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BY DELE MOMODU

Fellow Nigerians, I thought the ancient tradition of nailing people considered enemies of persons or the State to the cross had long gone into antiquity and extinction, but I was wrong. The most famous crucifixion in human history was that of our Lord Jesus Christ, of course other lesser mortals have been crucified including the thieves who died on either side of Jesus Christ on the Appointed Day. I have decided to borrow this imagery and metaphor to describe what is currently happening to Nigeria’s Senate President, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki (ABS), at the moment. And it is so tragic. Before I go into the meat of my epistle, please, permit me to provide some background information on what I want to call the ABS saga.

My personal admiration for, and relative closeness to, ABS was largely influenced by two friends of mine. The first was the Publisher of Thisday newspapers, Nduka Obaigbena, while the second was the then Governor of Rivers State, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi (CRA). Several times in the years of ABS as Governor of Kwara State, I had the chance of speaking with ABS on the phone, because Nduka would always ask me to speak with ABS anytime they were together. I loved his gentle mien and comportment. We also met at functions several times and he carried himself with confidence, grace and poise. He always looked like someone so meek and mild and could easily be underrated. I actually think that is his greatest strength and weapon.

ABS was a very powerful and influential Governor. He was self-assured and assertive. My good friend, Amaechi, or CRA for short, was very close to him and he actually took over from him as Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum. Their love and synergy were very infectious. I remember one afternoon I visited CRA at the Wheatbaker Hotel in Lagos. After our meeting, I asked when he would be going back to Port Harcourt and CRA told me he would have to wait for ABS to come first. I was impressed because they had a relationship that made them look like lovebirds. I also appreciated how they combined powerfully in support of Major General Muhammadu Buhari. They gave their lives, energy and resources to the Buhari cause. Of course, one cannot ignore the epic support given by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, and some stupendously wealthy businessmen who donated generously to give Buhari a lifeline at the fourth time of asking!

I witnessed Saraki’s total commitment to Buhari and the Change Project on several occasions in his Ikoyi home. He mobilised a lot of his extensive network, especially in the business world, and they met as regularly as possible. I saw Aliko Dangote, Femi Otedola, CRA, Wale Tinubu, Muyiwa Bakare, and others brainstorm on not only supporting Buhari, but also their desire for a prosperous and safe Nigeria. They all wished and hoped that Buhari would step in as a father-figure to all and play the Mandela option in Nigeria, come to heal the wounds, unite Nigeria, provide enabling environment for business, banish the security problems and grow the economy. It was expected that the war against corruption would be fought differently and more professionally with more action and less noise, by identifying the culprits and going after their loot wherever they are kept and bring this back into the coffers of Nigeria. The old system of using the so-called anti-corruption war to witch-hunt perceived and imaginary enemies of government was supposed to be a thing of the past.

ABS provided a formidable base for Buhari during the APC Primaries in Lagos. He galvanised his entire staff of very young and brilliant guys to work sleeplessly and sort out Buhari’s logistical needs. I will never forget the dare-devilry of CRA and ABS. They played their last cards. I was an eye-witness.

After the primaries, CRA as Director General of the Buhari Presidential Campaign Organisation, and his friend, ABS, worked as if they were on a suicide mission. Their personal sacrifices inspired someone like me to give my little support for Buhari. I was also encouraged by the choice of Professor Yemi Osinbajo as Vice Presidential candidate, a man I expected to give the intellectual backing that was lacking in the Presidential candidate. Everything went well until individual ambitions and rumour-mongering crept in. People told Amaechi that he was betrayed by his friend Saraki who, as it went, told Buhari not to pick Amaechi as Vice President because of his tempestuous character. Unknown to both friends, some fifth columnists were out to destroy their beautiful tag-team so as to weaken their influence and indirectly weaken the new Presidency. There was also the talk that ABS wanted to be the Senate President desperately. Personally, I didn’t see what was wrong with anyone pursuing his dreams in life within the ambits of what is legal. After all, President Buhari himself did this and got lucky at the fourth attempt.

