In 1770 the Irish statesman and philosopher Edmund Burke wrote about the need ‘for good men to associate to oppose the cabals of bad men.’ This cannot be more so especially in a budding democracy like that of Nigeria.
The costly World War II could have been avoided if some good men had had the courage to associate and oppose the cabals of evil men, stand up against the Nazi hegemony, rise up against Adolf Hitler and prevent the unholy wind that crystallised into an unprecedented holocaust- the elimination of innocent Jews!
Dictators and aberrations of democracy come in the likes our baby-face, smooth-talking senate president, or the bravado saviours of the likes of late General Sani Abacha and Idi Amin Dada of Uganda. We must constantly be on the watch so as not to nurture and sustain such people in power.
This is the story of Dr Bukola Saraki, outgoing president of the Nigerian Senate and former governor of Kwara State. A man nurtured by a hard-working father, Olusola Abubakar Saraki of blessed memory. How he manipulated to significantly diminish our democracy. And how a distinguished Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, stood and defended our democracy.
Perhaps, the serpent was the most alluring creature in the garden of Eden. Or how else could it have captured the imagination of a perfectly beautiful devoted woman and made her to eat an apple for which she had been warned that the Almighty creator, forbids? Alas, the devil does not come as a two-horned frightful creature!
As the governor of Kwara State in 2009, Dr Bukola Saraki removed the State Chief Judge, Justice Raliat Elelu-Habeeb and also directed the state assembly to ratify the sack because she refused to do his biddings. He disregarded a constitutional stipulation that ‘a sitting governor cannot remove any judicial officer or a Chief Judge of a state without some input from the National Judicial Council’. Justice Raliat Elelu-Habeeb challenged him in court and was reinstated by the Supreme Court in 2012. Sadly, that was three years after the illegal act!
How Saraki manipulated our democracy and became the president of the 8th Senate, is a sad story for another day, and in March 2017, suspended Senator Ali Ndume, Senator representing Borno South, for six months. Ali Ndume had simply asked the Senate to investigate the allegation that Saraki was exacting vengeance on Hameed Ali, Controller General of the Nigerian Customs Service because the agency had seized an armoured Range Rover, reportedly belonging to Saraki, said to have cost N298m that had not paid import duties!
Then in April 2018, barely a year after Ndume’s suspension, Saraki and his cabals decided to suspend Senator Ovie Omo-Agege for daring to confront him on the amendment to the Electoral act regarding election sequence in the 2019 general elections. Which, according to Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, “was targeted at President Muhammadu Buhari.” It was Saraki’s bridge too far, an error that is to cost him his seat in the Senate, his hold on the Kwara state hegemony and possibly.
Bukola Saraki and his cabal were on a march to suspend other senators including Senator Abdullahi Adamu, who were duly elected by their people to represent their constituencies in the Red legislative chamber. An aberration!
An unholy page has been inserted into the history of our country! His plan A was to impeach President Muhammadu Buhari or fall on plan B, which was to change the election sequence targeted again, at President Muhammadu Buhari. Hmm, the cabals at play!
But Senator Ovie Omo-Agege rose to the occasion! He associated with other ‘good men’ to oppose the ‘cabals’ and protected our democracy from the damnation of the Senate President! Like Senator Ali Ndume, he not only went to court to challenge the unconstitutionality of Saraki’s action but also stood firm to protect his right as a senator representing the Urhobo people in the Nigerian Senate. He stood and defended President Muhammadu Buhari with visible scars as monuments of his bravery! In the United Kingdom, he would have been awarded a Knighthood for defending the Crown!
Who knows what Saraki would have done if not challenged and checkmated by Senator Ovie Omo-Agege? Maybe, he could have used his cabal to overthrow President Muhammadu Buhari at the 2019 elections. Maybe he could have become another autocrat in Aso Villa. Just maybe! Maybe!!
History will remember Senator Ovie Omo-Agege as one of the protectors of our democracy, who was bruised, battered and scarred in the face by the ‘Cabals’ led by the ‘baby face senator’ from Kwara state, Dr Bukola Saraki. Posterity will remember the Urhobo Senator from Oromuru – Orogun, in Delta State.
During a wartime speech on 20 August 1940, Winston Churchill proclaimed: “Never was so much owed by so many to so few.” Senator Ovie Omo-Agege and his ‘few good men’ are the defenders of our democracy!
Abdulsalam wrote in from Abuja