By Abdulwahaab Oba
FOLKS, this victory is sweet. It’s a victory for democracy. It’s a victory for Nigeria. This victory belongs to the judiciary; it’s a clear testimony that our judiciary is well beyond and above premordial sentiment that he who pays the piper dictates the tune. No, it’s possible only if “he who pays the piper” is just. Justice, equity and fair play are the bedrock of legitimacy and credibility. Self-righteousness is arrogance. Only the Almighty is infallible. Every mortal is susceptible.
With the clean bill of health given to the Senate President, if a thousand men were to climb 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. Our joy over the apex court’s decision is not just undue sentimentality, but we knew the trial was persecution. Persecution because Dr. Bukola Saraki became the Senate President. Pure and simple!
The decision by the highest court in Nigeria dismissing the politically-motivated persecution of Senate President, Dr. 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 just 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 Baba Saraki was noted for, in the political calculations that brought the ruling party into power.
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 a bird. 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 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, particularly against those perceived to be against dictatorship and individualism. The revered men pointed out that the prosecution had no material witness to prove its case against Saraki.
When would the Nigerian system learn to do diligent investigation before prosecution or before announcing suspects? And perhaps, we should put it more succinctly; when would the 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.”
That is where our problem as a nation currently lies; the readiness of a few in the corridors of power to trade off the wellbeing of the common masses in order to achieve their personal interest. When shall we learn? When shall 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 wracking prosecution over nothing, it shows clearly the kind of personality that lies 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 to attend 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 on 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 legislators 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 opportune time to raise the issue and silence him. It would have been his end, albeit 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 dared 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.
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.
Mr. Abdulwahaab Oba, is CPS to the Kwara State governor.