By Abayomi Adesola
The recent besieging of the house of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, by men of the Nigeria Police Force when he was set to appear at the office of intelligence response team (IRT) in Abuja over the April robbery incident that took place in Offa, Kwara state, can only be a milestone in his tumultuous journey to fame.
Saraki was apparently invited to answer to allegations against him in connection to the Offa robbery which claimed many lives. Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, had in a letter dated July 23 and addressed to the Senate President, asked Saraki to be at its Intelligence Response Team (IRT) Guzape Abuja office at 8am on Tuesday “for further investigation”.
The siege on the Senate President’s house, reports have it, was carried out to prevent him from appearing before the police following a summons on him to so do. Saraki himself has dismissed the police invitation as a political game, intended to intimidate and force him to remain in a party that revels in criminalising its members.
Surely there is truth in the saying that anyone who desires to stand with the people and also become great in politics and any other good endeavour must pass through the furnace of severe adversity from the beneficiaries of the old order. The likes of Nelson Mandela, and other great men we celebrate in Nigeria and Africa today have at one point of their lives went through political persecution from the state, it only made them heroes and legends even after their demise.
Saraki’s various travails and misery in the hands of the state, in spite of the successes by the judgment of the Supreme Court few weeks ago, looks unending. In the face of all the travails, the tormentor, obviously agents of the State, thought they were causing him harm, unknown to them they were doing him more good by increasing his popularity and pushing him out of his closet as a North-Central champion to a major player in national politics and by extension global limelight.
No doubt Saraki’s popularity, political dominance and prominence is increasing by the day, truth is, his personality has attracted more political admirers and followers across the nation than in 2011 when he stepped out of office after two successful terms as the Governor of the state of harmony and in 2014 when he was just one of the 109 members of the red chamber.
The question to ask is, what influence would Saraki’s personality wield on the forthcoming 2019 presidential elections? This seems to be another question any politically discerning Nigerian can provide adequate answer to. In 2011 when he had less national influence, Saraki was a big deciding factor of where the North Central votes tilted to. In 2015 his departure from the ruling PDP, where he led a bloc of the party to the newly-formed APC then, cost Jonathan and the PDP the election.
Now history is repeating itself again, but on a larger scale. Saraki now sits atop as the number three citizen of the nation, with more power, more influence, greater political and national prominence, slightly second only to the President’s.
Political pundits have been going round town speculating on the great disaster that will befall the APC should Saraki repeat what he and the N-PDP bloc did to the PDP in 2014. This is laughable; they are no doubt on a wild goose chase. What they have failed to do, like those who were there before them, is to tell truth, because of their vested interest, looking for crumbs from the table, and desperate attempt to portray themselves as being fit enough to step into the vacuum that would be left should the Senate President and his associates stage a walk out of the ruling APC.
Going into the 2019 presidential elections, Saraki’s electoral assets which hitherto lie in Kwara, the South West and North Central has grown in leaps and bounds and extended across the nation in the last three years. On that, he owes the APC and the Presidency a special appreciation, first for the political persecution unleashed against him since his emergence as the Senate President in 2015. Secondly, for the many challenges still facing this administration which in the last three years has compounded the nation’s woes, this is where Saraki has shown to be more presidential than the occupants of the office, with his intervention and solution to national issues like the JOHESU strike and the expedition of the NFIU bill to avoid Nigeria’s expulsion from the Egmont group. He has also made the National Assembly better that Nigeria ever had.
All these factors have culminated to crown Saraki as the poster boy of the present democratic dispensation. As it stands today, Saraki has grown to become a huge factor to consider by any serious presidential aspirant or any party desirous of winning the 2019 presidential elections, that ignoring him will be at your peril. In Nigeria today he is the most talked about politician, his proud identification with the masses have continued to earn him huge respect and acceptance among the younger generation who occupy the majority of Nigeria’s voting strength.
Among the political class across the nation, Saraki, by the virtue of his office, goodwill, impact and influence, has made more friends with political heavyweights from the South to the North, he has built a relationship as solid as the wall of Gibraltar, strong enough to unseat any party, notwithstanding the political party he decides to support.
And Saraki has said that it is important for Nigerians to know that “the discussions that I and many others of like minds are having with the Presidency and the leadership of All Progressives Congress (APC) is not about me and what I want.It involves the future of our country and her democracy. It is about making things better for our people”.
Little wonder that Saraki was recently elevated to the position of Waziri Ngeri of Ilorin by the Emir of Ilorin, Alh. Ibrahim Sulu Gambari. Waziri Ngeri of Ilorin is the traditional Prime Minister of the emirate. The last occupant of the office was the late Patriarch of the Saraki dynasty, Dr Olusola Saraki, popularly called Baba Oloye by his admirers. By the elevation, Bukola Saraki becomes the fourth Waziri Ngeri, stepping into the position left by his late father six years ago.
Many will say the continued state threat should spur Bukola Saraki and his associates to eventually leave the APC as it is presently being rumoured, if that happens, then it would be safe to start bidding the ruling party goodnight for its sun that is about to set at noon.