Last Thursday, Kwara people evicted their ‘’Leader’’, Bukola Saraki, from the Eid-el Kabir prayer ground. They pelted him with rocks and sachets of pure water and taunted him with screams of ‘’Thief! Thief! Thief!’’
It was a spontaneous denouncement from folks who ordinarily should be star-struck by the Godfather’s presence. His own people, who know him better than the rest of the country, renamed him ‘’Ole!’’ and banished him.
The overall tone of the people was, ‘’ Saraki, you don’t belong here. You belong to the prison.’’
His expulsion was a rude, disempowering reality check. He never saw it coming.
After he was docked on the charges of accumulating stolen assets by the Code of Conduct Bureau in Abuja, ‘’Senate President’’ Saraki raced back to Ilorin, the one place he was sure he would always be feted like a celebrity. He had calculated that featuring in the largest Eid-el Kabir congregation would rehabilitate his image.
Saraki had imagined that at the end of the prayers, Ilorin atmosphere would burst into noisy. The congregants will hail him. They will curse Aso Rock for ‘’witch-hunting’’ him. And the triumphal scene would cancel out his humiliation in Abuja’s accused box two days before.
Of course, his celebration by everybody would establish that toying with Saraki might spark a civil war because Kwarans are ready to die in defense of the honor of their only begotten ‘’Leader’’!
Until his baptism of stones, Saraki thought he had Kwarans figured out. He could have sworn that they were in awe of him –as always. He had foreclosed the possibility the people might be legitimately riled by the revelation of how viciously he had robbed them as governor.
So when the people’s stones shattered his presumptions, he was too ashamed to admit that he had become a persona non grata in Kwara.
He caused his spin doctors to create and disseminate the fiction that said he was neither the target of the assault nor was he remotely touched by the assault. The attack was about a swarm of ‘’hoodlums’’ who had besieged the prayer ground to extort money from VIPs. Saraki only happened to be at the scene.
A lot of amateur videos easily put paid to that denial.
The videos showed an uprising. A throng of people casting stones animatedly. They did it irreverently and religiously – as though fulfilling the holy obligation to stone fallen Lucifer.
Saraki’s denial of his stoning was more than a desperate PR move. It’s more than a proof that his kind of ‘’Senate President’’ has no compunction about authoring brazen falsehood. His denial predominantly speaks to Saraki’s faith in his own exceptionalism.
Saraki, believes that by the virtue of being Saraki, he was automatically exempted from public humiliation. Thus, he instinctively invoked the equivalent of a ‘’It’s A Lie!’’, the exclamation that the average Naija youth uses to salute a reality that their psychology is loathe to welcome.
We hear that Saraki’s protégé and successor, Abdulfatah Ahmed, the incumbent Governor of Kwara State, opted to not to show up at the Ilorin prayer ground because he had intuited that Kwarans were going to disgrace him for starving civil servants of their wages.
Ahmed reportedly warned Saraki to pray elsewhere too: There was a glut of fury in Ilorin. The people would be delighted to avenge Saraki’s robbery of their treasury. Saraki spurned the advisory.
Saraki thought, ‘’I Am The Kwaran Idol! The people adore me. The people worship me. They have nothing but respect for me.’’
He had discounted the damage his CCT arraignment has done to him. He had not reckoned that being caged in the accused box demystified him and exposed his feet of clay.
He was also out of touch with Kwarans. He didn’t sense that his community wasn’t bewailing his trial. His kith and kin were rather wishing that it devolves into the emasculation of the man who micromanages their state like his private fiefdom.
It was natural for Saraki to be hostage to the idea of his invincibility. He was Bukola, son of Olusola Saraki. Heir to Oloye’s mystique. He was reigning in the stead of his late father. The state of Kwara and the fate of Kwarans were in the hollow of his hands.
Apart from his heritage of dominion, Saraki’s clique of sycophants was also working overtime to stoke his illusion of his universal appeal. After his CCT appearance, they ferried a mammoth delegation from Ilorin to Abuja to bestow an emergency chieftaincy title on him. Their twin goals were to give Saraki an emotional high and to telegraph the notion that his trial was counterproductive: It was serving to skyrocket Saraki’s profile.
