Last week was a good one for the senate president, Bukola Saraki. He got positive reviews for the empathy shown to the family of a youth corps member who was killed in Abuja by a policeman. He was also applauded for the senate’s resolution to open conversations and possible amendment to the constitution in favour of state police.
But the biggest news of the week for him came on Friday when the Supreme Court in a unanimous ruling acquitted him of all the charges against him in the false assets declaration suit filed by the federal government. After almost three years of legal action, the court ruled that the senate president does not have a case to answer.
The next day Saraki travelled to Port Harcourt, the capital of Rivers state which is governed by one of the most influential opposition governors in the country, Nyesom Wike. He laid the foundation for the construction of the Fertiliser Train 2 of Indorama Eleme Fertiliser and Chemical Limited, and also commissioned the 12.2km Obiri-Ikwerre Airport Road in Port Harcourt.
Why it matters
- The two most vocal PDP governors: Saraki is widely expected to leave the ruling APC soon alongside some of his former comrades in the nPDP faction of the party. So his visit to Port Harcourt where he not only met Wike, but also met Ayo Fayose, the combative PDP governor of Ekiti is very instructive. He felt really at ease amongst them. Recall that his victory at the Supreme Court has also been well received by the PDP as opposed to his own party.
- The governors endorse Saraki: In Port Harcourt, Gov. Fayose said that the PDP is “behind Saraki” and told the Senate President that APC is now “a spent vehicle” that can no longer take him to the expected destination. He said it was high time the Senate President returned to the “vibrant PDP.” On his part, Gov. Wike said that Rivers people will always stand by Saraki. He criticised the government over the “frame-up of the Senate President for armed robbery”, saying that such an action has negative consequences for the country.
- The APC was blasted in Saraki’s presence… he did not seem to mind: Apart from Fayose who described the APC as a “spent vehicle”, Wike pointedly told Saraki that his party, the APC, has failed Nigerians and also failed to deliver on its promises to Nigerians. The senate president did not defend his party, after all, what Wike said was not any different from Saraki’s own comments on Friday when he described the last three years of APC leadership as “wasted years across board.“
- Saraki endorsed Wike in a roundabout way: Saraki hailed Wike for the quality of work in the state and said “it is obvious that Governor Wike is focused and has the Rivers people fully on his side. I like the example that Rivers people are setting for others to follow.” While flagging off the Indorama project, Saraki said that just as Wike was in office when Train 1 of the project was commissioned, he would also be in office when the Train 2 is commissioned in 2021. The statement was taken by the Rivers government as a “tacit endorsement.”
- Almost time to fight: One theme that kept being repeated in Port Harcourt was that the PDP is ready to “join hands with Saraki to fight the forces of darkness.” Gov. Wike also said, in reference to the Saraki prosecution that, “any Government that does not respect the rule of law is the most corrupt government. This is because you cannot fight corruption without the rule of law.”