End of Saraki Dynasty?

Date: 2014-11-05

As we published earlier in the year, apart from Akinjide, Shagari, Kashim Ibrahim, Akintola, Fani-kayode, Mbadiwe, Ajasin families, Awolowo and a few others, the Olusola Saraki family of Kwara State, has remained politically relevant in the annals of Nigerian history from the First Republic through the military era to the present political dispensation that began in 1999... - By Arowona Abdulazeez

As we published earlier in the year, apart from Akinjide, Shagari, Kashim Ibrahim, Akintola, Fani-kayode, Mbadiwe, Ajasin families, Awolowo and a few others, the Olusola Saraki family of Kwara State, has remained politically relevant in the annals of Nigerian history from the First Republic through the military era to the present political dispensation that began in 1999.  

However, this exalted position hitherto graciously occupied by the Saraki family is now irredeemably threatened by alleged inordinate ambition and politics of Dr. Bukola Saraki, the eldest son of Honourable Olusola Saraki, prided strong man of Kwara politics, the scion of the dynasty who died about two years ago. Latest events in the state show that the people of Kwara State have resolved to secure their political freedom through the ballot box next year.

 

Bukola as Architect of Saraki Dynasty’s Fall 

Former Kwara State Governor, Dr. Bukola Saraki, is a chieftain of the All Progressive Congress, APC, who ruled Kwara State between 2003 and 2011 on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and later picked the Senatorial ticket to represent Kwara Central succeeding his sister, Senator Gbemisola Saraki. As the eldest son of the late political sage, leader of Kwara politics and Waziri of Ilorin, Dr. Olusola Saraki, a distinguished Senator of the federal republic and Chairman Senate Committee on Environment and Ecology, Bukola Saraki also perceived as a politician with many troubles cutting across all levels of political endeavours.

His numerous problems, as revealed by investigation, emanated from his immediate constituency where he served as governor for eight years of two-term following his alleged arrogance and lack of respect for the elders of the Ilorin Emirate an act which earned him more foes than ever before. 

This is evident in an interview by a PDP chieftain and President General of Orisun Igbomina, Chief Gbenga Awoyale. He disclosed, “My reservations against Bukola Saraki are not in any way personal; rather I am concerned about the well-being of my fellow Kwarans at large and teeming youths as well as generations yet unborn in particular.

“Although, we were friends and he started well as a governor between 2003 and 2007, when he was seeking re-election in 2007, he came to me and gave me his words. 

Then, some aspirants also emerged from Kwara South where I come from. People like Colonel Theophilus Bamigboye, Mr. Gbenga Olawepo and Senator Suleiman Ajadi and I had to tell them to relax their ambition and support Bukola in his second term bid. I also told them that it was his constitutional right to seek re-election. There and then, I was tagged as enemy of my people by supporting a Kwara Central candidate. That was the fact. Immediately Bukola was re-elected, he started behaving in such a strange manner and has no respect for anyone again.

Chief Awoyale further stressed that, “It is the same person that is now against the re-election of President Goodluck Jonathan. I asked him for complete two months for the reasons he is against Mr. President, I told him to show me the document purportedly signed by President Jonathan that he would not re-contest in 2015 but he could not provide it.

“I make bold to say that any lapses found in the current administration led by Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed is the handiwork of Bukola Saraki because he is so fond of himself and starkly selfish.

“Kwara State is so backward among its contemporaries due to the kind of leaders we have at the helms of affairs. They are so desperate and fearless of God. They do not have the interest of the people at heart. 

“All they embark on are policies that will continue to enslave the people. The highest job the Kwara State government can offer graduates is Clean and Green, KWABES among other menial jobs.

“They have failed to revive the moribund industries while little ones they initiated with state resources have been transferred to private ownership to the advantage of Senator Bukola Saraki.

“I challenge him to tell the world who is running Kwara Hotels? Who owns Shoprite, Amusement Park, Park ‘n Shop and Shonga Farms-to mention a few. In fact, this accounts for the reason why Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed was adjudged by an online media as the most powerless governor in Nigeria. He doesn’t have any idea of his own, although, he is sound and has the ability to deliver but only for the factor of his political “godfather”.