Let’s fast forward. Buhari won the election and we were all very elated. The next issue was how to select the principal officers of the National Assembly. Saraki obviously had eyed the Senate Presidency even before the elections were concluded. Tinubu’s camp that already had the Vice Presidency in its kitty but also wanted the number four slot for Femi Gbajabiamila as Speaker, Federal House of Representatives. Tinubu, it was alleged, similary wanted the number three spot of Senate President for his candidate from the North East Region. Members of the New PDP felt they were being left in the lurch. Interestingly, the President was playing elder Statesman by holding himself above the fray. He did not champion anybody from his CPC faction of APC for any of these Principal Offices. Meanwhile, CRA and ABS were no longer as chummy as before. Their combination would have been lethal, but their enemies had succeeded in driving a wedge between them and this was tearing them apart. It thus became a case of “everyone for himself and God for us all.”

I was in Abuja the day ABS was elected Senate President. I called on CRA and asked if he had congratulated his friend ABS, his answer was negative. We agreed to have breakfast the following morning at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja. I asked CRA again about ABS, he said he had called him. I could see the reticence and reluctance in his attitude. For me, it was okay that he managed to fulfil all righteousness. I went in to see ABS at home to congratulate him on his victory. I was not happy that ABS and CRA were no longer close. This was their biggest undoing. Those who separated them knew what they were doing; the alliance had to be weakened, and they both became like orphans. Meanwhile, Tinubu’s gamble and opening gambit in the new administration had failed to win his faction of the APC the number three and four positions. Tinubu was livid and he felt ABS was treacherously elected and must be punished severely.

Unknown to Tinubu, the cabal didn’t want such avuncular power for him, that would presumably enable him to control the numbers two, three and four positions in the new government. As a matter of fact, the cabal were all out for him. Before one could say Jack Robinson, they created a gulf between the President and Tinubu. The interaction between the two kept dwindling. Not content with that, they also launched a major offensive against the Senate President at the Code of Conduct Tribunal. The aim was to weaken the other two strong factions of the APC so the President’s confederates could hold sway in all the necessary areas of the executive and the legislature. I wrote copiously and warned about the demonisation of Saraki. I also granted an interview in the Vanguard newspaper in which I admonished Tinubu not to join in the attempt to annihilate Saraki. From available evidence, I knew the case against Saraki was very weak and not sustainable in the court of Law. All that would happen would be to send some gullible people on a wild goose chase by portraying Saraki as the greatest enemy of Buhari and the nation. The strategy worked wonders, momentarily. Saraki knew no peace from then. His assailants wanted him to resign or be removed, by fire, by force. The few of us that openly declared that his travails were political also came under savage and rabid attacks from fiendish quarters. For three years running, Saraki has been on the cross.

He eventually won his case at the Supreme Court of Nigeria. Just before then, as if suspecting he would win, his enemies had erected another cross ready for him to bear, when the Nigerian Police alleged that they had linked him to a most terrible, heinous and very bloody armed robbery case in Offa, Kwara State. The Police sounded like he was definitely responsible for the dastardly operation. The Police are best advised to rise above partisanship and conduct their investigations in a transparent manner. That has not been the case so far and the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Kpotun Idris, should not see this as an opportunity to exact revenge and pursue a personal vendetta that he believes may exist between him and the leadership of the Nigerian Senate. The sad thing in our country is that no one protects your innocence. You are tried and convicted summarily on the pages of newspapers, electronic and social media. There are more than enough people, who are not very busy, ready to carry out their nefarious attacks on you, whether innocent or not.

