👤 By Dr Chima Matthew Amadi, @AMADICHIMA
I was getting inpatient and tetchy at the now 30 minutes wait. I turned to my colleague-in-the-waiting-game and told him I was leaving. Just then, someone walks into the waiting room and announced that “His Excellency will see you now.”
And so, we were ushered into the presence of Baba Oloye’s first son, the irrepressible
Bukola Saraki, in his elegant best,seated alone in his study.He stood up to greet us and quickly apologized for keeping us waiting.Niceties over,he delved into the issues why he wanted to see us.
He was the Senate Committee Chairman on the Environment and wants to know how he can use the privilege to address issues that matters most to the people.He didn’t want to just sit in Abuja and do the same things which end up not being impactful. He wanted to feel the pulse of the people.
I told him in my usual blunt nature that he can’t achieve anything. Reminded him that the work of the legislature was to make laws and any environmental impact which was curative or even interventionist would require support from the executive which was not going to happen. Given that he was the harshest critic of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the subsidy scam in the National Assembly (NASS). We told him that the best he can achieve was to raise awareness to the issues of the environment and lend a strong institutional support for the yearnings of those who suffer most.
He agreed and we drafted a line of action that would see him travel round the six geopolitical zones engaging with those who are suffering from man-made and natural effects of environmental disasters. He insisted that we should start from the South East and South South zones.
In his opinion, these areas were worst hit by environmental disasters (erosion, oil spillage etc). We told him to get ready for a serious backlash. From nowhere I just asked “Distinguished, why did you go against your father”? He looked at me for a few seconds and spoke calmly.
“Doctor,government is not a family affair. It was morally wrong to foist a family member on the people. Are we the only people in Kwara?”. We continued talking and I saw a part of the man that either he hides from people or his handlers do not know how to bring it to the fore.
Saraki may not be a saint but the man is infuriated by injustice. Many of his battles for social justice are not published on the pages of newspapers.
Saraki almost fought a minister for withholding funds meant to be disbursed to the people for rice farming. You won’t hear that.
Rotimi Amaechi is a minister today courtesy of Saraki. That singular decision was almost politically fatal. I can’t go into details. While we were talking, my colleague asked him why he was in the ring with the Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s administration. He said he had nothing personal against them.
But each time he sees fuel queues and knowing what he knows about the scam going on in the NNPC he would rather suffer reprisals from the ruling class than from the masses. I left his presence thinking that the man was a misunderstood gladiator. Misunderstood by the people!
Two days later, the fireworks started. He was summoned by the police for allegations of misappropriation of funds of Societe Generale Bank. The distractions of that witch-hunt ensured that we could not carry out our plans to engage with issues of the environment.
To those fighting Saraki now, you have a man hardened by many battles to contend with. He will not rollover for anyone. Do I believe him when he says he is not fighting for self? Yes! But, his definition of collective good may not be same as mine.
What I can say for a certainty is that Saraki’s battles with the executive was what has prevented the polity from witnessing full totalitarianism. We have not yet been plunged there Cos Saraki’s eighth Senate provided a bulwark against anti-democratic forces in this regime.
Imagine how we would have been conned into thinking that Tinubu is an altruistic progressive that genuinely wants what’s best for Nigeria if Saraki had not ‘ratted’ him out. But let no one think that Saraki is committing class suicide. Nope!
His preservation lies within the fountains of the collective battles that he engages in. Highly ambitious,which in of itself is no sin, Saraki looks out for Saraki by prioritizing group survival. That’s Elite Theory in practice. Now, I have not had any other personal encounters
With Saraki since that night in 2014, so, No, this is not a paid job. I was part of a team of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) buffs (including SERAP) that had a closed door meeting with him over our insistence that the budget of the NASS must be made public in 2017. I made my comments and left. I didn’t wait to play catch up with him.
READ ALSO : Who Is Afraid Of Bukola Saraki? (LONG READ)
And yes, when the love between me and PMB was still “shacking” me, I was one of those who hated his guts for contesting & winning the SP position against Baba’s candidate.
If he decides to contest for president and gets the party’s nomination, I won’t be sad.