The Code of Conduct Bureau Trial: What Saraki is Hiding?
By Oluwaseyi Oduyela/Washington, DC
In September 2015, the government of Buhari, through the Code of Conduct Bureau pressed corruption and false assets declaration charges against Dr. Bukola Saraki, President of the Nigerian Senate and chieftain of the ruling party, Alliance of Progressive Congress (APC). Since the beginning of his trial, Dr. Bukola Saraki has maintained his trial is a persecution and that Asiwaju Tinubu is responsible for his arraignment and trial. Although Dr. Bukola Saraki’s trial is politically motivated, but he’s deliberately accusing the wrong person for his predicament. The problem now tearing the ruling party, APC apart has been part of the foundation of the Alliance. Let’s start from the birth of the Alliance.
It is no news that APC is a conglomeration of 3 political organizations- the Action National Congress (ACN), the Buhari-led CPC and Bukola Saraki-led PDP faction. A reliable source within the APC disclosed that positions were zoned. Presidency to CPC, vice presidency to ACN and Senate presidency to PDP. The PDP faction of the Alliance zoned it to North Central. Obviously with the influence and manipulation of Bukola Saraki who has been eyeing the position. After the general election, Tinubu backed George Akume based on their past relationships as governors in the beginning of what they called the third republic. Tinubu did not hide his preference for Akume over Bukola Saraki, but Mr. Buhari would not have any of that. According to my source, contrary to what Buhari said about not having anything to do with the National Assembly politics, he favored zoning the Senate presidency to North East, where he got the most votes in the general election as a compensation for their support, hence Lawan was put forward as a Senate Presidency candidate. Dr. Bukola Saraki disagreed based on the Alliance previous arrangement and he decided to contest the new party instruction. With a bloc-vote from his PDP friends within APC and PDP members of the Senate, he was so sure of defeating Lawan. In reverence to Buhari’s new position, Tinubu convinced George Akume to step down for Lawan, which he did. Saraki sought audience with Tinubu and persuaded him to support him or be neutral but Tinubu insisted on party decision. Saraki eventually won the Senate Presidency election.
Saraki’s action was viewed as a direct challenge to the party’s leadership, unfortunately, Buhari’s endorsement of the election caused a big embarrassment for the party and its leadership. It was a serious moral dilemma for the leadership because the party during their alliance meetings had zoned the Senate Presidency to the North Central until Buhari changed it to the North East and after the coup of Saraki, the party to come together to correct the wrong and the man who caused the confusion created another confusion by endorsing the National assembly officials’ elections despite his claim of neutrality. Since then, the party APC lost his national voice and became an opposition party to itself.
In mid-September of 2015, the Code of Conduct Bureau came up with corruption and false declaration of assets charges against Senator Bukola Saraki. Before this time, Saraki’s wife was invited to the EFCC more than 5 times for interrogation. Few weeks to the Code of Conduct Bureau charges, Saraki in the company of Dino Melaye and some other Senator were in the US on an “official assignment” to the UN headquarters but he also visited Washington DC where he met Nigerians and alleged that the Buhari government is planning to frame him for corruption. Few weeks after the arraignment, Buhari sent the list of his Ministerial Nominees to the Senate for screening and approval. Surprisingly, of all the names sent to the Senate none were names recommended by Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu. President Buhari, rejected all Tinubu’s nominees.
The Minister of Justice, Abubarkar Malami was the chairman legal team of Buhari’s CPC campaign in 2011. Adamu Adamu, the Education minister, is a CPC member, Shitu the Communication Minister is also a former member of CPC, Audu Ogbe had been Buhari’s friend for a long time. Fashola, and Fayemi were not Tinubu’s nominees. Kemi Adeosun became the Finance Minister through Ibikunle Amosun, Ogun State governor and an ally of Buhari since the ANPP era. Tinubu’s nominee for the Finance Minister position was Wale Edu, it was Wale Edu who recommended Kemi Adeosun to Amosun for commissioner appointment and Amosun went Behind Tinubu to recommend Adeosun to Buhari. According to my source, Buhari did not choose one out of about 10 names sent to Buhari by Tinubu for Ministerial appointment.
It is not a rumor that there is no love lost between the president and his benefactor, Tinubu. Tinubu was conspicuously absent during the Ogun State 40 years anniversary; though Tinubu was in Lagos to welcome President Buhari, he declined to attend the ceremony despite Governor Amosun’s pleas. Few minutes after welcoming Buhari, Tinubu flew out of the country to London.
Since the beginning of the trial, Dr. Bukola Saraki has not come denied any of the allegations against him rather, he has been blaming individuals for his woes. He has particularly singled out Tinubu and avoided the mention of Buhari as the source of his woes. It is obvious that the government of Buhari is behind Saraki’s trial and not clear why Saraki keeps avoiding attacking Buhari. Buhari and Saraki are close or were close before now. In fact, a source disclosed that Saraki managed Buhari’s campaign finances during the election. This scenario was a replay of the power politics between former VP Atiku and former House of Representative Speaker Ghali Na’Abba. Na’Abba fought to keep his post as the Speaker for the period he held the position and he blamed the attempts to remove him on Obasanjo. Playing the tribal politics worked well for Na’Abba and he won sympathy of most northers. The truth then was that, it was Atiku who wanted Na’Abba out at all cost. Why would Atiku want Na’Abba removed then? Atiku is from the North East, and Na’Abba is from the North West. With Na’Abba position position against Obasanjo, this has positioned Na’Abba for possible presidential candidacy against Atiku’s ambition. Although, the money that was displayed on the floor of the House of Representatives as bribe from the presidency was not true and not up to 2.5M it was true that House Members then were offered 150M Naira to impeach Na’Abba while they asked for 30M Naira more.
During the last National Assembly election, money played its role too. Some members of the House of Representatives received 5M Naira each as allowance to settle down in Abuja since the government of Buhari was not coming forth for such allowance. At least 177 members received the 5 M naira cash donation. A member who received disclosed that as the time he got, he was number 177 on the list.
It is obvious that the mastermind of Saraki’s trial is Buhari who is attempting to kill two birds with one stone. Convict Saraki of corruption and redeem his government’s image of fighting corruption and get even with Saraki for defeating his (Buhari) candidate for the Senate presidency position.
Will Saraki’s conviction boost Buhari’s image as a fighter of corruption? Who is actually winning? Who has the upper hand?