Home Opinion Bukola Saraki, Buhari’s “Change” and the Opportunism of Nigerian Political Elites, By Adeolu Ademoyo

Bukola Saraki, Buhari’s “Change” and the Opportunism of Nigerian Political Elites, By Adeolu Ademoyo

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…importantly, in the run up to the so-called Senate election, the real choice was never about autonomy/independence of the Senate. Rather, the real choice was and is between a Senate dependent on PDP as we now have it under Bukola Saraki or one whose moral vision is consistent with the moral opposition that brought President Buhari to office.

Call it political intrigue, horse trading, the “beauty” and “ugliness” of democracy, hidden and open godfather politics, etc. However, the highpoint of the emergence of Bukola Saraki as Senate President and Yakubu Dogara as Speaker of the House of Representatives in 2015 signals (i) the re-emergence of PDP, (ii) a question mark on President Buhari’s Change philosophy, (iii) a rude reminder that Nigerian politicians and elites are driven primarily and only by their personal political and economic interests, (iv) the open and hidden political calculations for the presidential election in 2019, and (v) the fragile nature of the APC coalition.

Driven solely by personal interests rather than a clearly stated ideology and programme of action, members of the Nigerian political class are treacherous, stealthy and sly. This explains why there are no parties today worthy of the name. The recent developments in the Nigerian Senate which led to the emergence of Bukola Saraki as Senate President is a clear indication of this tragedy. A tragedy, which led to the emergence of PDP – a party that stalled Nigeria’s progress for sixteen years and which Nigerians rejected at the 2015 popular polls – as the dominant party in the Nigerian parliament!

And given the signs in the Senate’s long knives and political intrigue, it is not too early to ask if President Buhari will contest in 2019 because some of those nursing presidential ambitions in the 2019 elections lurked behind Bukola Saraki and Yakubu Dogara in this treachery against the Change Campaign.

In clear mockery of the long drawn clamour and battle for “Change”, Mr. David Mark and Mr. Ike Ekweremadu, both of PDP, in alliance with Bukola Saraki, played major roles in constituting the Nigerian Senate to bring about the tragic burlesque in the Senate and complete the reversal of the “Change” in a full circle! It is a paradox and a rekindling of darkness, which has brought to fullness the present dark and cynical humour on Nigerian democracy. It may as well be the end of Buhari’s “Change.”

On the part of fellow Nigerians who did not rest their interventions (during the Campaign to Change the PDP and a system that held Nigeria down for sixteen years) on pecuniary gains from the Nigerian system but who still found time to help, work and campaign for change, the substantive re-emergence of PDP in the parliament through Bukola Saraki, Ike Ekweremadu, Yakubu Dogara, Yusuf Lasun (and their acceptance of this treachery and opportunism in familiar but strange quarters) has revealed a lot about our uncritical trust and belief.

The biggest of this uncritical trust belongs to those of us who went all out to mobilise for President Buhari under the assumption that he represents a great moment of “Change” – politically, economically, socially and morally. The point is: what do we tell those – especially the youths – we convinced that Buhari was indeed a great moment of Change in Nigeria? It is an un-critical belief we need to now re-interrogate and re-understand. “Change” seems dead on arrival or may have different meanings for all the purported bearers of “Change”, including President Buhari.

Strangely, in some quarters, the crass opportunism and prostitution of Nigerian elites and members of Nigerian political class that produced Bukola Saraki as Senate President is being hawked as an exercise in the “independence” of the Senate to elect its leaders! But on the contrary, lacking in historical and moral context, this patently flawed interpretation disingenuously excludes the dubious, corrupt, unpatriotic and criminal context which is the history of the Nigerian Senate under the leadership of David Mark, Ike Ekweremadu and their party, PDP, which worked in alliance with Bukola Saraki and the hidden PDP members in APC to return us to the status quo we fought against under Buhari’s Change campaign.

Also, this questionable interpretation uses a flawed notion of “independence” to return the leadership of the parliament to the same party – PDP – that wrecked Nigeria for sixteen years. The consequence of this is the rubbishing of the political and moral investments of Nigerians – young and old, at home and in the Diaspora – in the clamour for genuine Change of leadership at both the national parliament and executive.