The Igbomina chieftain continued, “The under-development of Kwarans was borne out of the fact that certain resources allocated to the State are being mismanaged by the government in which Bukola Saraki is a the major factor. Although, recently, I asked them through a press statement to account for some funds made available by the federal government for the betterment of the people of the state. Unfortunately, up till now, they couldn’t provide reasonable answers to the questions.

“This is because, since former Governor Bukola Saraki came to power in 2003, there have been renovation of some classrooms and as I’m speaking with you after eight years of his own tenure, they couldn’t finish it and his successor has also continued in the last three years, he is still on it.

“What are they doing with MDGs fund? So tell me, who is fooling who? Is it good in Kwara? The answer is no! Similarly, if you go to Minna, Ado-Ekiti and Lokoja among other areas, you will see Keke NAPEP and luxurious buses with SURE-P boldly written on them. I know that SURE-P is a federal government project but I’m also aware that there is state intervention fund. Where is that of Kwara State, what have they used it for?

If there is any miracle they have performed with our money, then, let us know at least, we are Kwarans and we have the right to ask question on what is not clear.

“Also, we have discovered how Bukola Saraki packed all the SAFE TRIP luxurious bus meant for Kwara State to Lagos State for business with Governor Raji Fashola. This act is not only embarrassing to us as a people, but it is also fraudulent.”

He has so wrecked Kwara State government’s account that recently, the state government took a loan of N 100 million each for the existing 16 Local Government Areas and released just N20 million to them. As I speak with you, local government councils cannot execute a single project not to talk of paying workers’ salary.

“All this money are been diverted for Bukola’s private use. What accounts for this is the lavish lifestyle he is living with the resources of Kwarans. Is he the only former governor or serving Senator that he cannot board commercial airline unless he charters at the expenses of the vast majority of Kwarans.

“Just recently when going for the APC rally in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Senator Saraki and Governor Ahmed used two separate chartered flights while over 60 buses were also used to mobilise supporter to the event. This is nothing but crazy ideology. The Kwara State government is paying his flight bills and that of his families. What a mess and dehumanising attitude. He never contributed anything to the society rather he came to milk therein. He was lucky to have ridden on the back of his late father and goodwill of some of his friends to get the governorship slot in 2003.

“I want Nigerians to ask him, where are his old friends, associates and people who showed him all the nooks and crannies of Ilorin and Kwara state at large and introduced him to the system when he was a stranger?

“How did he reward Atiku Abubakar who facilitated his victory in 2003 and his late father who fought vigorously to bring him to limelight in Kwara and Nigerian politics?

He doesn’t reward excellent performance but he can go to any length to ensure that he uses you and dump you to extent of not being relevant even to your immediate family.

“Bukola Saraki has not only been seen by many as an arrogant young man but he has also portrayed himself as a “small god” who must be worshiped by the people in order to determine their survival. He recently organised 50th birthday party for his wife first in Ilorin, later in Lagos and London. This is nothing but callous and crazy thinking.” 

 

Sarakis Not From Kwara State?

In the new offensive against the Saraki family, an undying sentiment that the late Dr. Olusola Saraki is from Ogun and not from Kwara State is in the air all over the state.  And, it is being used as a political arsenal in political circles in Kwara. It would be recalled that the first lawyer to wear the silk in the northern Nigeria and Mutawali of Ilorin, Alhaji AbdulGaniyu Folorunsho AbdulRazaq (SAN), in an interview granted to one of the national media extensively revealed the true indigeneship of the Sarakis to the Ilorin community saying they are from Abeokuta, Ogun State.

As published and widely read, Alhaji AGF AbdulRazaq said thus, “Well, in 1962, I was appointed Ambassador of Nigeria to Cote d’Ivoire and one of those who met me at the port as part of the Nigerian community in Abidjan turned out to be the father of Olusola Saraki, Alhaji Muttahiru Saraki.