Saraki has suffered indeed. I don’t mind if I’m the only one willing to ask that he be allowed to prove his innocence instead of the mob attack in the print electronic and social media. What happened to our Christian and Muslim souls? What about the entrenched constitutional provision that a man is innocent until proven guilty. This debilitating bitterness will ultimately cripple Nigeria, not because Saraki is infallible, but because this kind of attitude and approach cannot augur well for our nascent democracy. This kill-and-go method to conflict resolution will hurt each and everyone of us at different stages. Buhari will leave power one day, if not next year, may be in 2023, which is just like the day after tomorrow in the eyes of God. Must we destroy everyone because of transient power. What shall it profit a man who wrecks an entire citizenry just to stay in power? Saraki’s latest headache seems easily traceable to his decision to join the Presidential race, which is not the birth-right of anybody. Whether he will actualise this decision by carrying on to the end is immaterial. The beauty of democracy is in allowing everyone to have a say and choice. When tomorrow comes, the seed of bitterness we sow today would be harvested by those close to us.

Before our very eyes, Yakubu Gowon, Olusegun Obasanjo, Shehu Shagari, Muhammadu Buhari, Ibrahim Babangida, late Sani Abacha, Abdulsalami Abubakar, Olusegun Obasanjo (again), Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, Goodluck Jonathan and now Buhari (also again), all ruled or governed. Minus Abacha and Yar’Adua, all these once powerful men are alive, but see how much almost all of them, bar Obasanjo, have diminished in status, stature and public reverence. No matter how long, all leaders, including Saraki, will leave the stage and end up the same way, unless they follow a path that will chart an enduring legacy. So why all the gra gra of gods with feet of clay? If we all remember tomorrow, we’ll pause for a moment and work on developing our nation instead of entrenching ourselves in power, as if that is all there is to life.

I need not say more…

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COLUMNISTS

Saraki and the Tragedy of Victory

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By Jude Ndukwe

Since the National Assembly elections ended in Kwara on March 9, and the current Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, lost at the polls, those who have lived in mortal fear of one of Nigeria’s finest Senate Presidents ever in history, have not relented in their infantile attacks against a man, who against all odds, wrestled official tyranny to the ground and eventually became one through whom God has preserved what is now our fragile democracy from being turned into a full blown dictatorship.

They have unleashed all manner of media attacks against the one popularly called “Oloye” by his fans, using pliable men who are obviously satisfied with being slaves, even though they are and should be living as freeborn, as long as crumbs fall for them from their slave master’s table.

To prove that Saraki was nothing but only a victim of his own rightful ambition, those who are bitterly persecuting him today under one concocted anti-corruption guise or the other, are merely doing so because they could not stand the audacity of his ambition to be Senate President against the overbearing wishes of the “Bullion Van Hawker of Bourdillon” and his coconspirators in the seat of power.

O, they wailed, they wept, they convulsed in extreme anger and could not believe that Saraki, (who used to be) a member of their party, who also had the legitimate right to be SP, beat them to the game as a master and battle-hardened politician that he is.

From then on, they marked him for destruction but he conquered them all to their dismay. Every trap set against him was neutralised with his soft speaking nature and deft political moves. He navigated their mines expertly, handling the affairs of the National Assembly with so much class that no weapon fashioned against him in the last four years thereabout prospered.

Despite being distracted with spurious court cases, phantom corruption allegations, none of which could be proven in court till tomorrow, official harassment, intimidation and desecration extending to the national assembly as an institution just to weaken and humiliate him, Saraki still kept the senate together, and will be stepping down in great glory as the “Senate President no one could remove”.

No matter what anybody says, the fact remains that Saraki will be leaving the senate as Senate President on his own terms.

The ignominy which his traducers tried their best to rub him in did not work. He was one Senate President who walked through the valleys of the shadow of death and feared no evil, for, indeed, God was and is obviously still with him.

He was professional in his approach to duty that not even for once did he allow his persecution by the executive negatively affect his sense of patriotism in the discharge of his duties.

When passage of budgets has been delayed, it was because the executive either padded the budget with mind boggling figures or that the ministries and MDAs were nowhere to be found to defend their estimates. Because they have a leader who is either bereft of ideas of how the legislature works or he still sees himself as a military dictator who must not be subjected to another institution as president, they expect the national assembly to just pass the budget “as is”. Saraki frustrated their plans to turn the national assembly to just another appendage of the executive arm, or, into a mere rubber stamp.

