By Remi Oyeyemi…
“The test of courage comes when we are in minority. The test of tolerance comes when we are in the majority.” – Ralph W. Sockman
“Physical strength is measured by what we can carry. Inner strength is measured by what we can bear” – Anonymous.
You don’t have to like this man. You’re at liberty to hate him. You are free to hate his guts. You are allowed to believe all the lies told against him. You are free to ridicule him with all the “truths” you have learnt or come to know about him. You are welcome to gloat about all his travails. But you have to respect him.
I don’t like his political domination of Kwara State. To me, that domination has not really benefitted the people on the street. He has squandered so many opportunities. But the hallmark of a conscientious leader is to be able to reflect, acknowledge his mistakes and express regrets, why mapping out a new trajectory for himself.
He has made so many mistakes. He has also made so many enemies. I believe that he has not had honest, sincere, bold and courageous advisers. Or do I mean transformational advisers? I believe that this has caused him a lot of ill-will among the people. It has caused him a lot of political capital. He has been allowed in an unfettered manner, to adopt a political modality that could give success on a short run but that could at times, I repeat, at times, be damaging, on a long run.
The last three years have revealed a lot about the current Senate President. The last three years have shown a different type of man in Senator Bukola Saraki. The last three years have shown a man reticent and taciturn in the face of difficulties. The last three years have shown a man who became stoic in the face of challenges. These last few years have shown a determined man, not easily bullied, or cowed or intimidated. These last few years have shown him to have a lot of inner strength.
Despite all the arsenal deployed to humiliate him, embarrass him and bring him to ridicule, he has triumphed. They sent EFCC after him. The EFCC “camped” in front of his houses in Abuja and Ilorin. They “monitored” when he went to the toilet. They “monitored” when he went to the dining table. They paid due attention even when he tried to have privacy with his beautiful wife, Toyin. They breathed down his neck. They tried to suffocate him by all and every means available. But he found a way to survive it all.
They harassed him over and over. They brought so many cases against him, whether frivolous or not. They put him in the dock several times. They engaged in media war and campaigns against him. Like an ant that is not so innocent, they chased him around the house with sledgehammers. In the course of doing that, his enemies broke down the structures of the house that is our governance while the ant continued to escape and gradually developed into a re-energised elephant.
Like a cat with many lives, the more they blackmailed him, the more he appropriated the sympathy of Nigerians who were able to easily discern that this was a persecution garbed as prosecution. Even, those who think Saraki was a “devil” began to have second thoughts. They began to give him benefit of the doubt. They began to question the justification for his persecution in the way and manner his detractors and enemies went about it. They wondered at the accusations and the accusers.
Nigerians were able to see through the hypocrisy of the EFCC led by Ibrahim Magu and his sponsors. They wondered what Saraki’s sins were and why other similar sinners were enjoying the protection of Aso Rock. Nigerians lost faith in the EFCC. They lost confidence in Aso Rock. They lost trust in the so – called anti-corruption war. Nigerians found out it was and still is a fake. So far, his enemies have suffered more damages than they sought to inflict on Senator Saraki.
I don’t know if Nigerians are in love with Senator Bukola Saraki. But Nigerians are very certain that he has been victimised. Nigerians believed that there was a concerted effort by Aso Rock and other political detractors to vilify him and destroy him. I know that the majority of Nigerians are fair-minded. They like to wish and do unto others what they wish and do unto themselves. They do not mind fair prosecution. But they detest persecution, fair or unfair.
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Fortunately, Senator Saraki has had victories in the courts. He has been vindicated by the judicial system. He was persevering while being persecuted. He was enduring while being vilified. He believed in his own innocence. The judicial system has attested to this. Regardless of what we may all think of our judicial system, at least, its attestation to the innocence of Bukola Saraki on all charges brought against him was and still is a cleansing act.
Now, on his laps, is a golden opportunity to restrategize and redefine his political trajectory. He has the chance to look back at his omissions and commissions and make amends. He has a new lease of life to rewrite his own History as a political gladiator. It is an opportunity to be transformational now. It is an opportunity to conquer himself in order to be able to appropriate further successes that are lurking in the labyrinth of time, the path of which is laced with laburnums.
He has contested for the presidential ticket of his party, PDP. He did not do badly coming third out of twelve aspirants, many of who have been in the race long before he jumped in. He has shown himself to be a hardball player, but a good sportsman the way he reacted to the victory of his good friend and leader, the former Vice President Abubakar Atiku.
In one’s opinion, he has acquainted himself very well as the Senate President. He has refused to be a rubber stamp. He cooperated when the national interest demanded it. He also refused to be bullied in order to protect democracy. Though, the sentries of dictatorial democracy domiciled in Aso Rock really hates him, he has succeeded in remaining tall and fulfilled. He might have been bloodied but remains bold and unbowed.
Where they applied brawn, Saraki used his brain. Where they employed blackmail, he took refuge in reticence. Where they used humiliation, he employed uncommon humility, a virtue for which he has not really been famous. Where they deployed brigandage, he became foxy. Where they set traps, he became taciturn and tricky. When they provoked him, he employed calmness and became cerebral. When they blockaded him, he became unflappable, sly and slippery.
Senator Bukola Saraki, in the last few years, has walked through the furnace of Nigerian politics. Despite the ghosts of his involvement in several ventures before 2014 haunting him, he has remained tenacious, persevering and steadfast. He has made a lot of errors. He has made a lot of mistakes. But he has said that he is regretful about a lot of things. He must follow up in his actions to exude his sense of remorse.
Nigerians are not looking for a Saint. But a sinner could transform into a Messiah, as in the case of Saul of Tarsus who later became Paul after seeing Jesus on his way to Damascus. Nigerians are very fair minded and forgiving. As Paul Boese once posited, “Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.” With all his travails turned to triumphs so far, if he is able to be brutally honest and sincere with himself, Bukola Saraki might still have a date with History.
But only he, and time can and will tell on this.
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