Opinion - Gbemi Saraki: A Rebel With a Cause? By Badmus Okolo

Date: 2013-12-02

By Badmus Okolo

When the airwaves and the dailies were all awashed with the insider reports of how Sen. Gbemisola Saraki and her two other siblings, Laolu and Tope Saraki, 'shunned' the first anniversary memorial prayer for their late father and strongman of Ilorin, Dr. Olusola Saraki, I really didn't count it as anything spectacular. 'So what?' was my first response to the news. And honestly, I don't give a fatting hoot about who attended what! But wait a minute, there is yet a damning news that hit the airwaves this week about how the two illustrious heirs of Saraki 'shunned' each other at the final internment ceremony of their father's closest pal and confidant, late Prof Albert Ogunshola in Ilorin. The news reports have it that the duo refused to exchange pleasantries with each other throughout the period of the church service, which held at the 1st Baptist Church in Ilorin. The scene was reportedly so charged that even the supporters of the two Sarakis were also almost gunning for each other's jugulars. Having confirmed the veracity of the story from a couple of informed sources, I there and then, came to the bitter conclusion that all is indeed not well with the once boisterous family.

But in all honesty, this naked dance in the village square doesn't really come to me as a surprise; I saw it all coming! The handwriting was all on the wall for even the blind to see! To any discerning mind, the war of attrition between the duo of Gbemi and Bukola Saraki didn't just spring up; it started long ago. Not during the gubernatorial contest, but right from the day of the first inauguration of Dr. Bukola Saraki as the executive Governor of Kwara State. Recall that all along, Gbemisola had been holding forth as a federal rep while Bukola was still managing to find his foot. That fateful day, for any pundit who cared to watch and observe, gave a rare insight into the personality war between the duo. For reasons then unknown (but now playing out) the governor-elect wouldn't look his siblings right in the eyes-their eyes never for a moment met! Except for the occasional eye contacts with Mrs. Florence Saraki and perhaps Laolu, Bukola Saraki deliberately shunned his younger ones. Neither smiles nor banters, neither gestures nor even gesticulations connected them. It was but an atmosphere fouled by filial attritions. There and then I came to the bitter conclusion that should the elder Saraki drop dead at that material time, then it would most certainly be farewell oh ye dynasty. How prophetic that prediction is!

But come to think of it, why should any of the Saraki siblings be aggrieved at all? Where were they when our patrimony was being recklessly frittered away by their brother? Where were they when Bukola foisted (and still do by proxy) his elitist and grandiose projects that hardly have any bearing on the poor people of the state? Did they stand for us, the masses? Aren't the poor Kwara masses, who have had to tolerate Bukola Saraki for years, that should be justifiably angry?

No matter how wounded Gbemisola is, she cannot be as wounded, pained and brutalized as the ordinary Kwarans. If Saraki and his crumb catchers blackmailed and maligned her, did he also suffocate her? If Bukola Saraki shameless hijack her senatorial ticket, did he also hijack her source of livelihood as he did to hundred of worker illegally retrenched under his watch? If Bukola Saraki humiliated her and her father, did he also brutalize her and her father just as he did to countless helpless women and children who were stampeded to death at Ile loke?

This is why the right individuals that should be aggrieved now is NOT Gbemi but Kwarans on the streets. As much as Gbemi reserves the right to be so aggrieved for the countless atrocities done against her by her own blood, the apparent injustice meted against the larger Kwara society is incomparable to hers. As much as she has a right o fight back and show her true worth without her father, she should allow the masses some chance to fire the first salvo so that her grief will not be mistaken as a case of dog eating dog!


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