The Senate under him have enacted laws and passed Bills that have far reaching positive effects on our polity.

Saraki might not have won his last election, he is a victor anyway. No man passes through what Saraki was subjected to by members of the executive, survives and still see himself as a loser!

Sadly, the real losers are those who won elections in Kwara at Saraki’s expense but lost their soul and beholden to tyranny in the process.

With the incessant killings, rise in terrorism, hardship, continued displacement of communities by criminal bands, extra judicial killings by security forces, perpetually rising inflation, job losses in millions, Nigeria becoming the poverty capital of the world etc, to the extent that even the wife of the president had to, in order to exonerate her husband from the mess our nation has become under Buhari, confess that it was no longer her husband that was in charge but about three others, these hack writers see nothing in any of the nation’s misfortunes to address but their headache is a Saraki they love to hate because he beat them to their own game and that of their masters to become the Senate President.

This is where victory is tragic, for those who celebrate the ephemeral triumph of gross incompetence, ineptitude and the embarrassment our nation has become since 2015, by chasing shadows and leaving substance behind just because, to them, the country may collapse as long as they keep getting peanuts for attacking Saraki, it is most unfortunate and the misfortunes of a degraded nation is their lot!

As for Saraki, he has fought the good fight of faith. Yes, faith, because faith demands that we must stand up to tyranny even if just to prick the conscience of the tyrant and constantly remind him and his foot soldiers that all faiths abhor the vindictive imprisonment of citizens for their political and or religious beliefs as we currently have today. He can go home with pride knowing full well that when our nation was at its lowest ebb, post civil war era, he stood up to be counted among the few who used their status and political office to engage tyranny and dictatorship in a head on collision and left the senate unscathed. He is, by all standards, a fulfilled man, a winner!

