By Saadu Muhammad
At a time when states governments across the country are busy addressing issue of economic crisis, challenge of protecting lives and properties of the citizenry, building more infrastructure to accommodate growing population, galvanizing the people for development purposes and fulfillment of electioneering promises, it seems the pre-occupation of some people in official quarters in my state, Kwara, is quite different.
From an article written and posted by one Dr. Hassan Babamale, obviously an agent and spin doctor for Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, the important issue now to the Kwara State Governor and his administration is who should be allowed to attend the second Durbar Festival to be hosted in Ilorin after the Eid-el-Kabir festival.
The spin doctor in one write-up posted on several WhatsApp platforms titled “Ilorin Durbar and Saraki’s hunger for unmerited recognition”, launched an unwarranted attack on the THISDAY Newspaper which according to him published a news item on how Governor Abdulrazaq has been ‘working hard’ to prevent former Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki from being invited to this year’s event. While I believe that the management and Board of Editors of THISDAY are capable of defending themselves against the ruthless attack from this agent of the Kwara State Government, it should be noted that one does not believe Mr. Abdulrazaq believes in his spin doctors’ unwarranted attack on the newspaper. This is because it is a market place secret that the Governor has been struggling to court and befriend the newspaper’s management. And in any case, if the way THISDAY was described in that write up is right, then, it won’t be taken serious by many influential political and business elites in the country. And of course, its small story on the Ilorin Durbar would not have created so much concern and pain for Babamale like he made it appear in his write up.
For me, if it suits the Governor’s ego, he should continue to insist that Saraki should not be invited at all to the Ilorin Durbar, not to talk of him attending as a Guest of Honour. However, it will be turning logic on its head for a spin doctor or his sponsors to claim that it is Saraki that wants to attend the Durbar at all costs. What will Saraki gain by insisting on attending an event which he knows Mr. Abdulrazaq and his courtiers will most likely mismanage?
Last year, Saraki was at the maiden edition of the Durbar as Wazirin Ilorin and President of the Senate. He was also the Guest of Honour at the Ojude Oba Festival in Ijebu Ode the following day. So, why would this year’s Durbar be a must for him? He is not an oju o rolari, that is, the one who feels intoxicated by little issues. Everybody knows that the Wazirin Geri is a man of substance, not moved by little issues and not given to pettiness. He has seen it all.
From reliable information at my disposal, Dr. Saraki who is presently on a deserved holiday abroad has not made any move, overtly and covertly, that suggest he is bent on attending the Durbar. And this is in spite of the fact that by right, as a prominent Ilorin indigene, a leading member of the Emirate Council, a former Governor of Kwara State and as the indigene who has occupied the highest position ever attained by an Ilorin person in Nigeria, he is entitled to attend the event. If the government of the day and its friends believe they can only be more comfortable with his absence, they can continue to revel in their pettiness.
The faceless spin doctor called Babamale talked about personalizing an event. In his bid to justify this claim, one saw a lot of absurd and illogical arguments being put forward. Yet, this fellow was bold enough to put the prefix ‘Dr’ before his name. What Doctor would claim that a Durbar superintended by the Emir of Ilorin, the Emirate Council and the Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union (IEDPU) was personalized? He even equated a Durbar to a political party meeting when he asked the question: “Last year when Saraki was the all-in-all… how many opposition figures or traditional title holders enjoyed the limelight he now craves for at the Durbar?”. He must be a joker that he is now reducing an event for the entire indigenes of an ancient town like the Eid-el-Kabir Durbar to what only members of just one political party should attend.
If we as Ilorin indigenes want this Durbar to grow like the ones being held in other major towns and cities across Nigeria, we must refrain from pettiness, little mindedness, parochialism and provincialism as exhibited and preached by this spin doctor Babamale and his sponsors. It would be interesting if the spin doctors of Governor Abdulrazaq can let the public know what his relationship with the Ilorin Emirate was and which of its activities he associated with or contribute to before he became Governor.
I saw some of the unpopular narratives spin doctor Babamale tried to project about the Kwara State that Saraki governed and the eighth Senate that he led. It should be made known that thousands of this faceless characters and sponsors cannot rewrite history. Like lawyers say: res ipsa loquitor. The facts are there to show that Saraki did well as Governor of Kwara State and as Senate President. That is why till today, almost three months after the Senate he led adjourned sine die, President Muhammadu Buhari is still assenting to pending reform and progressive bills passed by the Saraki-led National Assembly. His records as Senate President showed him as a man who elevated the institution and made it to record achievements that those coming behind him will chase after.
Let me mention just a few points to show that as Governor of Kwara State, Saraki was a success. The Metropolitan Square where Governor Abdulrazaq held the June 12 inaugural Democracy Day was not there before Saraki became Governor. The Health Insurance Schemes which Saraki’s administration initiated brought succour to the less privileged in the state. The Kwara State University (KWASU) that his administration created has become a landmark achievement in the state now. As Governor, his administration eradicated polio in Kwara State. He also led the Nigerian Governors’ Forum in partnership with the Federal Government and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to ensure the nation became polio free. If more than eight years after he left office, Kwara State has now started witnessing the outbreak of polio, the blame should definitely not be laid at his doorstep.
When the time comes, I will give examples of a thousand projects, policies and programmes initiated by the Saraki administration between 2003 and 2011. And there is nothing these present court jesters can do to erase this in the memory of the people, despite their simpleton efforts to de-market the man.
Saraki has been gracious enough to leave Abdulrazaq alone to work and fulfill his exaggerated promises to the people. The new Governor should seize the moment to concentrate on the job at hand. Governance is not a tea party. He needs to start thinking of what legacy to leave behind, not getting bogged down by irrelevances and frivolities. He should, in fact, chide his overzealous aides who want to push him to thread the path of infamy. The issue of who attends or does not attend a Durbar is too irrelevant and mundane for a serious-minded Governor to get embroiled in.
Finally, let me remind the incumbent Governor of one African proverb: The man who wants to bury the naked body of his older brother should take his younger brother along because he is just giving a description of the type of burial he too should be given.
NB: This article was written by the writer before the Durbar event, which held in Ilorin, last Monday. Muhammad writes and lives in Ilorin