Those who interpret the “neutrality” of President Buhari in handing the leadership of the parliament back to PDP to mean a vote for the “independence”/”autonomy” of the parliament are disingenuous – and that is being mild. This is because the question is: independent from what?

And here, for the records, we will document the names of those who belong to this category of people who attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of Nigerians by calling a basic treachery of the Change Campaign (by Bukola Saraki and his hidden prostituting and opportunistic supporters in APC) “autonomy” of Senate! We will also ask those who have not come out openly to celebrate this opportunism, prostitution and treachery to come out openly and state their position.

The known celebrants of this treachery pertaining to the Change Campaign are Abubakar Atiku, who strangely still nurses a presidential ambition; Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, the Sokoto Governor who still has his eyes on the presidency in 2019; Dino Melaye, whose political and a-moral choices are often determined by pecuniary gains; the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) leadership, which does not know its left from its right and seems not to know that its primary duty is the defense of the interests of Nigerian workers. Those who are yet to state their position (and we will wait for them) are Rabiu Kwankwaso (ex-Governor of Kano State) and Chibuike Amaechi (ex-Governor of Rivers state). They must state their position on this heinous crime against the Change Campaign.

Similar to other moral questions we have raised on this platform, someone may ask “what the heck if Bukola Saraki becomes the Senate President?” My simple answer is that a dog, morally, ought not go back to eat its vomit, except the dog and its vomit have merged and become one! In working with PDP – which Nigerians battled against at the popular polls and which Bukola Saraki (purportedly working under the Buhari Campaign of Change) himself said he was against – Bukola Saraki and his hidden backers (especially in APC) have shown themselves as morally despicable, worthless and shameless members of the Nigerian elites who will always go back to eat their vomit. That is the “heck” and I challenge anybody including Bukola Saraki’s overt and covert defenders (in the APC) to respond to this “heck”.

A Senate under the presidency of Mr. Bukola Saraki, as choreographed by PDP and PDP members in APC with Mr. David Mark and Mr. Ike Ekweremadu as visible guards of other invisible but “PDP in APC” faces outside the Senate who masquerade as APC but are actually PDP, is a throw back to the kleptocracy and the retrogression of PDP and it therefore cannot be independent but dependent on PDP, and the dark and evil forces that stalled Nigerian progress for sixteen years.

More importantly, in the run up to the so-called Senate election, the real choice was never about autonomy/independence of the Senate. Rather, the real choice was and is between a Senate dependent on PDP as we now have it under Bukola Saraki or one whose moral vision is consistent with the moral opposition that brought President Buhari to office.

…the important issue here is that “Change” has temporarily been put on hold nationally because there was never an economic, moral, political, social and ideological content to that “Change” in the first place beyond Mr. Buhari’s aspiration to be president. It is that lack of substance in Buhari’s “Change” that failed to send the message out strongly that Nigeria will not return to the dark age of PDP as we are gradually experiencing again.

With Saraki and Dogara as principal officers of the parliament we lost the latter (the moral vision that brought Buhari as the president) and we now have the former – dependence on the forces of stagnation in the PDP. Someone should let us know if this is “autonomy” and or “independence”! An “autonomy” that is morally dependent on the same PDP forces that wrecked Nigeria cannot be autonomy Nigerians deserve and desire. It is a morally repulsive and morally worthless “autonomy” which is beneath contempt.
And the responsibility for this big setback in the nation lies squarely with President Buhari and his party – APC. With his political decision or indecision, which led to the return of the parliament to the dark old days of PDP, Buhari is looking more and more like a person whose only agenda was to get rid of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan (for whatever reason). After the exit of Jonathan, Mr. Buhari seems to be okay and fine.

We are back to square one, with all efforts wasted precisely because of President Buhari’s political choice. And this choice shows that he and APC do not have a well spelt out agenda – political, economic, and social – besides the clamour for “Change”, a slogan in need of content and substance.

A serious government struggles and fights with a concrete, visible, precise and clearly spelt out programme of action, and not some recurring chewing and spewing of the vague word “Change”. It is such clearly spelled out programme of action that will be a clear signal to hideous, covert and more overt PDP and “PDP in APC” forces (Bukola Saraki, Yakubu Dogara, Dino Melaye, David Mark, Ike Ekweremadu, Abubakar Atiku, Aminu Tambuwal etc) that Nigerians cannot afford a return of the PDP men and women in the parliament and government.