“As an ambassador there, my second secretary at the embassy, Ignatius Olisemeka, who later became Foreign Affairs Minister, led officials of the embassy to meet me. That was around September or October 1962. In those days, there was only one flight from Lagos to other West African countries. Ships plied the coast of West Africa, carrying some passengers.

“One of the ships named General Mangaine travelled on the West African coast, stopping at principal ports. After leaving the Cameroons, it came to Lagos, where I went aboard together with Ado Ibrahim, who is now the Emir of Kano (late Emir of Kano). Both of us were appointed the same day as ambassadors. He to Senegal, I to Ivory Coast. We went with our respective families, stopping at several ports along the way until we finally disembarked at Abidjan. 

“So, I observed that the crowd that came to meet me at the port was divided into two and members of each group had flags of different colours, saying, “Welcome, our ambassador.” One group had white and the other, green. And they were supposed to be a Nigerian community welcoming their ambassador.

Then, Olisemeka, my secretary, took me to my official residence. He was more like a permanent secretary to me. He was like a permanent secretary is to a minister. When we got home, he showed me the rooms along with my children and wife. Later, I called Olisemeka and asked why members of the Nigerian community that came to meet me were waving different banners and were standing apart, not mixing. He said I was very perceptive. I asked if they were divided and he said they were. 

“He explained that the division was caused by a fight over who would lead the Nigerian community. When I asked who the contenders were, he said one was called Alhaji Muttahiru Saraki, while the other was Emmanuel Alabi.

So, I told Olisemeka that one of my first duties would be to see Alhaji Muttahiru Saraki and Emmanuel Alabi. And I said I would see only the two of them and not their supporters at 10a.m. the next day. 

“On getting to the embassy in the morning and settling down in my office, Olisemeka came to tell me that the two gentlemen had arrived. He then brought in Muttahiru Saraki, who sat on my right, Alabi on the left. I thanked them for welcoming me on my arrival and told them that my secretary, also present, told me that the two of them were fighting over the leadership of the community. I said I was not prepared to work with a divided community. 

“I also told them that I had not invited them to the embassy to hear why they were fighting. I said from their looks, Muttahiru Saraki would be the older person. And because of that, I said I was recognising him as the leader of the community. And against my expectation, Alabi stood up and prostrated before Saraki, holding his leg and saying, ‘I accept you as my leader.’ And I told him he would be Saraki’s deputy.

“Alabi then asked for permission to say something and I asked him to go on. He said nobody ever called the two of them together to discuss the matter. And Alhaji Saraki said he accepted him as his deputy.

“I later thanked them and they went away together. About a week later, Olisemeka came to me saying he wanted to thank me for the resolution of the problem between Muttahiru Saraki and Alabi. He said it was like a miracle and that within a week, he had seen a reduction, to about one per cent, in consular problems like fighting between Nigerians, going to police stations and so on. From then on, throughout my stay there as ambassador, I went to the mosque to say my Friday prayers with Alhaji Muttahiru Saraki. 

“I’d go out of my way to take Alhaji Saraki from his house and we’d drive to the mosque together. After prayers, I also brought him back. Naturally, the relationship between the two of us blossomed. Then one Sunday, my guard, a policeman, came and said there was an old man who wanted to see me and his name was Saraki.

He then brought in Muttahiru Saraki and we started to talk. Then he asked me where I come from. I told him I am from Ilorin. Alhaji Saraki said he was an Egba man from Abeokuta. By this time, I did not even know the existence of Olusola Saraki. So, the man told me he was from Abeokuta, but he went to a Quranic school in Ilorin at Agbaji, an area of reputed for Islamic scholarship. The man, with his own mouth, told me he was an Egba man from Abeokuta. And as of that time, I knew of no existence of any member of his family. This was in early 1963. “So, we carried on like that.

The fact that I resolved the problem between him and Alabi helped us a great deal for our consular cases. As the leader of the Nigerian community and being older than me, Saraki, at my request, always sat by my side wherever I went in my capacity as Nigeria’s representative. At a point, members of the Nigerian community were calling him deputy ambassador and he enjoyed that. Anywhere I went officially, I took him along. 

