Opinion: End game for Bukola Saraki's Kwara hegemony. By Is'haq Modibbo Kawu

Date: 2014-03-06

This week, President Goodluck Jonathan led a delegation of PDP bigwigs to attend what was termed a "Unity/Freedom Rally", in Ilorin, Kwara State. Senate President, David Mark, must have spoken the minds of other members of the delegation when he confessed apprehension that they might have just a few people to receive the delegation.

They were shocked! Kwarans from all walks of life turned out in thousands to receive the team. And believe me when I say that it was NOT a rented crowd! People trekked from far and near.

All the dirty tricks in the books had been employed by Bukola Saraki and his sidekicks in the Kwara State administration to hamper people's turnout: civil servants were ordered to stay in offices for 'screening'; APC members were directed to remain in their wards to await distribution of money; a number of Tokunbo taxicabs were scheduled for distribution to road transport workers inside Government House and timed to coincide with the Freedom Rally. But people voted with their conscience, consciousness and feet, and chose to attend the "Unity/Freedom Rally"!

It was unprecedented. What is unfolding in Kwara State, is a seismic political shift of potentially sweeping dimensions. After eight years of arrogant, insensitive and anti-people governorship and another three years of the most elaborate satrapy in recent Nigerian political history,BukolaSaraki made a transition from Governor to Governor-General. But Kwarans have had ENOUGH of deceit, governance as elaborate fraud and the impoverishment that has sapped the people of all dignity. The end game has arrived in Kwara State for BukolaSaraki's political regime of hegemonic control of power and the financial resources of our state. This week's "Unity/Freedom Rally" is an indicator of the dominant mindset in Kwara today. The people are saying emphatically: "ENOUGH IS ENOUGH"!

The lead to the rally had seen a major gathering of thousands of PDP supporters at the Lower Niger Basin Authority grounds, a week ago. That was after Gbemi Saraki publicly declared for the PDP a few weeks ago, just as Muhammed Dele Belgore left the APC for the PDP. Bilkisu Gambari, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, and the late Governor Lawal's son, Abdulhakeem, also declared for the PDP, joining other notable Kwarans who stayed in the party, when BukolaSaraki led his government machinery and supporters away into the APC.

That was Bukola Saraki'sfirst STRATEGIC mistake! He had NEVER won an election without the formidable apparatus of federal power. Those in the opposition noted his faux pas and seized the opportunity. PDP became a natural choice in Kwara State. It is a platform to demystify the local tin god,Bukola Saraki, whose domineering and suffocating hegemony has become loathed by the MAJORITY of impoverished Kwarans.

In 2011, he had actually lost the Senate election to Dr. Ibrahim Oloriegbe, within the Ilorin metropolis, until cooked up figures were added from the rural areas of the Asa local government of the Ilorin Emirate. So unpopular has the chap become in the community.

The roots of the crisis thatBukolaSaraki faces must also be located in his governance mode. Most projects in the state became exemplars of voodoo governance. These include Zimbabwe farm, Shoprite, Aviation College and Diagnostic Centre that are his 'flagship' projects. Huge loans/bonds were sourced to build each one of them, but in a most dubious twist of logic, Kwarans discover that these projects DON'T belong to them, but a faceless "private sector".

Who owns Bukola Saraki's"private sector"? The people in whose name the loans were taken don't know! Another example. The Alimi Guest Houses located behind Ilorin Government House were renovated at N1billion but were then "monetized" for Bukola Saraki at an alleged sum of N100 million. At the same time, as part of the unconscionable pension package he awarded to himself through the supine House of Assembly, he has built a house that occupies almost half of a street inside the Ilorin GRA.

In the 11 years he has been Governor and Governor-General, major contracts are awarded to non-indigenous contractors, and whenever Kwarans are appointed ministers, either of three non-indigenes: Tunde Morakinyo, Kola Alagbada and Koye Shogbola (chaps from his Lagos haunt),are attached to them as PAs (He did that for Halima Tayo Alao, Bio Ibrahim and Abubakar Baraje as PDP chairman), to monitor their activities, but especially to "scope" all contracts in their ministries!

The dominant motif of existence in Bukola Saraki's satrapy, Kwara State, is the humiliating poverty of the majority, where there is hardly any trickle down to the people and the obscene wealth of the man himself and the few individuals around him, that he continuously recycled as commissioners, chairmen of statutory boards, SAs, SSAs, Special Advisers, members of the National Assembly. It has led to a unique form of political in-breeding in Kwara state, and like all forms of in-breeding, has become a danger to the health of the species. Bukola Saraki's satrapy is unsustainable and has become a serious and present danger to the healthy community, political, economic and social existence of Kwara State.