jrndukwe@yahoo.co.uk; @stjudendukwe

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COLUMNISTS

Spectrum: Tragedy of too many lives

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By Anikulapo Macmillan

Sometime, death comes like a puritanical to us when we hear the news of our beloved passage. It is painful to lose family in a bizarre. And it is a bad feeling when the shock of such an untimely death comes to us as misfortune. So, an English poet, Robert Frost, wrote vividly in his poetry: ‘’ and be one traveller/ long I stood/and looked down one as far as I could/ to where it bent in the undergrowth’’
It was an event of grief when the world mourned the ill-fated airplane victims in Ethiopia. I was perplexed about the lives of those victims. And it was later in the evening a friend dropped; what I called a parcel of sadden news on my Whatapp. When I saw what he wrote; I was devastated. It was like a joke not until I saw the news spreading like a fume on twitter. That one of our columnist cum essayist had gone too soon.
Indeed the tragic news was the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 crashed six minute after take-off from Addis Ababa to Nairobi, killing all aboard, who were 157 people and Prof. Pius Adesanmi was visited by death. It is saddened to the world that we don’t pay attention to death than to giving priorities to imperfectness because this particular Boeing 737 Max 8 has once crashed six month ago.
So, unfortunate, that we lost two Nigerians, we lost two Irokos; one as an academia and the other one as a diplomat. I met Prof Adesanmi at the AKE Art Book Festival in 2015. His intelligence was overwhelming. He spoke with too much tenacity. Since then I have been following his writing and wanting to read his collection of essays title: Naija no dey carry last.
Well, death has made March to become significant. It has made the month to become a symphony to T.S Eliot’s poem, the wasteland. That March is now the cruellest month, breeding death out of land like what happened in Christchurch, New Zealand when unknown gunman killed 50 Muslims in their mosques.
When I heard this particular news on Friday and I saw the footage, I thought, it was scripted like grand theft auto game. Hence, I didn’t believe at first; and later I began to see trending news on twitter. This shows that our world is molested by racial people. Those who believe that killing is the best way to live a good life are mistakenly wrong. They have forgotten that it is not humanity.
However, let me say, that any kind of incessant killings like this or the one that happens in Kaduna over the weekend needs to be addressed not only by the government but by the whole world.
It is pertinent; that by now, the perpetrators of the New Zealand massacre have not been arrested. Are we saying no CCTV cameras in those mosques? Are they not human beings or do they come with a mask? Thank God for the Nigerian Iman, Lateef Alabi who made us to believe that the news was indeed truth.
Therefore, it is probably a theory of ignorance, when the police by now can’t identify the culprits. Yet, the world is still not finding ways to stop all kind of carnage; that is also an albatross to security policies. Well, this is not the fight of New Zealand alone because those who were killed have families. And the trauma could cause fratricidal or matricidal.
Maybe what an Italian philosopher, Antonio Gramsci said: ‘’ to tell the truth is revolutionary’’ which means, the United Nation needs to watch out for killings like this. It is awful. That people life does not mean anything anymore.
Well, in this same part of the world, it is still disparagingly wrong, that after our general election, what we should have next is what I called: blood relative in my poetry. Kaduna has become a death trap in our society. It has become a place where we mourn of envy and religion catastrophe.
Death even came like tidal wave with a tremulous wailing from residents and onlookers when a building collapsed in, Ita Faji area of Lagos Island. School pupils are mostly victims of the collapsed building. While some die, and few that survived where at the state hospital. Hence, it is so painstaking that the Lagos government and the ministry of housing are ignorantly not performing their functions. This was horrific event as many dead bodies were recovered.
So, the federal government needs to understand that causalities like this are not expected to happen in a society like Lagos. However, those pupils now have trauma of such a malign that bestow them. And the Lagos state government responsibility is to start a policy on building because the lives of those who reside in those buildings are part of the electorate.
In this vein, such a death replenished the atmosphere in the eastern Zimbabwe, killing at least 24 people. When I saw this news, I began to wonder why these tragedies come in March. Is it that the affected nations do not control their societal values? Meanwhile, the case of cyclone, In Zimbabwe and Mozambique, is that the two countries have not properly fund their weather science appropriately.
Perhaps, death that comes in March is a tragedy to humanity. It is also a worry to country like ours that we don’t know how to control our citizens and their heritage. Because I know, if our airlines are good enough, Prof. Adesanmi would have flown ours or if our country is good enough, Iman. Lateef Alabi would have stayed back than to face the gossamer of death in New Zealand.
We need to bring the country we want together and to make conversation because it is paramount to have a good system than to have death toil every month when citizens die like prey. Apparently, I think it is time we needed to provide security for our individualism— not to witness scourge.
A nation that refuses to understand the people’s welfare is already in precipice and it is a disgrace for Nigeria to fail even though her politicians are into the epiphany of misconception and all sort of imperial modulation. Still like theme of Jack London’s short story, ‘’to build a fire’’. We need not to build a fire but we need to build a monument for our country.

Continue Reading

COLUMNISTS

Spectrum: Tragedy of too many lives

Published

on

 

Anikulapo Macmillan

Sometime, death comes like a puritanical to us when we hear the news of our beloved passage. It is painful to lose family in a bizarre. And it is a bad feeling when the shock of such an untimely death comes to us as misfortune.  So, an English poet, Robert Frost, wrote vividly in his poetry: ‘’ and be one traveller/ long I stood/and looked down one as far as I could/ to where it bent in the undergrowth’’

It was an event of grief when the world mourned the ill-fated airplane victims in Ethiopia. I was perplexed about the lives of those victims. And it was later in the evening a friend dropped; what I called a parcel of sadden news on my Whatapp. When I saw what he wrote; I was devastated. It was like a joke not until I saw the news spreading like a fume on twitter. That one of our columnist cum essayist had gone too soon.

Indeed the tragic news was the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 crashed six minute after take-off from Addis Ababa to Nairobi, killing all aboard, who were 157 people and Prof. Pius Adesanmi was visited by death. It is saddened to the world that we don’t pay attention to death than to giving priorities to imperfectness because this particular Boeing 737 Max 8 has once crashed six month ago.

