By Mumini AbdulKareem, Ahmed Ajikobi, Mike Adeyemi and Jimoh Sulyman
Immediate past Senate President, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki on Saturday in Ilorin received a rousing reception from friends, supporters and other well-wishers who besieged the Ilorin International Airport to welcome him back to the state.
This is coming just as party supporters and residents bitterly complained about the hardship the present administration is foisting on the citizens but extolled the leadership style of the former Senate President adding that “they want him back”.
Shouts of “O su wa” (we are tired of the hardship) that the All Progressives Progress (APC) administration has brought to the state. “Idera de, (comfort has returned), we want you back to continue to provide a leadership of focus and welfarism”, rented the air by the mammoth crowd who received him at the airport”.
Saturday’s homecoming was Saraki’s first visit to Ilorin since he left office as Senate President in June, 2019 and was embarked upon to commemorate the 8th year remembrance prayer for his late father, Dr. Olusola Saraki.
As early as 7am, members of the Kwara State chapter of the People Democratic Party, (PDP), supporters, Saraki’s enthusiasts and other residents formed a mammoth crowd at the airport amidst singing and dancing with different party paraphernalia and logo waiting for his arrival.
The carnival-like celebration which lasted for several hours also attracted top party leaders from across the three senatorial districts of the state.
Saraki whose white coloured aircraft with registration number 5N PAZ touched the airport tarmac around 9:15 arrived with former PDP national chairman, Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje and other domestic staff.
He had a very hectic time passing through the crowd waiting to receive him at the entrance of the arrival lounge with shouts of “Oloye”, “Oloye”.
His exit was further delayed several minutes inside the airport premises as the tumultuous crowd massed around his convoy.
It took the convoy of the former Senate President about 3hrs to get to the popular Geri Alimi Diamond Split Underpass from the airport as he kept on acknowledging cheers of the residents from the rooftop of his vehicle who lined up on both sides of the road and the median to catch a closer view of him.
Some of the supporters and residents climbed the underpass and crowded Sawmill road and other adjoining communities to catch a glimpse of Saraki whose motorcade had a herculean task moving as he was sandwiched by several tricycles, commercial motorcycle riders and artisans amidst blaring of car horns.
Many of the party leaders and supporters who spoke with National Pilot at the airport described Saraki’s visit as a triumphant entry to the state which underscored the love the people have for him and his relevance especially as another election is just around the corner.
People in their thousands accompanied him from the Ilorin International Airport to his Iloffa, GRA family house, hailing and singing his praise.
The former governor was also honoured at the Emir’s palace where hordes of people gathered to welcome him.
The shout of ‘Sai Saraki’ among other words of praises rented the air has he made a grand entry into the palace at about 4:15pm.
Saraki’ met with the elated Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu Gambari behind closed doors for about 25 minutes while the crowd waited patiently for him.
After the meeting with the monarch, Saraki graced the programme organised by the Ilorin Emirate Youth Development held at the Emir’s palace before he left the town and headed to his ancestral home in Agbaji quarters where he was received by another mammoth crowd who sang his praises.
The former Senate President has since left Ilorin on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the Iloffa, GRA residence, Ilorin became a Mecca of sort on Saturday as people from all works of life converged to hold special prayer for late kingpin of Kwara Politics, Abubakar Olusola Saraki.
The 8th year memorial prayer for the late elder statesman was organised by associates and family of the deceased second republic Senate leader.
As early as 7am people who were gaily dressed in their multitude besieged the residence of the late political icon to grace the special occasion.
In attendance, were the Ilorin Emirate traditional Chiefs led by Balogun Gambari, Balogun Ajikobi, Magaji Aare and Baba Isale of Ilorin, the Magajis and Alanguas of the Ilorin Emirate who adorned their colourful traditional attires including the Magaji Nda of Ilorin, Alhaji Solihu Woru Muhammed, Magaji Ile Iya Oba of Ilorin, Alhaji Adebayo Akanbi Jimoh among others.
