Saraki’s rabble rousing

It is electioneering time in Nigeria as politicians and their parties are really agitated in their bid to compete for the favour of the electorate. Over fifty political parties are vying for various electable political positions throughout the country, and the nation’s election umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has fixed the presidential and the National Assembly elections for Saturday 16 February, 2019 while the governorship and the states assembly together with the Federal Capital Territory elections were fixed for Saturday 2nd March, 2019.

In the build-up to the elections, Nigerian politicians have mostly neglected issue-based campaign in favour of personality attacks, sentiment arousal, data manipulations and even outright lies to pull down their opponents and probably sell their ambition. This is worrisome.

While the citizens have garnered sufficient experience over the years to sift these barrage of misleading misinformations and arrive at an informed decision on whom they should vote for, some desperate politicians are not relenting in their bid to create confusion in the minds of the populace, hoping to gain what they mischievously refer to as, ‘sympathy votes’. It is a scheme, a foxy one at that.

Senate president, Bukola Saraki is one of such politicians who have created a niche for themselves as crafty politicians, who can go to any length to win an election. His political sojourn has seen him taken to the stage against his father, decimating the political fortune of the late senior Saraki in the process and causing irreparable damage to his health and ultimately his life.

But Bukola Saraki appears to have been thoroughly decoded by the electorate in Kwara state where he has held say for close to two decades now. Voters in the state are beginning to shift their loyalty to any party where Saraki does not belong, an indication of their dissatisfaction with his overbearing influence on governance in the state. There have been allegations that he intimidates people into submission and muzzles dissenting voices. Kwarans appear poised for a showdown with him this time, having made a staunch political statement in a local government election held in the state last year. They voted massively against his candidates and even handed him a resounding defeat at his Agbaji ancestral base. The results were swiftly manipulated by the state government, and all hell broke, with a huge casualty.

The realization that he has lost favour with the electorate has made the senate president a bit more desperate to get sympathy at all cost. Last year, when the Nigeria Police succeeded in arresting some thugs, alleged to be in his payroll, for acts of thuggery, vandalism as well as murder of innocent people in Ilorin, Saraki quickly went to the floor of the Senate to claim that the police was planning to implicate him. He did all he could to frustrate the investigation. In the same vein, when the police arrested the armed robbers that inflicted a reign of terror on Offa town in Kwara state, police investigations revealed that the robbers have some affiliations with him. Rather than cooperate with the police in unraveling the nature of his connection with the robbers, Saraki went to the press to insinuate that he was being implicated by the police.

Only on Friday in Abuja while addressing the press at the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential Campaign Organisation headquarters, Saraki sounded another one of his false alarms, saying his life is in danger. According to him, he and his party members are being harassed by members of the opposition, whom he alleged the police are according protection. He therefore lamented that the police has not been giving him special security.

Saraki was quoted to have said that, “The usual practice has been that the Commissioner of Police personally ensures the security of the Senate President whenever he visits his home state. That was the practice during the period of my predecessor and in my first year in office”. And the tricky part, indeed the foxy part, appealed to “…the entire world to hold the IGP responsible if anything untoward happens to members of my family and myself”.

That was Saraki the typical wolf crier, the politician who wants to pin his recent glaring unpopularity on someone else. It reminds one of that bully in primary school who would be the first to cry whenever any of his victims surmount the courage to resist his bullish tendencies.

The Nigeria Police has said that it did not give any protection to any political thug “to go to the family quarters of the Senate President in Agbaji, Ilorin and vandalize houses, shops and inflict wounds with machete…The Police did not receive any complaint or report of gunshot and wounding as claimed by the Senate President in other areas he mentioned such as Adewole/Adeta, Ile-otan and Ubandawaki/Pakata. For the avoidance of doubt, there was no complaint reported at any Police division within Ilorin metropolis or any other Police Division on the 10th January, 2019 to today 11th January 2019 of any attack, wounding, shooting and destruction of any property by any individual(s) or any political party on their members”.

The police however gave the assurance that “security within Ilorin metropolis and other locations in Kwara State has been {sic} beefed-up to ensure security of all Nigerians living in the State”.

It is unclear why Mr Saraki wants the Commissioner of Police in Kwara state to be the one to personally attend to his individual security. Kwara has an estimated six million inhabitants, the security of lives and property of whom the Commissioner of Police is responsible for. There is nowhere in the world that a Commissioner of Police would abandon the security of lives and property of the generality and personally devote himself to one man. Even the president does not have the Inspector General of Police personally guarding him. There are police personnel attached to his retinue of other security agents in his entourage, and the police have said that those personnel have remained with the Senate president.

According to the Police, ‘It is pertinent to state that all Police personnel attached to the person of the Senate President, his office and family are intact and all the statutory security protection on the person of the Senate President are also accorded him all the time and there was no complaint from the Senate President before now to the Police on this”. 

It is clear that such unfounded allegations are meant to raise dust in the ocean. They are the straw to which a drowning politician is desperately holding. Kwara politics is for Kwarans. They should mobilize for the coming elections with decorum, peacefully and without violating law and order. Meanwhile, the Nigeria Police is apolitical and is there to serve every citizen, not withstanding his/her party affiliation.

Ibrahim writes from Kaduna.

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