Let me state from the start; this is not an attack on the personality of my brother, Modibo Kawu, the Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC). What I told him in private, I repeat here in the public sphere: I would be much anguished if he should lose his current position as DG of NBC because it would not be a loss limited only to him, or to his immediate family but another loss to our community, Ilorin, where today he also represents one of our foothold in the national polity, whether anyone likes it or not. Since he is suitably qualified to hold that post, it is my prayers that the Almighty Allah helps him to sit there till his term expires.
Having cleared this, I am pained most of the times reading Modibo Kawu’s diatribe against Saraki, and of late, the palace of Ilorin. Granted that we each have the constitutional backing to hold individual opinion on issues and people, I also know that we have cultural ethics that defines boundaries of such interventions. I understand why Modibo will not support Saraki now. I understand why he decided not to support him before now too. But my disposition is that the premise for the then and now is quite unfortunate, particularly from his side, and not worth of spending time discussing in the open. My disagreement with Modibo and the crowd of anti-Saraki from our community is the perceived failure to read clearly the undertones to the opposition against the Senate President.
But first, why should it be Saraki that we ought to support? The answer is simple and glaring: he’s from Ilorin and had stood by us. Saraki has carried our burden as his. Regardless of any real or imaginary benefits to him, it will be the height of deceit to deny that since becoming the governor of this state, Saraki has used his office to empower not a few people, and significantly our own people from the emirate. I’m speaking from the point of view of an emirate person, being sure that others from the remaining parts of Kwara will be able to account for their own involvement with supporting Saraki. It will be the height of deceit, and I dare repeat it, for anyone to deny what Saraki has done for us in the emirate, starting from his days as governor till now that he sits as President of the Senate.
Just few days ago his constituency office reeled out some of the projects he has, either as completed or ongoing, in several parts of Kwara central constituency. I dare any other politician from the zone to come out and do a similar enumeration, with facts and figures. But let me even concede that no other politician should be expected to do more than Saraki both because of the political structure he inherited and the fact of his current office as President of the Senate and Number Three man in Nigeria. Therefore he is only doing what he ought to do. Is that not commendable? But assuming he refuses to do so, one can only imagine what those blackmailing him today would say about his commitment, and about his pedigree.
When would Ilorin have another Number Three man in Nigeria? Why must we therefore waste this opportunity simply because the man there is not our friend?
If we pull Saraki down, as Modibo Kawu and his colleagues want to do, would that give Ilorin another voice in the national polity that will equal where the Almighty has placed him today? Can we so soon grow another in his status? I repeat; If we pull Saraki down, as Modibo Kawu and his colleagues want to do, would that give Ilorin another voice? Or would it make us an appendage of another godfather, somewhere else? We did it to Idiagbon. We said he was not laughing. What came to us as a community when maradona mounted the throne: relocation of federal establishments out of Ilorin. Our so called international airport would still have been mere field for cattle rearing if Saraki had not laboured to get it to where it is today.
The argument about having a political system that would not have a leader is amusing. And a ruse. Today, if he will tell the truth, Modibo Kawu has a political leader. His leader is in Lagos, with a representative in Oro, here in Kwara. And that is acceptable to me; I mean his having a leader, because that is the order of nature and the dictate of our culture and religion. Whether that is in the overall interest of kwara is another matter I leave to our fathers to decide.
To leave the minority make decision for the majority, and call that democracy; isn’t that absurd? How can you have a political system without a leader? Sir Abubakar Sadauna, Tafawa Belewa, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Joseph Tarka and a host of others were political leaders who championed the course of their communities to achieve peace, growth and development. Let any one point to a community without a leader that has ever achieved progress. None. By our culture and our religion, the place of leadership is not negotiable because that is what allows for order, cohesion, unity of purpose and remaining focused. If we claim to be religious, it is because we have a leader, a spiritual leader. To now desire to operate another system that denies leadership, won’t that make our claim to being religious puerile?
If indigenes like Modibo feel enraged by the decision of our royal father to confer a senior title on Saraki, I agree again, they have a right to their opinion and their feelings. Yet, it is this very freedom that should not allow them go beyond their limit, because every liberty has its limitation. Thus, I know that the decision to bestow honour on anyone is the prerogative of the Emir, administered according to dictates of history and tradition. And it is a beautiful fusion of politics, religion and culture for which a genuine indigene of the emirate should be proud of. If Saraki is not eminently deserving of this elevation, Kawu and his allies would do well to suggest those who are more qualified, and I hope they are not same seasonal politicians whose only agenda is bring-Sarai-down for no legitimate reason other than hatred.
But for hatred, what would make Modibo insinuate that Saraki wanted to sell the Emir’s palace? What motivated Modibo to say Saraki wanted to sell the Eid prayer ground? From then till now, Modibo has yet to show any evidence for these illegitimate accusations. If it were in a saner clime where professional ethics is sacrosanct, only God knows how many libel cases would have been hanging on him by now. But this is Nigeria. Anything goes, especially if it’s about bringing our leaders and brothers down.
They say they want freedom. And I ask, freedom from what? From what trade have they graduated that they are agitating for freedom? Whose is denying whose freedom? Is it the person who inherited affluence but struggling to empower others or those whose only stock in trade is bring others down? From Saraki’s perspective to Lagos hegemony? Ridiculous! It’s only here we stand against ours in deference to other lesser mortals.
I also heard Modibo said Saraki is not from Ilorin. But as a scholar that he is, he knows Ilorin is a point of ethnic covergence. It was founded by a Yoruba man called Ojo Isekuse whose activity gave the name “ibitiwontilorin” which later metamorphosed to Ilorin. Apart from Ojoisekuse, Afonja and Sholagberu, we also have Fulani, Hausa, Nupe, Kanuri and kemberi stakeholders in Ilorin which plays host to other Nigerians and foreigners. Ilorin is a peaceful city, capital of kwara state. Modibo must not allow his personal ambition and grudge cause disharmony in the state of harmony. It’s painful that instead of addressing issues of development of our community, youth empowerment, Kawu would descend to the arena by fanning embers of discord to satisfy his masters abroad. But I raised it because we all have our history. We all have our individual stories. Some are exciting, some are humbling. To continue to raise unfounded allegations about Saraki’s ancestral place in Ilorin, is the height of perfidy. And perhaps that was why someone said, assuming, without conceding, that Saraki is not from Ilorin, and so what? He has so far borne his surname with pride. Some others cannot do that.
*Oba can be reached via e-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org