BY ABDULWAHAB OBA
This piece was first published in September, 2015 at the peak of the trial of Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki by the CCT. For its relevance to the moment, but first time in five years of starting this column, I’m repeating a published piece:
In the politics of Nigeria, it is apparent Kwara would have gone completely unheard of, given her place in the political geography of Nigeria but for a few men who have stood over the years and gave Kwara a sense of belonging and pride of place among others in the country. Due largely to the accident of history and location, Kwarans have always had to fight for every place they got in the land because Nigerians from the south-west would not easily accept us as being a part of them even when we have a large population that share cultural traits and language with them.
The people from what is referred to as the core north, incidentally, a platform for derogation when extended to others outside of the scope in reference, would equally not accept a Kwaran who may not be able to speak the Hausa language like them. And within the north-central zone where Kwara currently finds herself, the state is a minority, thus intensifying the need for real struggle to get anything meaningful from the central pot.
It is within this context that I want to intervene in the ongoing face-off between Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki and those who are apparently working round the clock to bring him down at all cost. Saraki, I am sure, is able to defend himself within the legal and constitutional provisions of the land and so I will not dabble into what is before the court of law. What I seek to do here is to draw the attention of my fellow Kwarans to the implications of the battle the senate president is being made to fight currently, particularly as it affects our interest as sons and daughters of the land. But for the likes of Saraki, the way things are in this country, it would have been difficult to hear the name of our state. When I say the likes of Saraki, I am by no means belittling the contributions of other men and women in the state who have risen to positions of prominence in their professions and have therefore made us proud as Kwarans. I recognise the immense contributions of the great house of Sheikh Alimi , whose royal connection and educational achievements earned honour and dignity for our community. The Nda Salatys, the Belgores, the Sheikhs Kamaldeens, the Adam Al-Iloris and a host of others who have all contributed to bring dignity to our community.
On the political tuff, we cannot but remember our worthy ambassadors and voices at the national scene like the Sanni Okins, the Yahaya Madawakis, the Saadu Alanamus, the Buhari Eduns, the Sule Maintos, the Adebimpe Oniyeyes, the J.S. Olawoyins, the Awoniyis, the Abdulmalik Attahs , the Daniyans and a host of others too numerous to mention in this space. May Almighty God grant them eternal rest. Yet, without evocation, no one can deny the giant contributions the Saraki political dynasty has made to the process of ‘announcing Kwara’ in Nigeria. Some might not have liked his face while he was alive, but no one would deny that any time the name of the late Dr. Olusola Saraki was mentioned, the next thing would be the name of Kwara and vice versa. His was a singular contribution that stamped the name of Kwara firmly on the political geography of Nigeria.
Like his father, the Senate President has also sacrificed enormously to enthrone his current party in power. He willingly put aside his presidential ambition, to which he was and is entitled under the law, in order to ensure that his party had a good showing in the last general election. And now, the hounds are after him, seeking to tear him apart. And that is where my concept of a threatened destiny derives from. I am not referring to Bukola Saraki’s destiny, actually. Rather, I am making reference to the collective destiny of concerned Kwarans who can understand and see an attempt to silence a key figure that has given us voice in a comity of states where we are a minority and we have had to struggle to get anything at all. If they succeed in pulling Saraki down, God forbid, the implications are that we would have lost our voice and authority as a people in this nation.
It is our collective destiny that is being threatened. The people of Lagos understood this type of threat when their leader, Senator Bola Tinubu faced a similar attack in the days of former President Goodluck Jonathan. And because they understood that it was more of politics and power struggle to silence the man who is no doubt the voice of the state and paved the way for its conquest by political hawks, they mobilised and rose to rally round the then beleaguered Tinubu. At the last count, there were over 60 senior lawyers that accompanied the man to court. Though he was docked but he remained unbruised. He received a heroic welcome in Lagos and other western states.
Despite Tinubu’s label as the Lion of Bourdillon arising from his alleged stupendious wealth, by the Jonathan campaign organisation, majority of Lagosians stood by Jagaban and voted massively for APC. They realised early enough that you can not throw the “bad” guy to be devoured by the lion. I expect nothing less from our people. Our legal luminaries, the Alfas and pastors all should rise to rescue our son and voice. Our mothers and fathers must not sleep for their son and our destiny is threatened. Parents praying for the success and progress of their children should not wish others fall. Youths who want to grow and succeed should pray and support those who have grown and succeeded. Kwara cannot be like Ondo without a national voice.
I recollect, Osun state governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola mobilising a large crowd of supporters from his state, largely because he too understood the threat to the destiny of the Yoruba people by the then political trial of Asiwaju Tinubu. Ajumobi and Amosun did the same thing for their idol and benefactor. The entire Yoruba nation stood for Tinubu.
We cannot do less, in Kwara. We must first of all, rise up and pray. Prayer is one of the effective weapons we have as a people to handle situations like this. And next to prayer, we must mobilise ourselves through every legal and acceptable judicial means to protect this voice of our collective destiny from being silenced by another form of impunity. In the south, we are disadvantaged by reason of our location on the map of Nigeria. In the north we are disadvantaged by reason of our tongue even though we sit next to them and share the same faith. We cannot afford to go into another form of colonisation where we cannot determine what we want but someone from outside will be handing over crumbs to us. No! Where are our legal luminaries? Where are our religious leaders? I cannot name names here but I expect them to begin fervent prayers to the Almighty to turn this tide of the adversary back on them. That is the least we can do, for a man whose destiny is link to ours.
Do not forget; we castigated Alimi Razak, Muhammad Lawal, Babatunde Idiagbon and lost what would have been derivable from their heroism. Why should we always rejoice at the perceived downfall of others? Sheikh Alimi , Sheikh Nda Salaty, Sheikh Belgore, Sheikh Kamaldeen, Sheikh Adam Abdullahi must not rise from their sleep before we do the needful. Our people must remember “teni begi loju, igi aruwe”.
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