The immediate past Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki was giving a rousing welcomed by a huge crowd of supporters as he arrived venue of the event.
The Chief Imam of Ilorin, Sheikh Mohammed Bashir Solihu led the prayer session and was supported by the Grand Mukadam of Ilorin, Sheikh Sulaiman Dan-Borno, Sheikh Saanu Sheu and Imam AbdulRazaq Aduagba.
The clerics, in their separate sermons, admonished parents to bequeath love, good moral and religious teachings to their children for them to benefit remembrance prayers from them.
Sheikh Bashir, said that late Saraki touched lives in all parts of the state and beyond through his philanthropic gestures, adding that the late politician lived an exemplary life being emulated by his children.
The clerics said that the Fidau prayer should be part of obligations of every responsible children to late parents, adding that it attracts reward from God because it is what God loves and commanded.
Chief Mukadam of Ilorin, Sheikh Suleiman Dan-Borno, particularly, expressed gladness over the presence of both Senator Bukola saraki and Gbemisola Saraki, at the event.
“We hold it that with your togetherness, love and unity, people will not see the secret of Ilorin. Late Olusola Saraki planted goodness, peace, prosperity, in all parts of the state. And people benefitted therefrom. We are assured that Saraki is happy in his grave with what is happening among the children and the people he left behind”, he said.
Similarly, Imam AbdulRazaq Aduagba said that the people of Kwara are happy with the children of the late political icon, adding that, “Saraki is a symbol of love.”
The cleric urged people to discourage bad publicity against Dr Bukola Saraki, saying that Allah has His ways of controlling affairs of life.
“We can all see the difference in what happened before and what’s happening now in the political situation of Kwara. Our people, should therefore, change their ways to love one another. Let’s forgive ourselves and accept God’s ways,” he advised.
Dignitaries present at the event included the Minister of State for Transportation, Gbemisola Saraki, Senator Rafiu Ibrahim, the state chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Engr. Kola Shittu, former Acting national chairman of the PDP, Alh Abubakar Kawu Baraje and former speaker of the state House of Assembly, Dr Ali Ahmad.
Others include, the Taliba of Ibira land Mallam Hamsa Usman, the former special adviser on political, Alhaji Bibire Ajape among others.
Meanwhile, the former Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki has finally reconciled with his immediate younger sister and Minster of State for Power, Gbemisola.
The siblings were the star of the 8th Fidau prayer held for late Oloye as they embraced and openly engaged close in discussion to the applause of those that attends the prayer.
Video clips and pictures of the reconciliation went viral on many social media platforms in the state last week where Sheikh Suleiman Faruk Onikijipa (Al-Miskeen) was seen reconciling them at the grave of grave of late Baba Saraki shortly after the prayer.
Kwarans Speaks on visit, Baba’s legacies
Yusuf Kayode Maja – Crowd testimony Kwarans still love Saraki: You can see joy on the faces of everybody including the men, women and youth and we are happy to hear that our leader, Dr Bukola Saraki will be coming to Kwara. His visit is very significant and shows that we have hope come 2023 that we will take our position back Insha Allah. We are going back to the drawing board come back bigger and better. We are no more in government but despite that, you can see the mammoth crowd at the airport. This is testament to the love we have for Saraki despite all odds.
Hon Matthew Okedare – Residents, disappointed APC members happy to receive Saraki: We thank God on Saraki’s return to Kwara today because it is long overdue. People have been feeling hungry and tasty because of the bad polices of this government. The whole Kwara including the disappointed APC are here and happy to welcome him. Also, we pray that after the Fidau that is also taking place today, there will be more progress for the Saraki’s, PDP and Kwaran, our supporters and Kwarans in general. The present regime is a write off in Kwara State. People are tired of the APC, no job, no appointment and nothing is working in the state.
Hon Jimoh Raheem Agboola – Our joy knows no bound: Our joy knows no bound as the golden son of Kwara is coming to the state. By the Grace of God, 2023 is sure. This period is great and positive coincidence as we are praying for late Baba Saraki, the Emir’s 25th anniversary on the throne and then Saraki’s visit. These incidents are very important to Kwara.
