By Abdulwahab Oba
Every Ilorin and Kwara State native, who read Anti-Saraki Ilorin Purism by the Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) Ishaq Modibbo Kawu and Zakaryau Sambo of Usman Danfodiyo University’s response entitled: Re-Ilorin is an ethnogenesis, would surely feel a deep sense of deliberate misrepresentation of facts. Even worse, a selfish and conscious attempt at advancing diversionary ideas. As jaundiced and pretentious as both Kawu and Sambo and their inability to disguise hate for the Sarakis did a lot more damage to their warped psychology and intellectual sophistry, leaving the articles impulsive deceptive and grossly misguided.
Without doubt, Sambo’s submission in response to Farooq’s highly cerebral and intellectual exposition on Kawu’s anti-Saraki Ilorin purism and Kawu’s intellectual arrogance, would continue to enrage those who know Ilorin and Kwara State history beyond politics and raucous greed, and to whom such rape of historical facts would continue to bookmark the presence in the state of a few whose claim to intelligence is defined by hate, division and self-glory.
The arm-twisted facts of history present a jarring change of tactics, but nobody is surprised or fooled anymore. Beyond targeting the Senate President and former governor of Kwara State, Dr Bukola Saraki, both Kawu and Sambo aimed to score cheap and win dirty by overlooking the path of honour.
Sieving through Kawu and Sambo’s separate historical excursions, one gets the understanding that their claims to knowing Ilorin and Kwara history is only perfect and good so long as they disparage the Sarakis regardless of historical facts and realities. This is why they deserve everyone’s sympathy, especially in today’s world where nativity as exemplified by the United States of America and other European countries count to naught. As technologically advanced as America, its history cannot be complete without mentioning the contributions of slaves in building it. Yet, the Sarakis’ legitimacy to Ilorin is not only defined by historical facts but unparalleled commitment to its good.
And for the umpteenth time, it needs to be made clear that I don’t defend Saraki because he is the best thing that ever happened to Kwara or Ilorin, as the case maybe. Nor, my coming to his defence, because he is an angel, or that anyone is holier than God. My admiration is borne out of his sacrifice of personal comfort for justice, equality and competence in the distribution and access to political offices in the state.
At a time when we never knew the difference between the poor and the rich in Ilorin, Saraki contributed and donated his resources to the development of various communities in the state. Again, when the status of people were determined by the educational acquisitions of their children, Saraki, the father, invested his wealth in the development of other people’s children through provision of essential education infrastructure to towns and communities.
Saraki, the father, who these men of small mind and mean character say was not part of Ilorin; championed the building of our collective heritage, the Ilorin Central Mosque, while many were preoccupied with personal housing projects for their unborn children. And as destiny would have it, Saraki, the son, transformed the work of his father to an ultra modern mosque. Yet, they despise his Ilorin origin.
Believe it or not, the Sarakis gave Ilorin a voice and recognition among its neighbour. The Sarakis ensured that Kwara State, in the face of its size and little resources, can no longer be wished away among other states of the federation. Without any doubt, my admiration for the Sarakis derived from the fact that they ensured the North Central geopolitical region of the country can no longer be marginalised in the scheme of things in Nigeria. In my life time, the Sarakis, Sheikh Kamaldeen Al-Adaby, Sheikh Adam Abdullahi El-Ilory, Justice Alfa Belgore, Justice Saidu Kawu, Justice Mustapha Akanbi, Amuda Kannike, Amuda Gobir, among others, grew to become some of the best products of Ilorin, and stand shoulder to shoulder high among indigenes of other communities.
But for these men of honour, Ilorin would have remained subjected to the dictates of other communities. This is what Modibbo Kawu and his co-travellers in ignorance and hatred are seeking to undo. May Allah forbid.
Pitiablly too, in their warped imaginations, Saraki would be the worst that ever happened to Kwara, because he created an equal level playing field for the rich and the poor in the political equation of the state. Today, access to political power is no longer defined by ‘foreigners’ in our midst, who come home to marginalise us with accumulated wealth. Instead, political access is now a function of competence and relevance as some self acclaimed elite no longer determine our future, but are co-stakeholders.