“When I was going to present my letters of credence to the head of state (Houphouet-Boigny) I took him along, too. Incidentally, President Houphouet-Boigny was a medical doctor and had been Saraki’s doctor before he became President. They knew each other before I came on the scene. After the man entered, politics and he became minister and later, president, they saw less of each other. So it was a great reunion for them on that day. Of course, the news quickly spread that the “deputy ambassador” was a friend to the president. We carried on like that and had a good personal relationship.

Speaking further about late Olusola Saraki’s wife, AGF AbdulRazaq said, “The wife that I know with Sola Saraki that he brought to my house in 1964, when he became a doctor, did not have a job. I was then a minister, living at No 2 Thompson Road, Ikoyi. He brought his wife, saying they had just come together from England. 

“And I got the wife a job through my friend and colleague in the cabinet, who was the Minister for Establishment. That was the first job of Morenike, the mother of Gbemi. And the mother of Gbemi is not the mother of Bukola.

“I maintained my friendship with his father. His father was writing me letters. In one of the letters, he told me he was very sick. And at that time, Sola was in private medical practice at Offin in Lagos and I went there to rebuke him. I said he was a useless doctor if his father was suffering in a foreign country. 

“I said he should be his number one patient at his clinic. And he brought him back. It was in that hospital that the man died.”

 While responding to a question about whether he had ever run into any of them in Ilorin, the envoy said, “None at all. Even up till now. There was one Iya Alaro. But Iya Alaro was a daughter of Alhaji Muttahiru Saraki, married to an Ilorin person. That is the root of Sola Saraki coming to Ilorin. When he came to Ilorin, he stayed with Iya Alaro at Agbaji. But Iya Alaro’s relationship with Ilorin was that of a wife of an Ilorin man. I know Alhaji Saraki had a male child in his house in Abidjan. He was older than Sola. He did not have Western education. And I think he must have settled back in Lagos or Abeokuta.”

The Beginning of the End

After dogmatically moving the entire structure of the Kwara Peoples Democratic Party, PDP to All Progressives Congress, APC, Saraki acted contrary to the recommendation of the 22-man committee saddled with the responsibility of weighing options of leaving the party after series of disagreements, especially on the issue of seeking re-election by President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015. 

It was gathered that 18 out of the 22 members have advised Saraki not to leave the party in total compliance with the ideology and principle of the people of the Kwara State owing to their political antecedents but the acclaimed “Political Leader” remained adamant and spurned the recommendation.

However, as the 2015 gathers momentum, Kwara State is one of the states in the nation where contest in the forthcoming elections will be so keen due of the strength of the gladiators who have expressed interest to vie for one seat or the other most especially striving towards unseating the incumbent APC led government. This, they tend to achieve by bringing an end to the political dominance of Senator Bukola Saraki who stylishly retired his late father, Dr. Olusola Saraki, on whose back he rode to earn his political pedigree despite all efforts by the sage to ensure that his younger sister, Senator Gbemisola Saraki succeed him as the Kwara State Governor in 2011. 

As Bukola Saraki continued to earn himself more foes, he had also lost his most loyal friend and benefactor who served as his Security Adviser for eight years, Mallam Yinka Aluko, who stayed behind in the PDP alongside other friends he betrayed. Most prominent of the Kwara PDP today are Bukola Saraki’s siblings who are also major stakeholders in the project of “Freedom for Kwara”.  

Although, prior to this period, Kwara State used to be a PDP state until Senator Bukola Saraki romanced with the G7 PDP governors, which later reduced to G5 to cause disharmony in PDP, eventually it led to the formation of the All Progressives Congress, APC.

Meanwhile, members of the PDP have however vowed to retrieve their “stolen mandate” and put Bukola Saraki to shame the same way he did to his father who died shortly after the 2011 general election when his anointed candidate, (Gbemisola Saraki of the ACPN) lost gallantly to the sitting Governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed, who was anointed by Bukola Saraki. 

An Ilorin based public affairs analysts, Mr. Shola Muse, who spoke to Newsworld disclosed that with the twist in Kwara politics, old political allies are now pitching tent against their previous political soulmates and associates as those that remained in PDP are now squaring up against Bukola Saraki and his stooges who defected with him to APC.

