(First published in print edition on October 12, 2015)
It’s now threadbare fact that Senate President Bukola Saraki is being hunted. He’s a political shark, no doubt. All the more reason why he has become hotcake for political hunters. “Shark,” as I wrote in June, “is a dangerous animal. It is feared by animals in the sea, animals in the sky and even man, the greatest predator. In fact, it is regarded by many as the world’s deadliest animal, being an apex predator, a predator residing at the top of sea food chain on which no other creature hunt or eat.”
But Sharks sometimes turn preys. Saraki didn’t note that part of my piece. Shark, I had cautioned, “although feared by all, are nonetheless among the most hunted animals. Herein lies a lesson for Senator Saraki. He needs to tread most softly. There is a banana peel near his seat. Tinubu, like him, is a tenacious fighter. Being a shark creates awe, so does it create danger.” But, obviously, he didn’t take my advice then.
So he galloped on. Like a white horse shark. Having outfoxed his fellow legislators, his party, and even the President, General Muhammadu Buhari, he felt indomitable. Didn’t he defeat his own father, the Oloye of Kwara politics? Didn’t he war against his former party, the PDP, and supervened? And he is now Senate President, after all machinations against him.
Who else can stop him? You don’t kill a snake by cutting its tail off. You need to separate its head from the rest of the body. So he refused to read a letter from his own party on the floor. If he could confront PDP that was larger than life, why not APC? While the Speaker of the House of Reps, Yakubu Dogora, cowered before the party and appointed principal officers in line with its recommendation, Saraki proved impregnable.
I heard he even dared the president. He told his friends that Buhari had exhausted his arsenals. He was going to revenge EFFC’s trial of his wife. He must unleash his weapons. He planned to ambush PMB during ministerial confirmation by the Senate. And other areas. But Buhari, though not a typical politician, has an awe-inspiring one besides him. The Jagaban. Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
Now Buhari has sent the nominees for his cabinet. And, as expected, Saraki has set up seeming insurmountable huddles before most of them. They must be endorsed by at least two Senators from their respective states. So how will Amaechi scale through? While the Senators have already put up petition against him! What about Fashola? Ngige???
So Saraki had it all thought out. But he may as well be mistaken. I don’t think they are strong bargaining chips for him. Buhari, I think, doesn’t want these politicians at all cost. He may not even want them at all. He has said as much. Hear him: “The civil ser¬vice provides the continuity, the technocrat. And in any case, they are the people who do most of the work. The min¬isters are there, I think, to make a lot of noise, for the politicians to make a lot of noise. But the work is being done by the tech¬nocrats”.
Buhari thus made his mind known. Ministers are noisemakers. The civil servants are all he needs. The constitution and his party are tying his hands. That’s why he sent the list to the Senate two weeks ago. He has ruled for about 5 months without ministers, despite public complaints. If the Senate decides to stall the approval for the ‘noisemakers’, then good for him. Saraki will only be helping him.
Buhari, it was said, has vowed to end his political career. If the embattled senate president has always come out of previous imbroglios and battles, he’s just opened a new chapter of his life. A chapter filled with sad tales. Buhari, finally, bares his fangs! If Tinubu is a lion and Saraki a shark, well, he is a rhino. Rhinos are not trouble shooters. But could be deadlier than a shark. And even a lion can’t dare it. It is so strong that it can knock over a vehicle with people inside. That is the mammalian Saraki chose a fight with.
Already, against his expectation, the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) has refused to stand down his case of false declaration of assets. His effort to run to the Federal High Court for protection was rebuffed by the CCT. The Tribunal would not listen to the high court’s pronouncement. It said it is equal in authority with the court. Even Saraki’s attempt to seek refuge in the Appeal Court was futile.
Politics is a dirty game, regardless the country it is played. But in Nigeria, it’s more than that: It’s the devil’s game. Saraki, I’m sure, knows this already. Otherwise he wouldn’t come this far. But will he go farther from here? It depends. Will he forsake his presidential ambition? Will he divorce the PDP? Can he convincingly prove that to Buhari and APC? How can he give restitution for the things he denied the duo at the National Assembly? These factors will largely decide his fate. When sharks are threatened by thunderstorm, they move into deeper waters. They don’t dare the storm. Except their days are up. Saraki should learn from that.