It was the first visit of Senate President, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki to the state since the verdict of the Supreme Court exonerated him from allegation of false assets declaration.
It however turned out to be a triumphant entry for Saraki and his entourage that will leave an indelible mark in the political narrative of the scion of the dynasty in the state. HEAD POLITICS, MUMINI ABDULKAREEM and MATTHEW DENIS captured the event.
Although the acquittal of Senate Prsident, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki by the Supreme Court over alleged false and anticipatory declaration of asset is nearing a month, the victory resonated in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital on Tuesday, when the political leader stormed the state, his maiden visit to his hometown since the judgment of the apex court.
Saraki’s visit, which has been described by many political analysts as a triumphant entry practically shut down the capital city and grounded traffic from the Ilorin International Airport to the palace of the Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Ibrahim Zulu-Gambari. He had visited the palace to pay a thank you visit to the royal father for all his supports and prayers while the trial lasted and for rallying the state in prayers.
For Saraki, who waved and smiled to the mammoth crowd from the roof of his vehicle throughout the ride, the action of the people only demonstrated their love and the impact the victory had on their political expectations and economic life.
Amidst numerous victory songs and dancing, his supporters and political apologists, who later lined the route had stormed the airport as early as 8:00am when news filtered in that the Senate President will be coming to the state.
It was observed at the airport that the supporters of the Senate President and the party, among other numerous political groups came to the airport with T-shirts, banners and songs in solidarity for the Senate President. The development gave the airport officials and the security personnel hectic time in their bid to ensure maintenance of law and order.
The political class in the state who were led by the Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) , Alhaji Ishola Balogun-Fulani, also comprised the creme d’la creme of political leaders, including Alhaji Bibire Ajape, Alhaji Sulyman Yusuf popularly known as ‘Maja’, former Commissioner for Education, Alhaji Ayinla Yeketi among others.
However, the chartered flight with No.N880ET that brought the Senate President and his entourage touched down at the airport at exactly 4:15pm to a tumultuous ovation from the supporters who had converged at the tarmac singing in vernacular, “winner oh oh oh, winner, winner you don win oh, winner, patapata you go win again oh, winner.”
Saraki, who was accompanied on the flight by the Speaker of the state’s House of Assembly, Dr. Ali Ahmad; Senator Rafiu Ibrahim; former Speaker of the state Assembly and chairman House Committee on Judiciary, Razak Atunwa; as well as former presidential spokesman, Dr. Doyin Okupe, among others.
While fielding questions from journalists, Saraki described his three-year trial as tough but expressed satisfaction that his followers never doubted his innocence as he had told them on many occasions.
“It’s been a long journey for all my own people in the state, and today we thank the Almighty God for this. I want to thank all of them who did not at any time waver. They believe in my innocence and supported me throughout those three very tough years and it was a great feeling for all of us.
“It is my first homecoming to thank them for all the support they have given me and the victory, for the fact that the truth prevailed and justice was done.
Asked whether he will be contesting the presidency and also if he will be leaving the APC, Saraki said he will make his plan about that public in due cause and at the right time.
“Today is a day for me to visit and more importantly thank the people for the support they have given for years.
“As I always say time (regarding my Political ambition) will come for everything, a time will come when I will tell people where I am, what I’m doing.
“For now it is just to thank the people of the state because the last three years have been tough and they are still committed and remain and I have to appreciate that.”, he added.
At the palace of the Emir, the monarch, Alhaji Ibrahim Zulu-Gambari congratulated Saraki over the victory and later presented the Senate President the Holy Qur’an as a special gift from the entire people of Ilorin Emirate.
It was not clear whether Saraki was cognisant of the import of his light blue Babariga and blue cap to match to the homecoming but it was a perfect combination with the victory when the semiotics of blue colours are taken into consideration to mean depth and stability which symbolises trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence, intelligence and faith among others.
For many political supporters of the Senate President, which cut across the state and nation from various political divides, the passing phase of the Saraki struggle with the enemy which the apex court has quashed should open another political vista for him to aspire for greater heights.
Already, there are talks that serious consultations are going on within various camps on what should be the next step for the Senate President now that God has vindicated and taken him over one of the banana peels against his future political ambition.
There are many school of thought who are of the opinion that Saraki’s triumph at the apex court was meant to fulfill a prophecy that had been echoed by many clergy men in the country about God using the collapsed CCT trial to prepare him for higher political office.
This school, which include many of the supporters of Saraki at home and in the diaspora believed this is the time for Saraki to act right in line with fulfilling) that prophecy now that the coast is clear.
But will Saraki enter the arena? While the question is yet to be answered, what is apparent is that his enemies will no doubt look for another peel that they think can fly this time around to shutdown the Senate President. But just like his constituents have long maintained, following the CCT triumph, no other weapon fashioned agianst Saraki will prosper.