So, unfortunate, that we lost two Nigerians, we lost two Irokos; one as an academia and the other one as a diplomat. I met Prof Adesanmi at the AKE Art Book Festival in 2015. His intelligence was overwhelming. He spoke with too much tenacity. Since then I have been following his writing and wanting to read his collection of essays title: Naija no dey carry last.

Well, death has made March to become significant. It has made the month to become a symphony to T.S Eliot’s poem, the wasteland. That March is now the cruellest month, breeding death out of land like what happened in Christchurch, New Zealand when unknown gunman killed 50 Muslims in their mosques.

When I heard this particular news on Friday and I saw the footage, I thought, it was scripted like grand theft auto game. Hence, I didn’t believe at first; and later I began to see trending news on twitter. This shows that our world is molested by racial people. Those who believe that killing is the best way to live a good life are mistakenly wrong. They have forgotten that it is not humanity.

However, let me say, that any kind of incessant killings like this or the one that happens in Kaduna over the weekend needs to be addressed not only by the government but by the whole world.

It is pertinent; that by now, the perpetrators of the New Zealand massacre have not been arrested. Are we saying no CCTV cameras in those mosques?  Are they not human beings or do they come with a mask?  Thank God for the Nigerian Iman, Lateef Alabi who made us to believe that the news was indeed truth.

Therefore, it is probably a theory of ignorance, when the police by now can’t identify the culprits. Yet, the world is still not finding ways to stop all kind of carnage; that is also an albatross to security policies. Well, this is not the fight of New Zealand alone because those who were killed have families. And the trauma could cause fratricidal or matricidal.

Maybe what an Italian philosopher, Antonio Gramsci said: ‘’ to tell the truth is revolutionary’’ which means, the United Nation needs to watch out for killings like this. It is awful. That people life does not mean anything anymore.

Well, in this same part of the world, it is still disparagingly wrong, that after our general election, what we should have next is what I called: blood relative in my poetry. Kaduna has become a death trap in our society. It has become a place where we mourn of envy and religion catastrophe.

Death even came like tidal wave with a tremulous wailing from residents and onlookers when a building collapsed in, Ita Faji area of Lagos Island. School pupils are mostly victims of the collapsed building. While some die, and few that survived where at the state hospital. Hence, it is so painstaking that the Lagos government and the ministry of housing are ignorantly not performing their functions. This was horrific event as many dead bodies were recovered.

So, the federal government needs to understand that causalities like this are not expected to happen in a society like Lagos. However, those pupils now have trauma of such a malign that bestow them. And the Lagos state government responsibility is to start a policy on building because the lives of those who reside in those buildings are part of the electorate.

In this vein, such a death replenished the atmosphere in the eastern Zimbabwe, killing at least 24 people. When I saw this news, I began to wonder why these tragedies come in March. Is it that the affected nations do not control their societal values? Meanwhile, the case of cyclone, In Zimbabwe and Mozambique, is that the two countries have not properly fund their weather science appropriately.

Perhaps, death that comes in March is a tragedy to humanity. It is also a worry to country like ours that we don’t know how to control our citizens and their heritage. Because I know, if our airlines are good enough, Prof. Adesanmi would have flown ours or if our country is good enough, Iman. Lateef Alabi would have stayed back than to face the gossamer of death in New Zealand.

We need to bring the country we want together and to make conversation because it is paramount to have a good system than to have death toil every month when citizens die like prey. Apparently, I think it is time we needed to provide security for our individualism— not to witness scourge.

A nation that refuses to understand the people’s welfare is already in precipice and it is a disgrace for Nigeria to fail even though her politicians are into the epiphany of misconception and all sort of imperial modulation. Still like theme of Jack London’s short story, ‘’to build a fire’’. We need not to build a fire but we need to build a monument for our country.

 

@Babatunde_Mac

+2348076926109 or +2348090917041

 

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