It is almost certain that Senate President Bukola Saraki will now leave the All Progressives Congress (APC). If there had been any doubt over the past year, the second invitation by the Inspector General Police, Ibrahim Idris, served on him at 8pm Monday must be the decider that makes his defection final.
Saraki’s statement reacting to the IGP’s request that he reports to the Police headquarters on Tuesday morning is blistering in a way that suggests there will be no going back. He has effectively dropped bombs on the APC, referring to it as “a party where members are criminalised without just cause”. That description rips off every veil and patch that has been put up in the past week to portray reconciliation between the Executive and Saraki. Patience and goodluck may be close like hair and skin but this is Saraki, having had enough, tearing bandage off hairy skin.
Saraki seemed as good as gone from the APC from the time he had to defend himself at the Code of Conduct Tribunal on cases of failure to declare his assets, but the timing to make it formal has gradually become appropriate recently. The charges levelled against him by the Police in connection to the Offa robbery have opened up the wounds and uncomfortable relationships simmering for months. While he appears to be willing to cooperate with the Police and make himself available for questioning, it is easy to see this as his final acts under the same party with President Muhammadu Buhari under whose command the Nigeria Police is.
Strategic and sensitive, Saraki knows that staying put in the APC for another term in which Buhari could be president is as much a risk to his freedom as it could be the suicide of his political career. What will be in play for him when Buhari has nothing to lose if with elections to come he has been hounded by the Police? Buhari did hail Saraki for his Supreme Court vindication and invited him to the Villa for the mending of fences a few days ago, but that meeting appears not to have given the president and his advisers any comforts as to Saraki’s posture in relation to 2019.
At least this is what Saraki believes when he says in his statement that the matter of his alliance in the coming polls is not something he will determine alone, the suggestion being that the Presidency’s offer for him to stick with its 2019 plans will take more than one-on-one meetings. In any case, Saraki seems too far gone away from the APC project to be pliable, having recently met with members of the PDP, the party from which he moved to the APC in 2014. He has the ears of the so-called R-APC members and there is a real chance that many defections as it will take to weaken the APC in the Senate could occur in the coming weeks.
Whatever becomes of his meeting with the Police, there is no escaping the feeling of finality about Saraki’s relationship with the APC and president Buhari. It is shaping up to be a combative eight months ahead of the coming elections as interests and alliances are re-ordered. Moves being made to stop Saraki in his tracks are rather simple manifestations of political divorces especially when they involve the highest-ranking power couples. Hell hath no fury like a Commander-in-chief scorned.