In Ilorin (and Kwara State) today, there is a spike in the levels of consciousness and a war of political posters has become indicative of the political heat being generated in the lead to 2015. Long after his tenure as Governor but as part of his assertion of control as Governor-General, Bukola Saraki's posters are permanently displayed in an in-your-face and you-can't-do-anything about it manner. Not anymore!

From the Omoda roundabout, to the Ubandawaki, Adeta roundabouts, through to the Unity Road Roundabout and Post Office areas of the city, he is being matched poster-for-poster and there are open expressions of dissent all over the state. This is not localised to Ilorin. Two weeks ago,Muhammed Sha'aba Lafiagi, a gung-ho Bukola Saraki sidekick, was allegedly stoned in his hometown, Lafiagi, in the Kwara North senatorial district.

This is the reality of today's Kwara State. The people are FED UP with a regime designed to ensure Bukola Saraki's perpetual prosperity and the tiny clique around him. Let me illustrate with what might very well be apocryphal, but is well-quoted in Ilorin. Kayode Yusuf (Maja), one of his hirelings, once addressedBukolaSaraki: "Oga, we are very happy for you. We have served your father; we are now serving you; and we look forward to also serving your son"!

Those are thoughts very much befitting of a slave, not a decent citizen. This is the sickening type of groveling servitude that Bukola Saraki relishes and sits atop in Kwara State. That is what the majority of the people have consciously rejected. That explains why they turned out in thousands for the "Unity/Freedom Rally" on Monday. The endgame has arrived for Bukola Saraki's hegemony in Kwara State!

After the Boko Haram killings at fgc, Bunu Yadi

The tragic killing of over 59 students by the Boko Haram insurgents, at the FGC, BunuYadi, Yobe State, was the latest in the increasing number of attacks on educational infrastructure in the North-Eastern states. By April 2012, 14 schools had been burnt down in Maiduguri, forcing over 7,000 children from school in an already educationally disadvantaged area.

The Nigeria Education Data survey for 2010 already indicated that schools enrolment in Borno dropped by 28% as a result of insurgent attacks. Security forces have been unable to prevent these attacks, underlining the danger of total collapse of already fragile educational projects in areas locked into the insurgency.

The short and long term consequences of these, underline the need to think outside the box to find ways to halt the insurgency.

But there is an international dimension to the increasing levels of violence against schools and education in general. A recent survey of conflicts in 70 countries, between 2009 and 2013, by the US-based Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack, GCPEA, revealed widespread attacks against schools around the world.

In the period of survey, 9, 600 schools were documented as damaged or destroyed by attacks, burning, looting and occupation by armed groups. Pakistan was worst hit, with 800 schools deliberately targeted.

Director of GCPEA, DiyaNijhowne, said "many individuals are bombed, burned, shot, threatened or abducted for attending classes or doing their job at school or university", adding further that "many schools and universities are deliberately attacked because they are soft, easy targets, or to undermine government control- a tactic of war". The summary fits tactics that Boko Haram has continued to employ in its attacks in Borno and Yobe states.

What is most worrisome is the attitude of the Nigerian federal government. Despite the tragic killings of FGC students, President Goodluck Jonathan still hasn't personally visit either the school in Yobe or Borno, where killings have become daily, or even both. Leading members of the Nigerian ruling elite were too busy last week, in Abuja, celebrating 100 years of Amalgamation, in a Nigerian parody of the classic, of the Emperor fiddling as Rome burnt.

Jonathan and his handlers must be weaned from the ridiculous narrative that Boko Harm is a Northern conspiracy against his presidency. No sane people will choose to kill their own children; destroy their infrastructure and tear apart their society, just to make life difficult for any president.

It makes absolutely no sense! Jonathan must act as president of the whole country and show extra urgency to contain the insurgency. He needs to get closer to the action and borrow a leaf from his counterparts in other parts of the world. It is poignant that one of the world leaders that addressed the security conference organized last week in Abuja was French President, Francoise Hollande.

Well, he left Abuja for Bangui, Central African Republic, CAR, to visit with the French forces helping with the difficult situation in that country. It was his second visit since December 2013. He left for Bangui from Mandela's funeral ceremony, following the killing of two French soldiers in the CAR. The most positive point this week related to the killing of the FGC students was the demonstration in Lagos, by some Alumni of Federal Colleges.

These were concerned Nigerians from all backgrounds who are not likely to have children or wards in far-flung Yobe state. But they understand that we have a common humanity; and those killed were Nigerian children. They were living John Donne's admonition: "every man's death diminishes me, for I am involved in mankind; never ask for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee".

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