The late strongman of Kwara politics and Senate leader in the Second Republic, Dr Abubakar Olusola Saraki, popularly called "Oloye" "resurrected" in Ilorin on Wednesday, May 17, during his 84th post humous birthday as his teeming followers from all walks of life gathered to inaugurate "Sola Saraki Educational Foundation" and donated about N50m for the take-off.
*Late Saraki Though his widow, Chief Mrs Florence Morenike Saraki, sent N1m to support the cause, none of the children of the deceased politician was physically present or sent donation .
An imposing edifice, Fou ndation House, has already been secured as the headquarters of the Sola Saraki Educational Foundation at Fate, GRA, Ilorin, while the staff have been recruited to execute the vision.
Members of the Board of Trustees of the Foundation include Chief Tunji Arosanyin, a bosom friend of the late Saraki; Alhaji Saka Opobiyi; Otunba Edward Adedapo Ibidapo; Alhaji Mohammed Bashir Saliu; Sheik Aminulahi Tantolohun Imam and Mr Koye Sogbola.
Others are Senator Ahmed Mohammed,Dr(Mrs) Zainab Ambali,Ambassador Nimota Nihinlola Akanbi and Alhaji Ladi Hassan. Even though Senate President Bukola Saraki, one of the children of the deceased was not physically present at the occasion, majority of the donors were his beneficiaries.
Arosanyin seized the occasion to renew the clamour to rename Kwara State University (KWASU) after the former Senate Leader. He argued that legislative processes had been concluded for the name-change since 2013 and should be implemented without delay.
Arosanye, who recalled participating in the public debate on the bill by lawmakers in Kwara to rename KWASU after Saraki, said he had been expectant, like many other followers of the late politician, that the state government would act on the bill.
"People who know the contributions of Saraki to Kwara State since its creation until he was called to glory are anxiously waiting for the positive decision of Kwara state government in the re-naming, especially when other states in Nigeria are honouring their leaders in such ways", he said.
About N50 million was realised at the event with the state government donating N15 million. Other donors include the state House of Assembly (N10m); the Deputy Senate Minority Leader, Senator Biodun Olujimi (N10m) and Alhaji Moshood Mustapha (N2m). Senate President Bukola Saraki was represented at the event by the All Progressive Congress (APC) stalwart, Alhaji Kawu Baraje.
The Chairman of the event, Senator Dino Melaye was absent and no donation was announced for either the Senate President or Melaye but Baraje donated N1milion in his personal capacity.
Baraje, addressing the occasion, said the late political leader was a gift from God to humanity and urged Nigerian politicians to emulate his virtues so that the country could be a better place for everybody to live in.
He added that the indelible marks the late politician left behind in the state and even Nigeria as a whole will be there for generations to come to see.
Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed, in his speech, poured encomiums on the late politician who he described as a legendary philanthropist and a father of all, irrespective of tribe,religion or status. He noted that the foundation, which would aid the academic achievements of the less privileged,especially in medical line in the state, is a step in the right direction as education is a foundation of human existence.
Ahmed recalled that the late politician contributed substantially to the educational achievements of many of his followers,and even Kwara State and urged his followers from far and near to support the foundation.
In his address,the convener of the ten-member Board of Trustees, Sola Saraki Educational Foundation, Hon Ladi Hassan, said the idea came to him in 2010 during the second term tenure of Dr. Bukola Saraki as governor when he directed his political appointees to empower their constituencies with skills and items.
He explained: "The drawbacks were numerous as most of the items eventually ended up at various markets in return for cash.For this reason among others,i felt I should do something different and still achieve the desired or targeted objective. This primarily was the off-shoot of this desire in establishing a foundation.
"More importantly,something struck my mind that we,followers and associates of late Dr Abubakar Olusola Saraki have not done enough to immortalise our leader. mentor, father and benefactor who had given so much to us and who had given all his life to the common people.
"To me,establishing a foundation thus become the most desirable in honouring him in such a way that his name will remain indelible in the minds of several Nigerians and mankind from one generation to another".
Hassan said the objective of the foundation is to sponsor indigent medical students pursuing MBBS degree in Nigerian universities,by giving full scholarship to cover the period of their studies.
"We also plan endowment of academic chairs in medicine in some Nigerian universities and University of London where Dr. Saraki obtained his MBBS degree in 1962".