Agbaji, day after poll


By Mumini Abdulkareem

It was past 9:00am Sunday morning, the atmosphere at Agbaji, Ajikobi area in Ilorin West Local Government of Kwara State, which serves as ancestral home of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, was calm, a day after the Presidential and the National Assembly elections, which sent shock waves across the state.
The building that housed the polling units where Saraki and his siblings, Senator Gbemisola voted, PU005 and PU006 respectively have been stripped of the several voting activities that were its hallmark the previous day.
Residents who confirmed Gbemisola cast her vote in the polling unit contrary to the report that she may have shunned the exercise and lost the opportunity to exercise her franchise, said she arrived the area around past twelve in the afternoon devoid of her usual charisma but full of life all the same and asking whether some of those around had voted.
Some youths in the area who sat in a circular arrangement at the front of the polling unit were seen preparing for a community meeting while the arrangement of chairs and canopies were ongoing behind them.
Glance across the street fell on some of the residents who gathered in clusters, some numbering about ten persons discussing the poll exercise held on Saturday; some in hush and loud tones. The pitch of their voices or discussion fell and dropped intermittently but were centred on what they felt went wrong that saw Saraki for the first time in the state losing an election of which he personally contested to any opposition.
For many of these residents, Saraki has proved that he is well loved by his kinsmen contrary to the perception that is being portrayed by the opposition by winning his polling unit landslide by 269 to 59 votes against his opponent and fellow doctor, Ibrahim Yahaya Oloriegbe of the All Progressives Congress (APC) unlike several other political leaders in the country. But what they find disturbing and unfathomable was the attitude of those they described as sheep in wolf’s clothing who voted against the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Saraki after initially boasting that they can receive a bullet for him.
A walk further down the community and into the heart of Agbaji was nothing different from the scenario witnessed outside. Although some of the traders and shop owners carried on with their trade; attending to customers and busy executing one domestic chore or the other, the discussion about the poll was the major talking point for the elderly, youths and others who engage in a post mortem analysis of the whole exercise. The question on many lips was majorly on the alleged betrayal of some supposed die-hard apologists of the PDP and the dynasty who had shown no sign of revolt few hours to the commencement of election.
Down the street one of the old Islamic learning centres within the vicinity, children were heard echoing in loud voices the instruction of a local community teacher often referred to as “Malim” in the Islamic parlance to memorise some portions of the Glorious Qur’an which were oft-repeated and at times sonorously. If ever they were aware of the concern outside the decrepit building, their action belied it.
But, behind the Islamic learning centre, a few steps further down the road stood an imposing and gigantic building and an architectural masterpiece called the Agbaji Central Mosque still under construction solely funded by the Senate President. To many residents, that facility and several others that were funded by Saraki across the state, signify his interest and commitment to the growth and upliftment of the Islam in the state. But, what will happen to such project and several other philanthropic works that Saraki is funding within the community and the state remains to be seen now, a concerned resident expressed concern.
Right opposite mosque, precisely at the resident of the Chief Imam of Agbaji, Alhaji Aminullahi Tantolohun, an important activity was going on. It was a prayer session by some of the residents under the auspices of the Islamic leader to thank Almighty Allah (SWT) for all He has done and for what transpired the previous day during the election exercise.
According to Imam Tantolohun, irrespective of the outcome of the election, there is the greater need to thank God for what He has done for the community and its illustrious son, Dr Bukola Saraki despite all the negative things the opposition had tried to fly about him.
But what is the advice from the Imam to his subjects and community especially? They must always accept the decree and judgment of Almighty Allah on the people, he said, adding that ‘we must all purge ourselves of jealousy and hatred for our kinsmen who God has elevated.
‘We have supported him (Saraki) all along and we demonstrated that support and affinity we have for him during the election held on Saturday. We have nine polling units in Agbaji and we voted for him to emerge winner in all of them. We ensured it was a clean sweep for him.
‘For us, it was all about the progress and development of the community and the state in general because of what the position of the Senate President has attracted and still continue to attract to the state. If we now decided to gang up to remove him, who are we going to put there.
‘My advice for him (Saraki) is that those around him are his real problem. They are the ones that the people revolted against because of their attitude to the multitude of people that Saraki is extending his hand of help and large heart by reaching out to them. And yet some lack the ability to canvass even one member of their family to vote for the person of their choice.
‘As a leader, you can’t see all the people around you but my prayer which is the second leg of my advice for him is that Almighty Allah(SWT) should surround him with good and genuinely trust worthy people who truly care about him and his community and not themselves’, he added.
For Imam Tantolohun, Saraki should accept what happened as an act of Almighty Allah and continue to strengthen his faith in Him because the Creator has better things in store for him going forward in life.
He also said those who have been so favoured in this instance with the (results) should see it as an act of God also.
For the residents that expressed worry on the fate of Agbaji Central Mosque and other philanthropic activities of the Senate President, the Imam has this to say: “Saraki should continue with all the good deeds he has been doing and even increase it for his people. That will make him a man of faith before his Creator. He should not stop touching the lives of the people from what God has given him just because of this test from Allah.”

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