Kwara: Mr Saraki Out, Ms Saraki In?

When a few years ago the former Governor of Kwara State, Mohammed Lawal, died in a foreign hospital after a ‘protracted illness’, tongues started wagging as whether his death was of normal natural cause or caused by other factors chiefly human. From some quarters accusing fingers were pointed at the Saraki dominating political dynasty in Ilorin as possibly being behind his demise. The late Lawal was helped to power in Kwara State by the godfatherism of Olusola Saraki as others before him. Soon after, like what we have been witnessing lately (Nwobodo vs Nnamani, Nnamani vs Chime in Enugu; Orji Kalu vs Ohakim in Imo; Orji Kalu vs Theodore Orji in Abia etc) Lawal fell out with his powerful godfather who made sure his biological son Bukola governed Kwara like the lucky son of Igbinedion did gracelessly in Edo State.

In the city of Ilorin in particular and Kwara State in general, it is about the Sarakis; almost everything has to do with the Saraki political dynasty. Gov. Bukola Saraki, Senator Gbemi Saraki and now we are facing the prospects of a Gov. Gbemi Saraki in the next dispensation! Are we to believe, then, that only a Saraki is worthy enough to continue ‘the good work’ of another Saraki? One cannot but envy this oligarchy that assumes that only the family has the solution to every problem Kwaran, that is, only the members of the family has the intellect to rule Kwara. What happened to zoning in Kwara State? Is there not another senatorial district apart from the one where the Sarakis hail that deserves a shot at ruling Kwara?

The head of this Ilorin oligarchy, ex-Senator Olusola Saraki is an organized ruthless but generous politician who took his time to construct one of the well-organized intimidating political dynasties in Nigeria. He has got the money, the influence, the fame and the contacts to push things around no matter the odds. His ‘godfathership’ is one exercised with awe and fascination. He commands and controls his ‘troops’ effortlessly and like the late Lamidi Adedibu, the demon of Molete, he dispenses favours with ease bearing in mind that the downtrodden are hungry and poverty-stricken. So a carefully-woven image of a ‘friend of the poor’ is projected daily towards winning the minds and souls of the poor masses in and around Ilorin with the aim of conquering the conquerable and maintaining a dominance that seems unchallengable.

Dr Olusola Saraki has since ‘anointed’ his Senator-daughter Gbemisola for the 2011 gubernatorial race in the state. The strong-man of Kwara politics finally endorsed her after ‘much pressure’ from the people of the state. When we know how power-greedy ‘Oloye’ and his family are then it is not surprising that the old man was purportedly ‘dancing’ to the tune of the people’s wishes for a female governor. If she eventually wins she will become the first elected female Governor in Nigeria (not minding Dame Virgy Etiaba who replaced Gov. Peter Obi temporarily in Anambra State after the latter was illegally impeached out of office by scoundrels led by Mike Balonwu).

The present Governor of the State whose tenure runs till May 2011 was one of the four northern presidential aspirants ‘screened’ by the Adamu Ciroma-led ‘wise men’ who sought to choose a ‘consensus candidate’ from the north who will challenge the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan in the PDP primaries in the spirit of ‘zoning’ which they are defending and upholding against the popular will of majority of Nigerians — even in the north. Gov. Saraki took ‘third’ position behind the eventual winner, ex-Vice President Atiku Abubakar and ex-military dictator Ibrahim Babangida. They have all decided to abide by the decision of the Ciroma-led group collapsing their various campaign structures to form one solid one behind Atiku.

Well, ambition is never a crime and in a clime like ours where politics remains the greatest means of making money and achieving everything achievable under heaven Saraki who still leads the Governors’ Forum believed he had the intellect and the capacity to lead Nigeria. But while one was never against this drive for a higher office there are certain issues that begged (and still beg) for explanations. The first happens to be Bukola Saraki’s geography and paternal background. The majority of the people inhabiting Kwara State are known to be Yorubas. Even the name Saraki and Olusola or Bukola are yoruba names.

So one wonders the biological or demographic relationship with the north. If the Sarakis are claiming to be northerners for political expediency then it is understandable but to claim to be more northern than southern Nigerian simply boggles the mind and exposes certain character trait in the Nigerian politician. But the bitter truth remains self-evident that the ‘real’ northerners know who the real northerners are. When a yoruba man claims to be part of the north and consequently a northerner I think it bothers, in the main, on inferiority complex! The core north, the children of Dan Fodio are proud of their Arewa heritage and they know their strenght and weaknesses. I do not think they need a Saraki addition to their numbers.

