Media Crucifixion: Who Has Saraki's Trial at the CCT Helped?

 
Senate President, Bukola Saraki
The trial of Senate President Bukola Saraki at the Code of Conduct Tribunal over a 13-count charge of false declaration of assets committed in the year 2003 while he was the governor of Kwara state started at a very low ebb in September, 2015 and it seemed like an administrative procedure that required no public attention until Saraki's refusal to honour the invitations of the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Justice Danladi Umar forced the Judge to declare him wanted. An arrest warrant was issued and the onus fell on the Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase to grab Saraki and usher him into the tribunal. 
 
The 'search' for the number 3 man of the current administration looked sensational to social media users who cured boredom by designing memes to mock Saraki. The Kwara Central senatorial district Senator later honoured the invitation of the CCT and made a triumphant entry into the dock. That was the long-awaited moment needed by Photo-Journalists to swing to action as such picture spot will sell even a stale newspaper. The following day, the entire print, electronic and online media showered attention on Saraki like Kobe Byrant on his recent retirement from basketball. Saraki's trial became the hit gist at several gatherings and you will not blame the people involved; the alleged unlisted assets of Saraki could prompt a poor man to look unto the heavens four times consecutively and ponder on his fate as a human being.
 
It's 7 months now and the Saraki saga is becoming as relevant as ever like President Muhammadu Buhari will add it to his achievement list at the end of his 4-year tenure. It has become the trending topic on Facebook and Twitter again. Saraki's letter about his alleged persecution titled: ''My Media Crucifixion: Fighting Corruption Through A Corruption'' has emerged as the hottest news of Saturday, the 23rd of April, 2016. The general public as usual have charged Saraki to their prospective 'media courts' for prosecution by unfounded laws.
 
Nigerians have been causelessly divided again into two major groups namely the Anti-Saraki and the Pro-Saraki groups with no feasible national benefits from the leadership tussle apart from the rented crowd appearing at the CCT venue with all manner of placards and banners with diverse inscriptions in support of Saraki.  Unconfirmed reports have it that they might have been induced with some hundred naira notes judging by their malnourished and unkempt appearances.
 
I am very much disgusted by the obsession of the Nigerian masses with Saraki's CCT trial because it doesn't really concern us. The war has nothing to do with the general interests of the people which the state stands for. It’s a flagrant political war with powerful political actors aiming for the golden prize of selfish interests and personal ambitions at the expense of the change-expectant Nigerians. Channeling the last bars of our phone batteries or other electronic devices in this era of highly erratic power supply doesn't cut it.
 
Saraki's trial is not a battle for democracy neither is it a dividend of Buhari's anti-corruption campaign (or else more big wigs of the APC would be cooling their heels in Kuje and preparing for court proceedings), it will never make the shameful national blackout cases in this 21st century go away, it will not fix the ailing state of the naira, it will not reduce the morale of the Fulani Herdsmen who after a holocaust in Agatu, Benue have been unleashing mayhem on other states across the 6 geopolitical zones unabated, it will not convince Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau to surrender and return the abducted Chibok girls who may one day return as 'women' if care isn't taken, it will not discourage the gas pipeline vandals and operators of illegal refineries from continuing their trade, Saraki's fate is no way tied to the social security the ruling APC promised the unemployed Nigerian youths or the 'vulnerable' not to talk of providing jobs or feeding the primary school pupils, it will not encourage the Biafra revolutionist, Nnamdi Kanu to renounce his separatist movement which is threatening the national unity of Nigeria, it will not clean up the Shiites massacre mess in Zaria, Kaduna on the reported death of 705 faithfuls especially in a time when Amnesty International is confronting the Nigerian army authorities with concrete facts about the secret burial of slain members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria in shallow graves.
 
Ultimately, Saraki's trial will never find a solution to the problem of fuel scarcity which has short-changed the electorate on the 'change' agenda they longed for.  It will not settle the budget crisis which has been lingering for like 5 months now with the clock gradually ticking against the 4-year term and several other issues associated with the Buhari's administration.
 
What point am I trying to make? The ruling party seems to be concentrating more on its selfish interests than providing the expected change. APC has affirmed the words of PDP chieftain, Bode George that the party is an experimental project that may not stand the test of time. The party has become a house divided against itself which is bound to crumble like a pack of cards. 
 
The problem started from Saraki's controversial emergence as Senate President against the interest of powerful hands within the ranks of the APC who wanted Ahmed Ibrahim Lawan from Yobe north constituency of Yobe state to fill that spot. National party leader of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Ahmed Tinubu regarded Saraki's back-breaking move as a democratic coup. Saraki's strategy of allegedly collaborating with the opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party to win the seat of senate presidency and also concede the post of deputy senate president to the opposition as part of a covert agreement was a slap on the face of the leadership of the APC.
 
The fact that Saraki also nurses a presidential ambition necessitated a need to clip his wings before he becomes invincible in 2019. Since 99.9 percent of Nigerian public office holders are fond of sharp practices, a review of their financial records could pull anybody down no matter the prior perception the public has of him.
 
