Whatever happens in Nigeria, my first thoughts are usually with the ordinary Nigerian who had suffered untold hardship, injustice and humiliation in a nation
where they were relegated to the background by those they trusted with leadership. The people, the real owners of Nigeria have had the budgetary allocation made for their upkeep, stolen and squandered by those they elected to protect their interests.
The people continued to wish for an independent Judiciary that would usher in equality in our nation. But the executive was bent on comprising and owning the legal system in Nigeria. The voice of the people was muffled as they were too poor to purchase justice. Consequently, only the rich and the powerful could speak. They spoke with their stolen loot. They acted with impunity. Every one of them was above the law. Their cronies too, laughed in the face of the law. They defied court orders. The judiciary was at their mercy. Judges were at their beck and call. At their disposal was the people’s common wealth with which they bought or pervert the course of justice.
Now we know for sure, with the recent development that Dr. Bukola Saraki is still living in the past, with a hangover from our days of impunity when the executive openly meddled. The days when he was wanted by the Police in Abuja and he reported at Lagos instead, sending a lorry load of misinformed hungry Women from his native Ilorin to the Police Station in Abuja to protest his summons to answer some questions from the police. And then, the headlines tumbled out, “BUKOLA SARAKI CLEARED BY THE COURT….” How? We may never know how much changed hands. But that was the pattern. Under President Jonathan it was easier to shop for a corrupt judge than to shop for Johnson Baby Gel!
Dr. Bukola Saraki’s alleged sins have been unearthed by one of the institutions set up to fight corruption in our nation, the Code of Conduct Bureau CCB. So where have they been all along? The answer is clear. The CCB has been buried under the rubbles of impunity and high-handedness of subsequent PDP administrations, particularly under ex-President Jonathan. With their new found liberty, the CCB, EFCC and the ICPC have sprung into action. They have correctly read the body language of President Buhari that he will not interfere with their constitutional duties to rid Nigeria of corruption. President Buhari has no reason to interfere in the work of these bodies; after all, he is leading Nigerians in a total war against corruption. Nigerians are applauding him for this. Africa is emulating his exemplary leadership. The international community is courting us because of the rightly perceived purposeful leadership of President Buhari.
There’s is so much one man can take without cracking up. But the insinuation by the embattled Dr. Bukola Saraki that his recent travails leading up to his trial for alleged false declaration of assets, was a witch hunt and an attempt to use state institutions to fight political opponents, is very unfortunate. Nigerians were not aware that Senator Saraki was a political opponent of President Buhari as both of them belong to the same political divide. Watchers will therefore be right if they assume that he was not referring to President Buhari. It would be clearer to Nigerians if Dr. Saraki would name those who are witch-hunting him. It’s also instructive for him to note that if there was nothing to hunt, there will be no witch hunting. A man who brings home ant-infested firewood must get used to the sight of lizards in his compound.
Dr. Saraki alone knows whether the allegations of false declaration of Assets levied against him are spurious or not. The appropriate response to the allegations against him should have been either to apologise to the nation and resign if they were true, or address the nation, assuring us that he was innocent and would submit himself to the tribunal to clear his name. Either way, he needs to put our nation first by stepping aside so as to not hinder the work of the Senate. But he prefers to play the blame game.
Fortunately, Nigerians are maturing from the days of PDP when they took sides with those who blatantly disregard the laws of our land. They are calling on him to respect our constitutional institutions by humbly submitting himself to the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT and answer to the allegations against him. Nigerians now think that he has too much on his plate to function properly as a Senate President in the new Nigeria we are forging ahead with. With his wife facing criminal charges and his Business partner on the run from the law, he should do the honourable thing, as Salisu Buhari did, many years ago.
Nigerians are not going to see him heed this free counsel for one reason. Although Nigerians are united in their call for him to submit himself to the law, he has found an ally in the National Association of Nigerian Students. This is not surprising at all as the leadership of the student body, over the last few years, has been known to use their position for selfish gains. Let it be known that ordinary Nigerian Students support the Nigerian war on corruption. They were part of the mobilisation force that swept ex-President Jonathan out of office and ushered in President Buhari, a leader they believe would serve them better. They have high hopes for their future now and will not go to war for lawlessness.
Again, but not too surprising, the embattled Senator has the support of the PDP. The PDP openly making spurious allegations against the person of President Buhari in a case that has no connection to the Presidency is clear evidence that the gang of the elitist PDP in APC, is still very much in touch with home, PDP, and can never represent the interest of the ordinary people of Nigeria. The progressively annoying lonely speaker of the PDP, Mr. Oliseh Metuh, of course has accused President Buhari of meddlesomeness in a case where a Nigerian was investigated by a lawful agency and charged appropriately.
But Mr Metuh is used to working under a government that has “Meddlesomeness” as its middle name. Under the government of former President Jonathan, there was no line of demarcation between the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. The executive arm of the government of the federal republic of Nigeria essentially swallowed and controlled the legislature and the Judiciary.
Again Nigerians are not surprised that PDP would jump into such conclusions with no evidence for backup! After all, the PDP government under Jonathan was run under assumptions, gossips, innuendos and outright lies. Any wonder policy statements were made based on these? Today, it has emerged that former President Jonathan had no idea what really went on under his watch. He was conned, fed with lies continually and misled to act on assumptions and gossips.
So he presided over the worse institutional decay Nigeria has ever witnessed. Corruption became the norm. The middle class was wiped out. Poverty became a common denominator in Africa’s “largest economy”. The nation became sharply divided between the highest spenders at Heathrow’s duty free shops and some of the poorest in the world. The problem was corruption.
When it comes to corruption and the war against it, no one can point a soiled finger at President Buhari. From traditional rulers to Monarchs, from Labour Party to PDP, from clergymen to Imams, from the market traders to university dons, everyone agrees that the fight President Buhari is waging against corruption, is long overdue. Everyone but those who thrived in, nurtured and benefited from corruption, support the war against the singular evil that has perpetually kept the ordinary Nigerian below the poverty line.
For whatever it’s worth, President Buhari is doing the very best he can to bring corruption to a manageable level. Roping him in, in a case that has nothing to do with him, is the old PDP style of not calling a spade by its name. Nigerians are pleased that they now have a leader who is incorruptible and is also, willing and have the capacity to fight corruption. Dr. Saraki and PDP must leave the President alone to concentrate on the grave task of rebuilding the dilapidated nation he inherited from PDP. President Buhari does not need this distraction and thankfully, he cannot be distracted.
Lauretta Onochie; On Twitter? Follow @Laurestar
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