With the speed offered by technology and social media, some international missions had already started issuing warnings as a supposed invasion of the National Assembly unfolded – it was an attack on and a threat to democracy, they say. Even after the questionable siege ended the government of the day was still being vilified, apparently by persons and group that were primed to do just that. It never occurred to them or they simply refused to accept that Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, orchestrated the whole drama. Even when emerging facts have exonerated the Presidency, Saraki’s paid guns continue to box shadows.
The angst of these programmed critics is that the invasion was targeted at the embattled Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki. It does not matter that the parliament is home to 468 other federal lawmakers. It always has to be about Saraki, who bizarrely is now the symbol of democracy for those who know next to nothing about what the tenets of democracy are. They would have known that his very presence in the parliament is a blot on the collective conscience of Nigerians.
Fortunately, there is track record of Saraki manipulating what should be routine law enforcement exercises to appear as attacks against him. Even when he was linked to murderous robbers that acquired arms and operational vehicles through Saraki and his associates, he still argued that the Police invitation for him to explain his role for financing the robbers was a witch hunt.
So, when a lot of sabre rattling has been going on between Saraki’s loyalists and those sickened by his continued stay in office, it is logical that the premises of the National Assembly are appropriately secured to ensure it was not converted into a warzone. With a knack to see opportunities even in disasters, it took no effort for Saraki to turn the table on those seeking to do right for the country. He cried wolf. Securing the premises of the Assembly is a coup against his dynasty. The public sentiments are still in his favour, which is a classical Saraki style.
It is not the first time that the Senate President has manipulated law enforcement agents in manners that pose dangers to national security and the nation’s democracy. Fourteen days prior the nation woke up to a police siege on Saraki’s official residence in what his followers and primed analysts described as a coup to prevent him presiding over a session at which some of his colleagues were to defect from the ruling All progressives Congress (APC) to the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
That incident, with its replication at the residence of the Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, generated the expected hysteria and frothing in the mouth such that the assertion by the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Kpotun Idris, that he did not order the siege was drowned in the bedlam. Saraki and his strategists are of course aware that social media would be awash with the story and people will jump to criticize the supposed attack at the initial stage and that these same people will do nothing to correct their stance when the truth eventually unfolded. The consequence is that people will remember the louder and more strident voice in the debate while quickly forgetting the quieter voice that offered the facts.
Twelve days before the invasion of the National Assembly, Saraki’s body double, Senator Dino Melaye kidnapped himself and a man with excessive common sense broke the news with insinuation that the federal government was responsible. Law enforcement agencies were blamed for his decision to go incommunicado to avoid appearing in court to defend the gun running charges against him. Till date Melaye has not taken anyone to see the tree with the comfortable bough to house him for eleven hours.
When people are able to get to the bottom of these issues, perhaps they will realize that their obsession with protecting their hard-earned democracy is making them hand this same democracy to a successful scam artist, who outwitted even his own father and sold his sister down the river without a paddle. There was a coup against Saraki but only PDP Senators, his new-found accomplices, were there at the National Assembly “to impeach him”. It is similarly a curious coincidence that Saraki’s media aides sent out text messages to journalists by 2am inviting them to the National Assembly entrance to report the attempted coup to remove their principal from office.
In all of these, Saraki has attained the status of a recalcitrant child who is addicted to throwing tantrums until he has his way, one that is bent on destroying a communal toy if he is not going to have it to himself. Today it is the DSS he has compromised after messing up the police yesterday and tomorrow no one knows what critical national institution he will undermine. He will likely blame the Presidency if one of his concubines fails to gratify his fantasies.
These resort to manipulated realities and lies to gain undeserved sympathy is damaging to the body polity while it poses risk to all citizens. The situation contrived by Saraki at the National Assembly premises could have degenerated into something ugly.
Miscreants could have hijacked the situation leading to avoidable bloodbath. Had one single lawmaker or even an everyday citizen been hit by a stray bullet from accidental discharge on that scene, nationwide riots could have broken out leading to further loss of life.
This has implications for national security as Saraki’s drama at the National Assembly is really a coup against the country. Had the other military services read the situation wrongly and descended on the place with disproportionate force it would be as good as an all-out civil war. If this were to go on for only twelve hours it would take the nation more than twelve years to heal the wounds.
One wound that must get immediate attention is the international perception of Nigeria. What was a political gimmick to Sarakai impacted the perception of Nigeria in the international community. The money, stock and commodity markets took hits in the few hours that the madness lasted because investors’ confidence was shaken. When next the Fragile State Index is published, Saraki’s series of indiscretion would have further nudged Nigeria higher on the way to being a failed state. The international missions that had issued hasty condemnation of the invasion have not issued apologies for their error, which means it will remain in their assessment of Nigeria to their home countries.
These possible and unfolding consequences make it necessary that the federal government follows up on the case. Saraki should be made to answer for breaching national security. But the reality was that he did much worse than that. What he did was attempted coup, trying to manipulate those deployed to secure the parliament into truncating that branch of government and this offence stands even when it was part of an elaborate make-believe. Saraki should be charged for treason.