How else could Saraki have identified with the grassroots after leaving his comfort zone to hold the banner of our people at the national political level? Except for their likes, Kwara North and Kwara central had always identified with each other and abided by religious teachings that Allah bestows leadership on whom He wills. From the background of academics, one expected Farooq to factually demonstrate his assertions and accusations against Saraki. In contrast, he couldn’t.
Worst still, Farooq ignominiously impugned the character of Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed. What a debasement of academic excellence! Certainly, had any of his students made such baseless submissions, our learned Farooq would have sought a proof. It is in Farooq’s court to, therefore, provide evidence of his allegations regarding the relationship between Saraki and Governor Ahmed. One is encouraged to speak straight and with assuredness, having worked with the duo and witnessed the mutual respect and trust they have for each other. Today, as the Governor, Dr Abdulfatah Ahmed holds sway in the state, while Dr Saraki remains the political leader, and we are proud of the shared responsibilities for effectiveness.
Sadly, in their small world, Kawu and Sambo reckon that people’s identity or, better still, name, is all there is, and not about historical facts. And, so because Dr Bukola Saraki’s includes “Olu” which they trace to the Yoruba, he is less Kwaran, yet the revered Emir of Ilorin, deemed him fit and qualified to be conferred with the traditional title of Wazirin Ngeri. Or, could Kawu and Sambo know any better of Ilorin and the history of Kwara than the Emir, the custodian of our culture and tradition?
Indeed, I maintain that to insinuate Saraki is not from Ilorin is an open attack on the Emir’s stool and any such person needs everyone’s help. Ilorin and Kwara’s history is replete with evidences of Saraki’s devotion to the growth and development of the state, particularly identifying with the less-privileged. It is, therefore, curious to imagine that in a world where people, including strangers, get integrated into societies on account of their contributions to its development, Kawu and his ilks are obsessed with hate for Saraki that they develop a blind spot to all he has done since the creation of the state and still.
This is why Kawu and Sambo’s pitiable masturbation in falsehood is a red flag and source of concern. Perhaps, were they to respect the sanctity of facts and rid off fantasies and monotonous serialisation of lies, no one would have bothered. It would seem that in their hollow and poor spinal reflexes, all they see is Saraki. Or, perhaps, running Saraki down is all Kawu and his hate gang need to come into reckoning as they sizzle out of people’s consciousness. More often than is probably in their interest in the last few years, Saraki’s profile has continued to soar higher every day in comparison to Kawu, Sambo and whoever their sponsors were, combined.
The last time anyone checked, Saraki had gone from a Presidency Aide to became governor; and from governor to Senate President. And, there are still more to come. Thanks to a devotion to service and ideals that promote development and unity. In sharp contrast, Kawu has served and reported to Saraki, and only recently, saved from threatening oblivion with the NBC appointment in which he has yet to acquit himself. The truth is, in all of Kawu’s weaponised lies and attacks on Saraki, the people have continued to trust in Saraki’s visionary leadership. With the benefit of history and Kawu’s antecedents, only the unsuspecting would expect any less from Kawu, who seems eternally hurting and unforgiving over the former governor’s refusal to compromise expediency and policy guidelines in the award of broadcast equipment supplies contract, which Kawu craved decades ago. Interestingly, however, in all the attacks and manipulation of facts by people envious of Saraki’s Sky-high credentials, he has continued to steadily defy odds by bucking orthodoxy, time and time again.
Perhaps, serving as a moral lesson to those whose preoccupation is to bring others down by merchandising and dressing lies in saintly garb, the Saraki conundrum, for people like Kawu and Sambo, will keep them busy at nothing but self-hurt. Yet it is important to warn that the world has long gone beyond petty jealousy as exemplified by Kawu and Sambo’s drab articles, to thinking on positively impacting people and society at large, irrespective of colour, religion, race or creed.
*Oba can be reached via e-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org