But President Buhari has not presented any programme of action to the public that can strongly make that case or he has one only known to him and the tiny members of his inner circle – the usual cabal who destroyed the country in the past. But the result is the political and moral vacuum and subtle but clear message from Buhari that any questionable character or politician with questionable agenda can return to the leadership of the Nigerian politics, government and parliament. This may as well be Buhari’s agenda.

A president with an agenda – good or bad – would have kept a keen eye on the political and moral character of the leadership of the legislature he is going to work with. This is because any serious President who is ready to hit the ground running needs a legislature that is not a political and moral negation of his vision and agenda.

So, contrary to PDP politicians and Buhari himself, to show an interest in the political and moral character of the legislative arm does not amount to interference with the autonomy of the parliament. It all depends on how this is carried out. This is because political contests are always necessarily partisan. A popular programme of action or opportunistic personal interests (as we have in the Bukola Saraki/PDP alliance) drives such partisanship. And on a more reflective note, while partisanship means full disclosure of interests and vision may not necessarily destroy autonomy, the so-called “neutrality”, with a strange and hidden agenda, and without a full disclosure of interests (as we have it presently-Buhari, Saraki, Dogara, PDP), may actually be a major threat to autonomy.

This is because nature abhors vacuum. Hence, a failure to guard the moral autonomy of the legislative arm that a President will be working with may amount to an immoral destruction of the autonomy, given its flawed understanding, and it amounts to handing the parliament over to one’s moral opponents in the field, as Buhari and PDP in APC have done either by an act of omission or commission.

Buhari’s agenda of “Change” without content has produced the negation of the moral autonomy of the Eighth Nigerian Senate, the House of Assembly and the re-emergence of a moral tradition in the Senate/House leadership that wrecked Nigerian in the first place under David Mark, Ike Ekweremadu and Goodluck Jonathan. It is a negation of the touted autonomy, a flawed and dubious sense of autonomy lacking in moral worth because the Nigerian parliament, under Bukola Saraki/Ike Ekweremadu/David Mark/Yakubu Dogara – is now dependent on the same dark and immoral forces that held Nigeria to ransom for sixteen years.

And here is the talking point. No serious minded person who is shovel ready to work talks miserably and defensively like Buhari does about “autonomy” in a vacuum. Autonomy, neutrality and partisanship all have historical, political and moral contexts. Hence, one must look at the historical, political and moral contexts when talking about “autonomy” (in the case of the Nigerian parliament) in order not to undermine oneself, demobilise a major moral Campaign for Change (that made Buhari the President) and hand over a crucial aspect of governance to the same PDP forces that held us back for sixteen years.

Those who are still struggling to see this should apprehend the emerging scenario. And here it is. President Buhari’s conscious political decision – or indecision – has strengthened the following politicians who were the architects of the failure of Nigeria for sixteen years under PDP – Ayo Fayose (who ought to be in jail), Bukola Saraki (PDP member in APC who has unfinished business with the EFCC), David Mark and Ike Ekweremadu (PDP) whose hands are full of all that wrecked the country and brought her to her knees.

These morally questionable and politicians are the new arrowheads of the re-emerging PDP. The point here is that Nigerians will have to live with the crime that brought Ayo Fayose to power. Second, as the Senate President, Bukola Saraki has temporarily gained immunity against prosecution for his crime in Societe Generale Bank, where he was an Executive Director. Third, as a result of President Buhari’s political choice, the alleged drug baron, PDP Senator Kashamu Buruji may be inching his way back to the Nigerian Senate!

We can go on and on with specifics. But the important issue here is that “Change” has temporarily been put on hold nationally because there was never an economic, moral, political, social and ideological content to that “Change” in the first place beyond Mr. Buhari’s aspiration to be president. It is that lack of substance in Buhari’s “Change” that failed to send the message out strongly that Nigeria will not return to the dark age of PDP as we are gradually experiencing again.

It is increasingly becoming obvious that that Buhari’s aspiration seems to have less to do with the public good and Nigeria, and has more to do with an agenda whose shape and substance we must begin to re-understand in the light of President Buhari’s “new’ political decision, indecision and ambiguous moral choice.

Adeolu Ademoyo, aaa54@cornell.edu, is with the Africana Studies and Research Center, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.

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