Personally, I feel a 'goal-getter' like Saraki has the capability or merging the APC and the PDP together to become president in 2019 if he isn't restrained by powerful hands romancing him and his team of 90 Lawyers and 84 Senators that have reduced to 4 now.
 
It's crystal clear Saraki wrote the letter to Nigerians to attract public sympathy which is possible even though the letter seems incomplete as he didn't focus on the charges against him or how his name accidentally popped up on the Panama Papers leak which has forced some indicted people across the world to resign and other mind-boggling allegations of his heartless rape of the Kwara treasury.
 
Saraki's senate has to a large extent exposed the selfishness of the ruling class who heavily feed on the sweat of the tax payers (with a budgetary allocation of N115 billion to the National Assembly which they are not obliged to account for) to crack dry jokes during the plenary. The same senate that produced a 'white man' who is as calm as a cat in the senate but as wild as a lion on social media. A man that childishly attacks the wrong English of his followers with pride at the age of 60.
 
Saraki's senate abused some major principles of democracy which is freedom of press and expression in its bid to gag the social and online media through a bill sponsored by Kebbi South Senator, Bala Ibn Na'allah. The social media has overtime served as a viable platform through which Nigerians harmlessly express their grievances. But our so-called Lawmakers wanted to live like Emperors who are unquestionable. Again, the speedy process of the social media bill which quietly passed the second reading is as questionable as the amendment of the Code of Conduct Bureau act which was on the verge of making history as the fastest bill ever passed in the history of the Nigerian senate after it passed through the second reading in just 78 hours to bail out Saraki, weaken the CCT and uphold future cases of corruption. The ignorant senators were initially of the view that the amendment could affect an ongoing trial which is wrong.
 
Meanwhile, a bill on gender equality sponsored by Senator Abiodun Olujimi representing Ekiti South which would have saved some other Ese Orurus from forced marriages and child abuse was kicked out as it wouldn't satisfy the sexual interests of some paedophiles and the representation of women in the corridors of power.
 
Saraki can further be described as that awkward piece of wood that thwarts the cooking fire according to a saying by the Yorubas. In this case, he decisively divided the APC Senators thereby making an arch enemy off Senator Kabiru Marafa of Zamfara central and his team. This was also extended to the party as Timi Frank, the Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the APC was denied the chance of replacing the current Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed to speak on behalf of his party due to his relationship with Saraki who he has often spoken in support of.
 
Saraki's senate (including the House of Reps)  also delved into the duties of the Executive arm of government by editing (making allocations) the 2016 appropriation bill rather than simply ratifying it or sending it to the Executive for correction or assent as spelt out in section 4 of the 1999 constitution. Section 80-83 clearly specifies the role of the Legislature as regards public finance. The duplication of the function of the Executive arm has led to all manner of controversies e.g. the Lagos-Calabar rail project saga which is still yet to be cleared as no party has proven humble enough to take the fall for the inadequacies. This also led to the implication of Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin, Chairman House of Reps Committee on Appropriation who was vehemently accused of allocating governmental projects worth N4.2 billion to his federal constituency, Kiru/Bebeji in Kano. These Lawmakers need to be referred to the Nigerian constitution for orientation on the division of governmental powers between the legislature and the executive arm of government as well as the judiciary for future purposes.
 
The last minute efforts by the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions to frustrate Saraki's daily trial by summoning Justice Danladi Umar on a case of corruption that is already being heard in a Federal High Court further exposes the senate as a waste of taxpayers' money that could have been used in developing the agricultural sector and providing jobs if we had no senate.
 
Saraki's senate also showcased the red chambers' height of insensitivity to the economic plight of Nigeria when it purchased 36 exotic Land Cruiser SUVs for a whopping sum of N36.5 million each after being paid their heavy car loan allowances in a country where 'grasses' were used to prepare soup for people in the Internally Displaced Persons camps in the North-east. 450 people have also died from malnutrition in 28 IDP camps in Nigeria in the year 2015 not to talk of the 6,444 severe cases of malnourished children according to a statement by Borno Emergency Management Agency.
 
For the first time in this country, Nigerians are considering an amendment of the constitution to enable them get rid of the money-grabbing Senators just like Senegal. The upper lawmaking body seems disconnected from the people they represent. 
 
Saraki's case isn't the best movie to watch, neither is it the best Radio show to listen to. His exit or stay in power may never affect the plight of the Nigerian masses or solve most of the problems Nigeria is being confronted with.
 
I wish to see the issue of fuel scarcity trend relentlessly, power problem and that of the quagmire of Fulani cattle rustlers who are almost above the law because their 'Chairman' is on top as PDP chieftain, Femi Fani Kayode insinuated.
 
We shouldn't allow external issues that will never advance the generality of our interests to divide us. As the street slang will always say; Who Saraki trial for CCT Epp (help)? Certainly, the elites sharing the same dining table with him like Senator Dino Melaye who pledged allegiance to him until death.
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About Osayimwen Osahon George

I'm a journalist and a Political Scientist undergoing a doctoral programme focused on media, democracy and governance in Africa. My mission is to uphold the role of the media as the 'fourth estate of the realm' and also tell the Nigerian Story to the world. You can contact me on smile2georgex@yahoo.com Phone number: +2347053302356.
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