Accusing the Saraki family of “enslaving” Kwarans The PDP presidential aspirant, Mrs Sarah Jubril recently slammed the Saraki senior insisting that he was only using his children to swindle the political liberty of Kwarans. Claiming that the roots of the Sarakis solicited investigation she alleged thus: “check the roots of Sarakis. I beg you, did he not come out one time to say he is allegedly from Mali? Please check the magazine where it was published because I have it. We are not sure of the indigeneship of Dr Saraki, so in the name of Allah that he worships, let him be fair to Kwarans. Has he not enjoyed enough support and political dividends from Kwarans? Kwara must not continue to be imprisoned politically; Nigeria is 50 years now, it is jubilee also for Kwarans; they should stop enslaving Kwarans”. Strong words there!

Do we hold to be true from the foregoing, therefore, that the Sarakis have some explanations to give about their ancestral provenance? Are ‘foreigners’ ruling Kwarans and dominating the political space to the exclusion of the ‘sons and daughters of the soil’? There is indeed need for some investigation to be carried out concerning this ‘bomb’ dropped by Mrs Jubril.

The bitter truth remains that even though Bukola Saraki still has age on his side and some modicum of experience as a two-term Governor of a State there are many unresolved issues involving him and his father. And the major one is about the defunct Societé Generale Bank. Bukola was one of the directors of the collapsed bank and billions of savings of Nigerians went up in smoke. One of those whose fortunes running into millions of dollars attracted the Federal Government’s attention was the retired great international soccer star Austin Okocha.

When the bank went under it was reported that Okocha raised alarm about his wealth deposited therein. One does not know how the matter was settled as the government was reported to have promised the legenday footballer that his funds would be given back to him. Leaving us with the question: what about the others? What happened to the deposits of other Nigerians in the collapsed bank? Were they refunded or politics was introduced into the whole thing like the Savannah Bank saga?

Bukola Saraki should explain to us what he knows about the SGB and how or why it went under? Even though we are Nigerians (with impunity and fraud manifestly in our system) and living in Nigeria (where anything goes) it is about time we broke the cycle of impunity in the system, something that allows criminals to be in command and the innocent ones to be in prison. Gov. Saraki may have performed above average in his home state of Kwara but it is not enough to recommend him for the presidency or catapult him to power in Aso Rock. The French would say: “c’est trop facile ca!”. That is an easy cheap one!

When the Zimbabwean civilian dictator ‘President’ Rober

t Mugabe threw out the white farmers in his country (in a controversial land re-distribution scheme) some of them were invited over to Kwara State by the Governor Bukola Saraki. Today according to sources they are not doing badly as they were given hectares of arable lands to cultivate and prosper. But controversy has trailed the invitation of the ejected white Zimbabwean farmers. Though they have turned acres of arable land into productive agricultural fields employing some local folks the ‘deal’ of their ‘migration’, that is, the terms of their coming, remain unclear.

As the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum comprising the 36 elected state Governors ABS felt powerful enough and had wanted to go for the higher ‘thing’, the Presidency. I believe he must have obtained some solid assurances of his peers and colleagues in the forum before deciding to join the presidential fray dominated by old retired Generals, an incumbent President, a former EFCC czar and a highly-articulate former Vice President. But in the end the Adamu Ciroma-led Northern Political Leaders Forum had killed that inordinate ambition choosing Abubakar Atiku instead to be the ‘consensus northern’ PDP candidate.

Though one concedes that it not unconstitutional for a brother to hand over an executive function to a sister like a father could do to a son it is morally wrong. It is politically and democratically indecent for a Saraki to hand over the reins of gubernatorial power to another Saraki — a ‘miss’ in the Senate! Under normal circumstances the people in Kwara should not allow that to happen or stand because if it does then one could conclude that there is no man with balls in Kwara to put a stop to the elaborate construction and consolidation of the Saraki political dynasty in Kwara State.

When that eventually happens on May 29 2011, that is, a Mr Saraki out and Ms Saraki in, then the name of the state, Kwara, must be renamed to suit the emerging reality in the state. That is, the in-coming President (be he Jonathan, Buhari or Atiku) should decree Kwara State out of existence and bring in ‘Saraki State’ in its stead. Like that we will all know that the state belongs to the Sarakis and not Kwarans. ‘Abi’, dear reader, ‘no be so’?

And when the ‘Saraki state’ is hopefully created thousands of the jesters and those whose souls have been taken by the almighty ‘Oloye’ should troop en masse to his palatial residence in Abuja or Ilorin exclaiming: Up ‘Oloye’!, Up ‘Oloye’!! Thy kingdom come ‘Oloye’!!! May you live long, oh ‘Oloye’, like the biblical Metusellah!!!! Oh ‘Oloye’, you are our god!!!!!

Written by
SOC Okenwa
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