By Abdulwahab Oba
This is a decisive week for Nigerians, home and abroad, as we engage the ballot box to choose our next president and federal lawmakers. The election is even more significant for us in Kwara as it is about whether we are ready to allow outsiders decide our destiny or control our lives by ourselves. It is an election that determines whether we are ready to see our state becoming literally subservient to a political structure from another state, an order that subjugates our destiny to the whims and caprices to extraneous forces. And I’m concerned by the prospects inherent in the proposed new order being aggressively propounded by some spent forces and self-proclaimed elders and leaders who met yesterday; and thank God, they said they are APC members; to re-endorsed their candidates without telling us what we stand to benefit as a state or what we have benefited in concrete terms that is commiserate with what we have contributed to the ruling party.
Their mission, as always is to denigrate, demonise and castigated the Sarakis for egoistic reasons. While I have no reason to debar anyone from making his choice in a political environment, it was repulsive to see these elders pretending to be non partisan before taking decision while it is well known that they all belong to the same APC whose candidates they now endorsed. Except there is a serious internal wrangling within their party, which I can boldly confirm, and which they needed to douse, that press meeting was a needless exercise. Otherwise ask me, who should they have endorsed if not their own party men? Anyway, this goes to show how very deceitful these people could be and why in reality we should not follow their footsteps.
Their chorus is specifically to wrestle power and authority from being directed from within to the exclusivity of the wealthy and the connected from without. It is not a struggle between them and Saraki but between them and the ordinary Kwaran who can aspire to and achieve his limit on a level plain field. They may deny this allegation as much as they can but even events since the last bye election in the state and the readiness of political actors in the opposition to take their main campaigns to Lagos go to support our stand that they are preparing the ground well enough for our subjugation to the lords of Lagos.
Anyone truly committed to the cause of Kwara state will shudder at the possibilities inherent in this political proposal. Anyone who read the bare-all interview by Sokoto state Governor and the revelation of the real cause of conflict between Senator Bukola Saraki and Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu, will shudder at what members of the APC in Kwara state are canvassing that we should embrace at the ballot. According to Governor Tambuwal, the only offence Saraki committed against Tinubu was his insistence on a non Muslim/Muslim ticket for the APC during the 2015 presidential election. “Asiwaju; I know what the game is. We had insisted that Bola Tinubu should not be running mate to Buhari. Buhari had already caved in, and we said that with Muslim-Muslim ticket, we could not win and that was my first offence. That was my first offence with Tinubu. That was also the offence by Bukola, offence by Yari. So, I pleaded and pleaded and it got to the point that I left where I was seated and knelt before Asiwaju and held his knees and said ‘Asiwaju, I am begging you, I am appealing on behalf of Bukola, please forgive him for whatever sins.’ He said, “Aminu, go back and sit down.” I told him we can resolve this issue and he said how? I said, “if you agree, Bukola can become Deputy Senate President,” he said no, no. I said I could go and talk to Bukola. And I told him my reasons why I was supporting Bukola. I said outside my relationship with him (Saraki), in my presence, in the presence of God, in your study, you encouraged Bukola to go and become senator so that he could become Senate President. In my presence, only three of us with God! You Asiwaju, you did that.” This revelation has not been disputed by any one. Vengeance!
Tinubu is against Saraki because Saraki stood for his conscience like any one with dignity and integrity will rightly do. Anyone who truly loves Nigeria will never propose a Muslim/Muslim ticket. Nigeria has been unfortunately divided along ethno-religious line with palpable suspicion among all. Other than standing for us, what has Saraki done badly that will make us look outside our shores for leadership? Tinubu is leading Lagos and parts of the South West. So, should we not celebrate that ours is leading our state and the middle belt? Like Tinubu or Buhari, Saraki does not lay claim to perfection; only God is perfect. But no matter the foibles, except there are other hidden agenda, which obviously are, “omo eni oni sedi bebere kafi ileke si idi omo elomi” :No matter the shortcomings of your child, you do not undress him for another person’s child. Let us tell ourselves frankly what their proposal portends: The Yoruba say that if you give a hoe to a mad man, he will clear the land towards himself. There is no way that we will hand over our fortunes to Lagos that Lagos will not dictate what happens here, who gets what etc. Power allocation and its subsequent benefits are products of the man holding the stick and the carrot.
I was impressed by the commitment expressed by the Emir of Lafiagi when the PDP campaign train hit his town last week. It was great listening to the Emir insisting on the need to protect the age-long affiliation between our various people in the state while supposedly enlightened and informed persons will be the ones at the forefront of efforts to hand over our land to the very people our fathers fought to retain our land and sustain our heritage. Our elders need to talk to our young ones to understand like I pointed out last week that it is never done; no matter how ugly your own child is, you don’t leave that child to go and beautify another child.
The Saraki dynasty has been a blessing to Kwara, forget all the noise from the opposition. That family has been a strong pillar for our state and have promoted us beyond our size and our resources. There is no way to divorce the records of that dynasty from the history and fortunes of Kwara and any attempt to do so now would most likely be an attempt to deny that the Almighty has a way of using individuals like the Sarakis for the benefit of humanity wherever they are birthed.
For one, Saraki has provided political sanity and inclusiveness to our body polity. Truth be told, you don’t have to be rich to have opportunities in the Saraki political structure. As a matter of fact, one of the criticisms of Baba Saraki, the founder of that dynasty was that you didn’t even have to be extremely educated or literate to have a shot at public opportunities. This is a structure that takes men from the lowest rung of the ladder and showcase them to the world at large.
We can count again and again, the number of people, old and young, but particularly men and women who by virtue of economic and social inequalities would not have been opportuned to smell public office, but who by privilege of being in the structure have become household political names today. Even most of those seeking to destroy the structure today, quite a sizeable number are of this category of men and women: they were in the structure, they had enjoyed every opportunity and only rebelled when the door was opened to others like them to come and also partake. So, are we saying enough is enough for giving opportunities to men and women without considering their social exposure or financial muscle? Are we saying it is enough for us, we don’t want important political positions in Nigeria?
Kwarans, wake up. Let’s resist the unfortunate proposal being brandied by desperate rich men who are angry that another rich man is giving opportunities to poor young men and women to become somebody in life instead of restricting the band of wealth within their own circle alone.
*Oba can be reached via e-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org