroke only creatures like him could pull off. He believed that President Buhari’s own naïve impression about the National Assembly leadership and his quaint insistence not to intervene in the NASS leadership was his birthright, reserved for only special beings like him. I gathered that Saraki is a huge patron of marabouts and this must have strengthened his belief that the gods made him specially for Nigerian politics.
As Senate President, Saraki was a leper whose multifarious corruption indictments rubbed off so negatively on the national assembly but he cared no hoot so long as he retains his charge of the NASS leadership. Even with the humiliating scenario of a Senate President that was constantly exchanging his seats between the leadership of the national assembly and the docks, Saraki wasn’t bothered and was ready to drag the National Assembly down in one big heap of shame and infamy so long as his personal cravings were satisfied. His cravings for power was insatiable and he believes God created the Sarakis for this purpose. Saraki managed to weave through the hugely corrupt Nigerian judiciary to get himself a questionable acquittal for his corruption charges and managed to maintain his tenous hold on the National Assembly and that provided enough bullets for him to try further expeditions in the Nigerian politics.
He dreamed of being the President of Nigeria and led a band of malcontent members of the National Assembly to dump the APC for the PDP as the 2019 general election approached. This act was wildly celebrated by his supporters and members of PDP and its allies as the homecoming of the talisman, equipped with the magic to walk PDP back to power. For the many enemies of the Buhari and APC government, it was the masterstroke they need to see the back of a regime that has sat tightly on the treasury and denying them the gluttonous feast they were having before Buhari suddenly interrupted their party in 2015. Saraki basked in the light of this artificial glory. He was hoisted as the smartest politician Nigeria has produced and his mouth dripped from all corners to self-celebrate and glory himself. In the height of this glory, he even told distraught PDP members in Lagos to come for a tutorial on how they can defeat the National Leader of APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu in Lagos!
Saraki believed that he had worked hard enough to go further in politics and get the highest office in the land. He launched a presidential bid and hit the roads with his campaign that he is the best suited and the divinely ordained to lead Nigeria. He talked and boasted. He threatened and gloated. He told those that had massed around him that he possessed the talisman to see Buhari off the seat of power and restore the glory of the fallen PDP. They cheered and basked and petered confetti on him. In one of his careless talks, he boasted of how he supervised the cut in the budget for critical infrastructures as the Senate President and promised a queer Eldorado if he eventually becomes president. At this time, many members of the PDP saw him as the magician that will deliver them from the deep miasma their loss of power shoved them into in 2015 and for this, he became their instant poster boy. He relished every bit of this temporary allure as it lasted.
Saraki was to lose the PDP presidential ticket to an Abubakar Atiku who unleashed a blitzkrieg of slush dollars on PDP members at their convention to cart away the party’s presidential ticket and re-ignite the alluring past of free loading which the party supervised while in power. That was an abridgment of the assured rise of Saraki’s charmed political life but he quickly shook this off to become Atiku’s chief campaigner in his desperate bid to see the end of Buhari’s reign. He and Atiku formed a Siamese twin that were ruled by the passion to take over power from Buhari. He continued running his mouth and celebrating his genius till the elections happened and he was dealt perhaps the most humiliating defeat any politician could get when he not only lost his senate seat but had his candidate, Atiku comprehensively defeated by Buhari in his own Kwara State. What more, all Saraki’s candidates for the governorship, national assembly and state assembly elections in Kwara were summarily defeated in what could be seen as the fatal crushing of Bukola Saraki’s charmed political life. In fact, Saraki was so demolished in a manner that he will never rise again in Nigerian politics! Though he had latched unto the popular cliché of being rigged out but it is certain that he would not prove how he was rigged out which shows his limitation, contrary to the loud impression he and his supporters have created of him being the smartest politician in Nigeria. Truth is that Saraki is no more than a hare-brained and weightless opportunist who exploited the fault lines in Nigerian politics to steal the mandates of the people and gain huge from that.
At the end of the day, Saraki’s defeat should offer very great lessons to others who have been beneficiaries of the system and have refused to be humble about it. Saraki was like that legendary tiny bird that lost himself after a sumptuous meal that he challenged his god to a fight and got totally destroyed. Rather than being a story of an impregnable charmed life, Saraki’s is a story of an anti-hero who got carried away by his dubiety and eventually got disentangled. The end of the Saraki politics is a historical tragedy of epic proportion, which has been etched in the history books of Nigeria for the coming generation to learn from.
Peter Claver Oparah
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