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Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu

For taking the art of politicking to its pristine level while keeping their eyes on the ball, for consistently remaining the “issue” and “point of reference” in the rough and tumble politics of Nigeria, Senators Ahmed Bola Tinubu and Bukola Saraki are LEADERSHIP Politicians of the year 2018.

Senator Bukola Saraki

Senator Saraki’s effective and active command of affairs in the Red Chamber of the National Assembly portrays him as a leader of immense capacity and capability. For steering the 8th Senate through turbulent waters, changing the political dynamics within his sphere of influence, against all odds, and remaining Unremovable in spite og being the underdog, for his political nimbleness and doggedness, Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki is LEADERSHIP Politician of the Year 2018.

As president of the Nigerian Senate, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki is no doubt a goldfish that is both visible and notable. He went into the office with an unassailable pedigree that is the envy of many. Following his emergence as the No. 3 citizen in June 2015, his influence has grown larger: he is no longer just the strongman of Kwara politics since the demise of his father Dr Abubakar Olusola Saraki, some years ago; his influence seems to have transcended his Kwara home state and presently looms large in the entire north-central zone.

But Saraki didn’t attain this political height without having his share of political baptism of fire. The manner of his emergence, which upended party calculations, opened a floodgate of attacks devised to shoot down his irrepressible spirit and rising profile. He was arraigned before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) by his own party, on September 22, 2015, over alleged false declaration of assets. Undaunted by the inanity of his trials, he fought gallantly to prove his innocence.

He was discharged and acquitted by the CCT, but the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) appealed the verdict of the CCT. The Court of Appeal exonerated the Senate President on some of the charges and asked the CCT to retry Saraki on other counts. Saraki painstakingly approached the Supreme Court where he was discharged and acquitted of all the charges in July 2018, almost three years after his trial started.

Saraki’s patience during the period of trial was legendary. Even more remarkable was the solidarity he enjoyed from his fellow senators who were convinced that he was a victim of political witch-hunt. When eventually he won, his legal victory was both outstanding and noteworthy.

While congratulating him on his victory at the apex court, President Muhammadu Buhari commended the Senate president for his patience, courage and comportment while the trial lasted. The president said Saraki’s pursuit of his case from the lowest to the apex court should be a precedent for others to emulate, recalling how he went through the same judicial process three times after he lost presidential elections in the past.

No doubt, Saraki’s triumph should serve as a tonic for lovers of justice and good governance in the country who share the view that solutions of leadership are inside leaders. This view stands in line with the fact that natural leaders don’t just do things; they change things. Reading the life of Saraki, one cannot but agree that, indeed, wisdom is better earned in the den of setbacks than in the cosiness of victories.

As Senate president, Saraki has not disappointed his admirers in the country’s political landscape. Rather than retreat behind closed doors, the scion of the famed Oloye Saraki dynasty in Ilorin has consistently shown leadership at the forefront: assessing situations, evaluating options, and encouraging colleagues in the two legislative arms of government to work together for a stable, fair and just society.

Although leadership traits could be developed, certain individuals were born natural leaders. Saraki falls in the latter category. Balancing on his self-assurance and privileged position as Nigeria’s No. 3, he did not gloss over problems in the hope that they would just go away. He relied on his can-do verve to trudge on.

In June 2017, Saraki revealed that the 8th Senate under his leadership had passed the most bills in its 13 months of existence. This hints on development leadership – leadership that expands the capacity of fellow lawmakers to excel in their respective positions within the Red Chamber, and ultimately achieve results. It speaks simply of Saraki as a servant and transformational leader. This is in spite of the distractions that seemed to have become standard stuff — one that natural-born leaders are fortunate to be well equipped to duck.

It is obvious the journey has not been easy for Saraki, but he has so far shown many good qualities of an effective leader in times of adversity, which explains the way and manner he has been able to keep the federal legislature intact.

 


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