By Oluseyi Da Silva
His Excellency the outgoing Senate President of the 8th Senate of Nigeria, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki is no doubt the most popular Nigerian politician in recent times; most mentioned in the news daily and to some, the most controversial. A young man who inherited and rode on the threshold of his father’s pedigree and political dynasty in Kwara and served as the first two – term Governor of Kwara State. Saraki also successfully installed a successor and ensured that he too served for two terms. Painfully, Saraki inherited his father’s age long enemies along with wealth and the dynasty; a shoe too big for his legs but providence and his maker have helped him to manage.
Throughout his eight years as governor of Kwara State, I neither saw anything good about his administration nor did I write in his favour. I was hell-bent on writing negative reports about him and his administration. The death of Rear Admiral Mohammed Lawal, former governor of Kwara State and the several misconceptions that I had about the situation made me hate anything and everything about the Saraki family, though I had soft spot for Rukayat Gbemisola Saraki. I wrote so much against him such that his Chief Press Secretary fought me and declared me persona non-grata in the government house, yet I gave no damn. However, as an open mind, ever willing to learn, I later discovered that the food from inside a black pot that stains the hand does not stain the stomach, I began to see reasons not to hate Bukola Saraki.
My first attraction to him was the fact that I so much cherish Toyin Ojora – Saraki and I said to myself, hating the husband and loving the wife is hypocritical so for her sake, I stopped attacking Bukola Saraki. Afterward, I began to notice some of his special attributes and uncommon traits, so I began to listen when he speaks and was drawn closer to him. I noticed his level of intelligence, his openness, which are not like what other politicians possess. In my opinion, I scored Bukola Saraki zero in politics and his father 100%. A glance at Bukola Saraki’s face will tell you whether he likes you or not, he is not a diplomatic personality. However, a dogged fighter, stubborn as was often said about him, but also very reasonable, considerate and with listening ears. I heard in several quarters that he is very arrogant, some said he doesn’t mix and I understand it that an eagle will naturally be seen to be arrogant because he soars higher than other birds and his level of intelligence surpasses that of his peers so accusing him of being arrogant is normal but based on the level of understanding and perception of the person of the accused.
I don’t know about his upbringing but by luck, divine intervention and what I will attribute to destiny, he rose to become the number three man in Nigeria.
Bukola Saraki has a way of getting like minds close to himself, especially when he notices loyalty, but as soon as he sees that you don’t deserve a place around him, he throws you out before you betray his vision. Like every normal human being, we are bound to make some mistakes in mingling with pretenders, disloyal elements that play eye service and stab from the back. These are bunch of people that hursed inordinate ambitions and tend to seek a place around him, a place of relevance only to fall out when their mission seems threatened.
He rode on his father’s back but jumped off into national relevance and found a place among the elites, managing himself and weathering the storms. After his tenure as governor, he found his way to the Senate and was not a bench warmer senator, he held valuable positions and made his mark.
He and his followers were lured into the All Progressives Congress party, APC after discussions and negotiation. He berthed long with his soldiers and associates, with Rotimi Amaechi very handy and supportive. Bukola Saraki, Amaechi and others from his side made the victory of Muhamadu Buhari very easy and historical, beating an incumbent President.
I remember that long before the elections, Bukola Saraki told newsmen in his home base about his ambition to become Senate President but he added a clause ‘just for your ears’ meaning, not a news item. When he started the struggle, Saraki reached out underground to relevant stakeholders, planning his vision and walking his talk. A pragmatic leader and strategic planner, he saw it ahead, he was several steps ahead of the evils of godfathers, to emerge the President of the 8th Senate of Nigeria.
The question that keeps bothering my mind is that if APC is made up of a group of intelligent politicians, why would they try to bring down the senate president just to satisfy the interest of one or few individuals in the party? Ahmed Tinubu produced President Muhamadu Buhari, produced Professor Yemi Osinbajo, Vice President, produced the Secretary to the Federal Government, SGF, wants to produce the Senate President and also the Speaker of the House of Representatives. But God in his love for Nigeria backed and used Dr Bukola Saraki as the speed breaker having a dependable ally in Yakub Dogara as they wrestle the National Assembly away from the jagaban and his cohorts.
I must give kudos to Senator Bukola Saraki for bringing a new lease of life into legislation in Nigeria as he closed the gap between partisan enmity and served as a bridge between the parties. For an APC Senate President to enjoy the cooperation of PDP lawmakers is highly commendable. Saraki brought maturity into play at the National Assembly.
It is laughable that APC, have not learnt from past mistakes as they are already fighting over what Saraki fought for. Those who blamed Saraki for not listening to the dictates of his party are now challenging the right of the party to impose leadership on the National Assembly. It still boils down to a party without the experience of managing success, if not do we have to be told that the National Assembly is a separate arm of government that must be allowed to function on its own without much external influence, else it may affect their performance? Is APC trying to create a rubber stamp legislature that will just dance to the tune of the President? This was how APC leadership shot themselves in the foot during the issue of Saraki’s Presidency at the National Assembly, they are at it again, the smoke that exposes fire is oozing out gradually. Thank God for Bukola Saraki, we shall soon see what he fought to protect and what Nigeria would have lost or suffered if Tinubu actually had his way, securing the Senate Presidency and Speakership of the House of Representatives.
Some people are making mockery of Saraki and some journalists are writing about his woeful fall, quite unfortunate. I never said that Bukola Saraki is a saint but the people of Ilorin made some miscalculations by aligning with their foes to bring down their own in a selfish display of enmity, undue sentiments, and unwarranted hatred. Some said that Saraki did not perform as expected, but they also forgot how many battles he fought and won. It is saddening that his kinsmen, who had age-long hatred for late Olusola Saraki came out to vent their anger on his son. The left wing politicians used all manner of antics to hijack power from Saraki using his own very people. In no distance time, the truth shall emerge and a new dawn will arise again.
To some pessimists, it is over for Saraki in politics, I call it wishful thinking. The Eagle molts and comes out to soar higher and stronger. He must have learned his lessons, returned to the drawing board and discover betraying friend, most of whom will decamp to the ruling party to secure their daily bread and display their political shamelessness. Time heals wounds, Saraki would be out again and Nigerians would realise that he is a prophet that ought to be praised by his people but betrayed by the same people. Thank God, he is still young, he cannot be the best president Nigeria never had. Let’s keep fingers crossed till its another dawn for Saraki in both local and national politics. To those who seek his fall to rise, a candid warning, ‘whoever destroys others in order to succeed meets destruction at the coast of success.’ Power is transient, Saraki cannot remain relevant forever but ending his term in politics in a manner that seeks his fall at all cost is a wrong signal that enemies are behind the door to take over the house after the bad boy who secured the house is dealt with. Once again, we keep fingers crossed.
God bless Nigeria.
Dasilva, is a Journalist based in Ilorin.