If there ever was one corruption trial that was supposed to symbolise Mr. President’s skill and ruthlessness in fighting corruption, it was the Code of Conduct Tribunal case against the Senate President Bukola Saraki.
Being a member of the ruling APC, it was supposed to put to rest the idea that present administration was only fighting the opposition PDP with corruption trials but not his own party. But many also knew otherwise – that there were controversies with the emergence of Saraki as Senate President and those closest to him felt it was a continued ridicule of the political stature within the ruling party and in the polity at large.
In life as in politics though, the trials and travails that a person goes through sometimes determines how skillful they become later in – so it has been also with senate president– battling for his name and political career, as he tried valiantly to impress Nigerians with his performance in the Senate – to at least show that his being president is a good thing – and gosh, we’re impressed.
Personally, I am. And from observations on twitter, many Nigerians too are impressed. The Senate president legislative achievements have brought him to a point where no one argues whenever anyone asserts that this Senate is the most performing since 1999 – and as a PDP member, I don’t find such comments flattering but res ipsa loquitur – and my party will have to outdo the senate when it returns to power, hopefully with him onboard.
But it is the area of empathy and emotional intelligence that Saraki has impressed me and some others the most. At a time when the Presidency stands aloof and far removed from the travails of Nigerians, the senate president has being an oasis in the dry desert. The quickness to respond to trending issues on twitter such as ENDSARS and the phone-call placed to the family of Linda ***** who was shot by the police, the visit to the Super Eagles while on an official trip to Russia (which was followed by our only victory at the World Cup), the IDP camp visits and so much else in the recent past are endearing. It has now come to a point where many are looking up to him as President and others are calling on him to run for President.
For me, the only achievements the APC can substantially point to are from the Senate and the House of Representatives. And this brings me to the second part of this piece: is Buhari really fighting corruption and is he capable of fighting corruption?
Citing the case of Babachir Lawal, the Senate was the first to indict him as far back as September 2017 over the embezzlement of IDP funds. The presidency’s response then was a swift cover up – that his office had investigated the matter and found the man innocent. It then took several months before Babachir was suspended from office and an investigation into his matter was launched. More months have gone on since then and the report of the investigation is still not made public, neither is Babachir Lawal currently standing trial before any court, although he has been removed from office. Which then prompts the question: if the evidence was strong enough to remove the Secretary to the Federal Government from office, why isn’t it strong enough to put him in jail or in front of a judge at least?
The present administration isn’t fighting corruption but that isn’t even the worst part in all this. The worst fact is that it is incapable of fighting corruption – it lacks the mental rigour and discipline to fight it. It lacks the mental ability to build up a case thoroughly and by lawyerly skill, win the case in court. It’s only aim being to embarrass those whom it sees as opponents, the entire fight is high on speculation, propaganda and media trials. High on brawn but low on brain – a fiasco, as the senate president’s case has proven. If you had followed that case ab initio, you would have thought Saraki was a goner. But the Supreme Court finally acquitted him of all charges as the Appeal Court had done a few months back.
So why is the present administration wasting money and needlessly getting Nigerians worked up over cases that it has no evidence to prove? The manhours wasted on bringing Saraki down, the needless overheating of the polity, the money spent, the collaboration opportunities missed and so much more – all down at the expense of nation-building. If perhaps the executive had a better relationship with the legislature, maybe Nigeria wouldn’t be here.
And that is the real tragedy to us as a nation; that the present administration’s ersatz fight against corruption is costing Nigeria too much and yielding no visible results.
Demola Olarewaju writes from Lagos and is a Political Strategist.