The 1977 movie, ‘A bridge to far’, depicted the over ambitious attempts by the Allied Forces to capture Arnhem and secure an entry into Nazi Germany with the hope of ending the Second World War by December 1944. Codenamed ‘Operation Market Garden’, the movie, which had a corterie of stars in the persons of Sean Connery, James Caan, Anthony Hopkins, Dirk Bogarde, Hardy Kruger and Michael Graham Cox, was an adaptation of a book by Cornelius Ryan.
Same way, I decided to adopt the title of the epic to describe the presidential bid of the embattled Senate President of the Senate and one time governor of Kwara State, Bukola Saraki, who at a function meant for youths under the auspices of the Not Too Young To Run, gleefully highjacked the opportunity given to him to encourage youths on the need to run for public office by declaring his own intention to run for the office of president. The declaration, which elicited much anger from a number of Nigerians, most especially the youths, forced the Not Too Young To Run group to issue a disclaimer on the purported declaration, Saraki had thus kick started his presidential ambition on a wrong foot!
One ought not to have any grouse with Saraki’s bid for the presidency but for a number of issues that are largely to confront the man as he travels down the rough seas of ever changing political permutations peculiar to a nation like Nigeria. These issues are most likely to make his bid for the presidency appear weak and perhaps gift President Buhari and the APC an easy win come the 2019 elections.
Saraki, first of all, has an image problem, even when he postures as a fresh alternative to the numerous problems his ilk brought upon Nigeria. His campaign will no longer remain alight when Nigerians examine his roles while he was governor and the remainder as a senator for eight years. He may huff and haw as the new kid on the block, the breath of fresh air and the political version of Adekunle Gold, but when he begins crooning, he will definitely sound like a number of damned politicians of the first and the second republics.
Simply put, Saraki lacks a plausible ideology to govern Nigeria, he is neither here nor there, does not pretend to even straddle the middle road as a number of politicians are wont to do. Yes, he is a capitalist, and a look at the Panama Papers succinctly suggest that he is a crude one for that matter, as amplified in the collapse of Societe General Bank and the eventual take over of Intercontinental Bank. His politics is thus similar to his business tactics as it is governed by sordid avarice and an unbridled quest for power, which has seen him betray perhaps his own conscience.
History will recall how he abandoned the Northern Elders Forum, led by the late Elder Statesman, Adamu Ciroma, which had then sought to prune down the number of Northern aspirants then seeking to complete President Yar Adua’s term as enshrined in the PDP’s zoning formular which was ratified in 2002. Saraki, Atiku, Babaginda and Gusau had featured prominently in the run up to the primaries, but because NEF had envisaged that a divided North with four candidates would be mince meat for the then incumbent in the person of President Goodluck Jonathan, they decided to bring out a sole candidate who would be backed by the other three. Atiku, by a stroke of luck and good fortune, emerged tops to displace the likes of IBB, Saraki and Gusau and while the others kept to their own parts of the bargain, Saraki didnt, as Atiku was to lose Kwara State, despite the fact that Saraki was then governor and a party to the accord. Nigerians were to see this trait repeat itself when he again betrayed his new party, the APC, when it decided not to field him as its candidate for Senate President, not only did he disobey the party, he treacherously went on to gift the opposition party the office of the deputy senate president.
From then on, it has been one form of blackmail after another, and rather than help fastrack the progressive agenda of President Buhari, Saraki has rather sought to stymie the process. Yet at each stroke of calculated political mischief, he is first to raise the alarm and present himself as the victim.
When a Senate sits on a budget for months employing all known means of political subterfuge to delay the passage of the budget but then turns around to accuse the executive for such stalls, such acts will no longer be unprecedented in our political culture, no thanks to the Bukola Saraki leadership of the senate.
Again, Saraki’s ethnic origins will largely hinder him in this race, for whether we like it or not, our politics largely stokes ethnic tensions amongst the ethnic groups that make up the country, with each group striving to undo the other. Now, with this in view, will Bukola Saraki as an ethnic minority be able to upstage candidates majorly of the ethnic majorities? He does not seem to possess the” Goodluck charm” that former President Jonathan used to possess a number of gullible Nigerians while vying in 2011, besides Goodluck was in power then and could run a few rings round his opponents, will Saraki tell us that he had no shoes even as Oloye’s son, maybe he had no books too?
Saraki’s presidential bid might also alter the zoning arrangement mentioned earlier, with President Buhari spending four years within his first term, will it be advisable for another Northerner to mount the saddle? Will the Northerner be willing to serve a single term of four years only, given that he is also entitled to a second term of four years? To the southerner, particularly the SouthEast region, would four more years of Buhari not be better than Saraki’s four or eight years?
The Buhari-led administration will obviously suffer from less anxieties should Saraki nick the PDP ticket.