It is no longer news that Kwara State is one of the states in Nigeria where contest in the forthcoming general election would be so keen owing to the strength of the gladiators who have expressed interest to vie for one seat or the other. 

The fiercest contest would be between the former Governor of Kwara State and Chairman Senate Committee, Dr. Bukola Saraki of the APC (although, he is still considering whether or not to contest) and his former Security Adviser, Mallam Yinka Aluko of the PDP who has since collected the nomination form of the party. 

Yinka Aluko popularly called “Original Home Boy” pointed out that the people of Kwara Central desired better representation than is being rendered by Dr. Bukola Saraki.

It was gathered that Mallam Aluko was the longest Security Adviser in the history of Kwara State and Nigeria at large having served two administrations of former Governor Bukola Saraki for eight years and Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed for two years consecutively.

To some, the aspirant, if emerged as the flag-bearer of the PDP, will pose serious threat to Saraki owing to his vast experience in various fields of human endeavour and most especially as his major election-winning strategist who brought him from Lagos to Ilorin in 2003 to contest for the gubernatorial seat. 

Although, Saraki governed Kwara State from 2003 to 2011 and succeeded in installing his erstwhile Commissioner for Finance and later Commissioner for Economic and Planning, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed as the current governor of the state.

Meanwhile, the ex-governor rode on the goodwill of his performance and the chief administrator of the state for eight years to earn himself the Kwara Central Senatorial ticket. A seat held by his sister, Senator Gbemisola Saraki until 2011 when she contested for the governorship seat on the platform of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria, ACPN.

Shortly after collecting the nomination form at the party secretariat along Asa Dam Road, Ilorin, Mallam Aluko promised to contribute his quota to the socio-economic development of the people of the Kwara Central senatorial district during the 2015 general elections. 

According to him, “I am prepared to serve the people of the Kwara Central senatorial district so as to add values to their well being. There is no doubt that, I possess all the necessary exposures that will endear the people of my senatorial district to vote for me if I am giving the mandate during the party’s primary.”

The PDP chieftain who described the PDP as a democratic party in Nigeria and Africa said that, the party has created a platform for all intending aspirants to seek any elective positions of the party.  The gesture has gingered many members of the party to come out to seek elective positions in the forthcoming elections in the country. I enjoin all other people who are still outside PDP to come into the party in order to contribute their quota towards the development of Kwara and Nigeria in particular.”

He however implored the people of the state to continue to support the PDP to assist the party to win the next year general elections in the state. 

Analysts opined that with the outing of Yinka Aluko for the Kwara Central Senate, the battle would test Saraki barely two years after the death of his father, Senator Olusola Saraki. While Aluko’s refusal to follow his ex-boss is giving those in APC, sleepless nights owing to his wide experience in winning elections. 

It will be recalled that Senator Gbemi Saraki told loyalists of the late strongman of Kwara politics that after the 2011 elections her father told his children and supporters that were in ACP, to return and stay in PDP. However, they were prevented from doing so by some former leaders of PDP in Kwara State, spearheaded by her brother, Bukola, who defected to the APC earlier in the year.

Senator Gbemi Saraki, who spoke at an enlarged meeting of politicians in the state organised by Gbemisola Ruqayyah Saraki, GRS Movement and the Kwara Conscience led by Alhaji Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, said in compliance with her father’s directives she and the other two children of Saraki are returning to the PDP. The two siblings that openly announced their return to PDP are Laolu Saraki and Tope Saraki. With this development, former Governor Bukola Saraki has become a lone ranger in the APC. 

Apart from the three Saraki children, core loyalists of the late Kwara politician also announced their mass defection to the PDP alongside members of the defunct All Nigerian Peoples Party, ANPP, Labour Party and ACPN on whose platform Gbemisola contested 2011 governorship in the state.

With these factors, it is generally believed by all and sundry that the end-road is near for the Sarakis in the nation’s political firmament and consequently their domination of Kwara politics for close to half of a century.

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