Hammed Shittu writes that the Kwara State House of Assembly has started moves that may renew open hostility between the Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrasaq-led administration and the Saraki family.
When the administration of Governor Adulrahman Abdulrasaq assumed office on May 29, this year, he vowed that in order to move the state forward, he will be fair to all irrespective of political affiliation.
The vow was greeted with loud ovation and commendation among the teeming masses of the state. The promise was taken as a demonstration of willingness of the administration to bring peace, unity and progress to the state.
With time, the pledge made by the administration started to change and this has continued to give residents of the state some concern. Many residents of the state are eager to know what made the governor to have a change of mind.
The new direction of the Abdulrasaq administration in Kwara has been revealed by recent events. First, it was the resolution of the house of assembly urging the governor to revoke ownership of a four bedroom bungalow, located along Alimi Road, GRA, Ilorin belonging to the former Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki.
The chalet was sold to former Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki when he was the governor of the state and the sale of property was said to have followed due process.
The revocation came after the acquisition, valuation and certification of land title (Right of Occupancy) in respect of the chalet was rendered void for non compliance with the provisions of Pensions Law 2010.
These were part of the resolutions of the House, following the presentation of the report of the House Committee on Lands, Housing and Urban Development, by its Chairman, Hon. Omotayo Felix Awodiji on the floor of the House.
Reading the resolutions of the House, Speaker Yakubu Danladi Salihu said the revocation became expedient to ensure an enduring end to all forms of illegalities and abnormalities to pave way for meaningful development of the state.
The House then urged the state government to immediately explore every available legal process to recover the chalet from the former Governor.
The Chairman of the House Committee on Land, Housing and Urban Development while presenting his report observed among other things that the Alimi Chalet was purposely built by the state government as a Guest Chalet for sitting governors and not transferable as exit package for any outgoing governor. According to him, the chalet does not fit into the recommendations of the Pension Law of 2010.
He, however, explained that the House was not probing former Senate President but only mandated its standing Committee to investigate the ownership of Alimi Chalet.
Other members who spoke on the report eulogised the Committee for carrying out a thorough assignment and urged the House to adopt its recommendations with a view to recovering the chalet from a private hand.
But a source close to Saraki said, "What is the big deal about this bungalow? At least, government has since broken into the house long before now and the Deputy Governor has been living inside the bungalow.
"Did their report state that the property was illegally acquired? No, it is just that the Governor and his people are interested in the house and they can have it, if it makes them feel better."
While that matter was being resolved, the state house of assembly again moved to the property of the father of the former Senate President, Late Dr. Olusola Saraki located at Ilofa GRA, Ilorin where they alleged that, the acquisition of the said property did not pass through normal due process at the time the property was released to the former strongman of Kwara politics in the year 1992 by the former governor, Mohammed Shana Lafiagi
The property is located opposite the country home of the late politician in Ilorin.
The property is also housing the popular "Ile Arugbo" and serves as the major campaign office of the Saraki political dynasty.
This is where the late Dr. Olusola Saraki and the immediate past Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki used to address their followers on salient political issues and decisions.
It is the same venue where the Sarakis used to distribute gifts to the aged every last Thursday of every month. This is where the name "Ile Arugbo" emanated.
The property it was gathered passed due process during that time before it was acquired by the late politician.
But, the state house of assembly recently in its resolution on the floor of the House asked Governor Abdulrasaq to acquire the land.
The call for take over of the expansive land by the state government formed part of the resolutions of the House, following a consideration of a report titled “Illegal Acquisition, Appropriation and Conversion of Government Property with Survey No. KWG.927 And LAN/G. 1071 situated at Iloffa Road by Civil Service Clinic, GRA Ilorin, by private individual presented by the committee's chairman, Hon. Felix Awodiji,at the floor of the House.
The Speaker, Hon. Yakubu Salihu while reading the resolutions of the House explained that the need to take over the land became expedient to ensure that the land was used for the purpose for which it was originally meant.
The House also unanimously called on the state governor to declare the allocation of the property to Asa Investment Limited void for non compliance with due process.
The chairman of the committee, Hon Felix Awodiji while presenting the report observed among other things that the "Ile Arugbo" mentioned in the petition was in the middle of the site plan submitted by the Bureau of Land and Surveyor- General's Office that the allocation of the piece of land to Asa Investment Limited was done by executive fiat as there was no evidence of payment and no title regarding the land had been processed till date.
It will be noted that, since the passage of the two resolutions on the affected properties in the state, members of the public have accused the present administration of embarking on political vendetta.
They claim that, such action would not move the state forward, but will rather create crises among the people.
Some of them who spoke on condition of anonymity decried the alleged move saying that, "Late Dr. Olusola Saraki was a political icon that should be respected no matter the political differences between his son and former Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki and the present governor".
They said that, "Late Olusola Saraki has contributed immensely to the development and growth of Ilorin and should not be insulted by any person in the state."
They called for restraint on the move and allow peace to reign supreme in Ilorin and the entire state.
Also, the main opposition party, PDP in the state has condemned the move in its entirety
In a statement issued in Ilorin on the move signed by its state Chairman, Hon. Kola Shittu, the party described the action of the legislature as ill-conceived, malicious and another indication that Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq was all out on a vendetta mission.
The PDP accused Governor Abdulrazaq of using the state legislature to pursue his vendetta mission against the Saraki family and members of the opposition in the state, which it said was evident in the illegal suspension of elected local government chairmen and the dissolution of duly constituted statutory commissions.
"For the avoidance of doubt, the property in question, popularly called 'Ile-Arugbo' was duly acquired several years ago by Baba Saraki, who in his lifetime, contributed a lot to the development and progress of the state.
"The move by the All Progressives Congress, APC-led government to revoke the building is ill-advised, malicious and further shows that Governor Abdulrazaq was pursuing a vendetta mission. The revocation of the house can, therefore, not be said to be in the best interest of the state.
"As a party, we urge Governor Abdulrazaq to have a rethink and should understand that he was elected to move the state forward and not to pursue vendetta. He should steer clear of issues and actions that do not elevate the interests and development of people of the state.
“The governor needs to eschew bitterness and belligerence that have characterized his style of governance. A word they say, is enough for the wise."
By and large, with this unfolding development in the state, it will be interesting to see if Governor Abdulrasaq will go with the state house of assembly to re-acquire the property of late Olusola Saraki? Will the daughter of the late politician, a chieftain of the APC and now Minister of State for Transportation, Senator Gbemisola Saraki close her eyes as her father's legacy is rubbished?
It will be noted that, since the passage of the two resolutions on the affected properties in the state, members of the public have accused the present administration of embarking on political vendetta. They claim that such action would not move the state forward, but will rather create crises among the people.