Alhaji Jimoh Balogun, former Kwara South Senatorial chairman – All lies about Saraki have crumbled: Today’s rousing welcome has shown the public the kind of person Bukola Saraki is. During the last election after we lost, he said we should not go to court because they are not prepared for governance. The opposition fabricated lots of bogus lies to make people reject the love they have for Saraki. They claimed he owns Shoprite, Shonga farms and even said he collects two billion naira from the state monthly allocation. Are we not seeing the reality now? The town is agog about this visit and we are on course. Also, the late Baba Saraki is a person we can’t forget in Nigeria. He was a lover of everybody.
Ambassador Yisa Gana – We’re happy he’s back: Our gathering is a great honour to someone who has contributed immensely to the development of the state and Nigeria in general who has nurtured so many people politically.
As a Kwaran, we love him for what he has done for the state and the country and we know that given the opportunity, he will do lot more for the country. We are all happy that he is back to the country and the state. People only need to hear of his coming and you can see the reception, nobody prompted them to come. Saraki is a peaceful man and someone we should all emulate who has earned his respect.
Taju Alabi, Ex SA Security – Kwarans can now compare: This event signifies the people’s verdict. In 2019, there was an election in this state and people revolted then thinking that the previous administration did not meet up to their expectations. Then a new government came in. But with the situation on ground, the same people are now yearning for Saraki to come back because there is now comparism and they have seen the difference as we now have a government that neither listens to the people or care about their welfare, that is self centred and people are yearning for change desperately.
Hon AbdulKareem AbdulGaniy, Ex Majority Leader – We’re committed to his leadership: We are happy to welcome and receive him and to also let him know that we are very much with him no matter what. The legend, late Baba Saraki is a man of prayer who has done so much for Kwara and Kwarans.
Usman Hamza, Talba of Ibira – Baba was a phenomenon: He was a phenomenon. Other politicians are striving to be like him. He is a man of the people and a liberator.
Bibire Ajape, former SA Political – Saraki has not equal: Baba has no equals in Kwara and has brought development to the state. He is my father. I am his first son in politics.
Hajia Sarat Adebayo – We’re tired of present administration: Kwaran have never had it so bad until the coming of this APC government and that is what informed the coinage of O Su Wa which implies that Kwarans are tired of the present administration which promised heaven on earth but nothing has materialised.
Saka Isau (SAN) – He lived for the people: Baba Saraki is a man that lived for the people. The significant of this prayer can’t be put aside. The more you are close to him, the more you love him. We have not seen his type in Nigeria. He liberated many people from poverty.
Sheu Oniguguru, broadcaster – He is philanthropist to a fault: He loved Ilorin too much and was philanthropist to a fault. What we sow we shall reap. The late Saraki is reaping it today in his children.
Jimoh Adesina, former Senatorial chairman – He saved Kwara from bondage: He has liberated us in politics and lived for the downtrodden. Baba delivered Kwara from bondage. May Allah grant him Aljana Firdaous.
Christopher Ayeni, former Deputy Chief of Staff – Saraki is an epitome of love: Baba Saraki is an epitome of love and today’s prayer is unique with the attendance of Gbemi and the former Senate President. We all love him in Kwara because he believed all humans are equal. I pray he will enjoy the benefit of Aljana Firdaous.
Segilola AbdulKadir, former lawmaker – Baba is an epitome of value: He has left behind a good legacy and bequeathed good value to coming generations. Even the opposition knew he is the best. He has put Kwara name in the global map.
Alhaji Saliu Woru Mohammed – Baba was a sage, a rare gem: Nobody can occupy his space. He is a lover of the poor who reformed Kwara politics. We can’t forget him.
Yusuf Saliu, Magaji Ile-Apa – He has left a footprint: We have not seen anybody like him. He has left an indelible footprint in Kwara politics. You cannot describe him well enough. He stood for the less privileged.