On July 4, 2018, youth corps member Linda Igwetu was returning home with her friends following a night out in Abuja, when they ran into a police cordon.
Minutes later, a police officer pulled the trigger on Ms. Igwetu. She was rushed to the hospital, but doctors said she was far too gone to be kept alive. Before dawn, Igwetu was pronounced dead.
On Thursday, Senate President Bukola Saraki put a phone call across to the late Igwetu’s sister, expressing his condolence in an emotion laden tone.Of course it was all scripted, it was done for the optics and it was a textbook PR stunt, but they all count in governance or politics.
Political leaders across the world do a lot of things for the gram to display an emotional connection with the people. It is in the toolkit of a modern 21st century politician to be adept at perception management and to give off emotional vibes. And Saraki does that better than most.
Saraki is suave, urbane and tech savvy. He also learnt a lot of politicking from his late Dad Olusola Saraki. Nigeria's senate president was born into politics and politicking.
You can question his motives all day long, but history will remember that Saraki showed leadership and displayed empathy when one was most needed by a bereaved family who have just lost a daughter to the carelessness and stupidity of an officer of the State.
And if you’ve been following Saraki’s political career closely, you will know he’s up to something. His rise through the power corridors has been carefully scripted and crafted by the man himself. He’s got loads of ambition and he knows what it means to seize the moment. And that's more than can be said of your favourite Nigerian politician.
Every political leader should borrow from Saraki’s political playbook. It's the way the game is played these days.
This is also hoping that the police officer who killed Igwetu is made to face the full weight of the law. May Igwetu's soul rest in peace and may her family find the fortitude to bear this irreparable loss at this difficult time.