The Saturday before Sarki’s appearance at CCT, one Kayode Yusuf, one of Saraki’s surrogate, announced that everybody in Kwara was importuning ‘’God’’ to save their ‘’Leader’’. He said, ‘’ all of us in Ilorin, including the Chief Imam of Ilorin, are involved in the prayers. Saraki is our leader. He must not go down. Within the short time he was elevated as the Senate President, we know what we have benefitted from him.
‘’I have mobilized more than 500 Imams and over 1000 others are praying in different areas. They have been praying and fasting. Even the women are praying for him. Saraki is our benefactor. Even the uneducated do not want anything to happen to Bukola Saraki. They are not sleeping but praying. The prayers will last till Saraki’s ordeal is over.’’
Like Ifeanyi Uba’s promissory note of millions of ghost signatures convinced former President Goodluck Jonathan that majority of Nigerians support ted his second term aspiration, Yusuf’s boast of a multitude of pro-Saraki intercessors would have also led Saraki to think that the home fans were rooting for him.
And so he came to join the company of the prayer warriors. Not knowing he had walked into a trap. Not knowing he had gifted Kwarans an opportunity to unleash their pent-up anger on him.
One worshipper deflowered the myth. He pivoted from the spiritual to the physical. He stooped down and picked a stone. Stood up and flung it at the tin god. Other worshippers saw an Impossibility unravel before their eyes. They subscribed. And a cascade of stones ensued.
Kwara State Government –against Saraki’s claim that he was not assaulted –called his stoning in the midst of prayers ‘’unIslamic ‘’. That is, the stoners were bad muslims for not ignoring Saraki’s provocative presence. They were ungodly for not saying their prayers and departing in peace.
The people would beg to differ.
Their action was as Islamic as hewing to the Koran. Saraki was a Satan incarnate. They stoned him as a righteous obligation.
But if Saraki was somewhat better than a Devil, the people had to save their prayer ground from desecration. It was their virtuous duty to force the evacuation of a character who was trespassing on a holy ground he was unqualified to tread on. They could not possibly undo his appropriation of their collective assets, but they would not harbor him in their spiritual space.
Kwaran muslims conceive of Saraki as a muslim in name only. They sacked him from the prayer ground with shouts of ‘’Ole!’’ because they are persuaded that his true religion was thievery.
He had come to the largest muslim congregation in Kwara State because he needed to dramatize to as many muslims as possible that he was one of them: ‘‘Look at all I am passing through! Yet, I am here to fellowship with you!’’. He was there to tell Ilorin muslims that his ordeal was their ordeal: That they were obligated to rally behind their homeboy, against the muslim from Duara.
It was the quintessential Saraki, the rogue who milks his profession of Islam in times of political trouble.
On Friday, July 17, 2015, he installed himself near President Buhari, at the Eid-el-Fitri prayers in Abuja. He needed to procure a photo-op to help alleviate the illegitimacy of his fraudulent emergence as ‘’Senate President’’. The pictures of him praying beside Buhari were supposed to show that the two had become buddies.
His Abuja prayer pictures were not efficacious. His attempt to hijack Ilorin prayer session boomeranged. An indication that his faux religion has failed.
That anonymous fellow changed Kwara when he cast the first stone. He challenged an orthodoxy that had never ever been queried. He opened the prologue of a revolution that ran Kwarans’ Enemy Number One out of town.
The imperative of this stone exorcism is that Saraki is now… a refugee.
He has lost Abuja. He has lost Ilorin. And he is good position to lose the many homes he purchased with Kwara’s patrimony.
The stones Kwarans hauled at Saraki at the Ilorin prayer ground are his gravestone. The man is finished, home and away. He has no sanctuary in Kwara because the people have wised up: They would no longer acquiesce to the intrusion of his person, his politics and his ‘’piety’’ into their lives.
Emmanuel Uchenna Ugwu
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