24 Nov 2012

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Dr. Bukola Saraki

The visitors are still trooping in, both the lowly and highly placed. And Dr. Bukola Saraki, the first son and eldest child of late Second Republic Senate Leader, Dr. Olusola Saraki, is still holding court, receiving the sympathizers and mourners. Oloye Saraki died Wednesday, last week (November 14), and the Kwara State Government had declared a three-day mourning period, which ended last week Friday.

But the people of the state are still mourning a leader they so much loved and adored. Former Governor Bukola Saraki has since relocated to the Ilofa GRA residence of his late father where he is receiving the horde of sympathizers at the Great Hall, as the main living room of his late father is called. Bukola is the chief mourner (wait a moment, isn’t the state Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed who declared a three-day mourning period ought to be chief mourner?) I glimpsed one photograph published in a newspaper last week in the wake of Oloye’s demise where Bukola Saraki sat with his visitor on an expansive, glamorous chair and the governor sat in a somewhat cringing posture on a seat beside him. Some may reckon that the one who lost his dad is the appropriate chief mourner and they may be right. But truth is that picture also speaks to the political configuration in the state, the power and political structure of the state at present. Take it or leave it, former governor Saraki is the new Lord of the Manor, so to say.

And he holds tenaciously to that; he flaunts it and guards it jealously. It’s his trump card to leverage relevance in national politics. It is not that Saraki has just become the ultimate political leader in the state. He had been since he became the governor of the state in 2003 after he and his late dad fought through the skins of their teeth to wrest power from his friend and former governor, Muhammed Lawal, they helped to put in office in the first instance.

However, his hold on the political levers of the state, throwing him up as the leader, the godfather, emerged clearly towards the end of his tenure in 2011 and the election to pick his successor. He openly disagreed with his father who had wanted his sister, Gbemisola Saraki, to succeed him and had moved from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party in the state to found the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria to actualise Gbemi’s ambition. It was a loud disagreement; in the end the younger Saraki’s will prevailed. He installed his former commissioner Abdulfatah Ahmed as governor, dusting both his father and blood sister in the process. Welcome the new godfather.

But no one, not this writer in the least, should deny the highly revered Oloye Saraki who identified and worked with the masses of Kwara people all his life the honourable rites of passage due to him as he is getting at present or to attempt to lower his esteem or essence by talking about the immediate past, the gory aspect of the relationship between father and son. We should look into the future and perhaps celebrate Bukola’s political ascendancy.

If you ask me, Bukola Saraki was too much in a hurry. I think he would have ultimately inherited Saraki’s political dynasty. I think his father actually wanted it that way. One proof of this: when the elder Saraki stepped down as Turaki of Ilorin to ascend the higher title of Waziri, he backed his son to take over as Turaki and it was with pomp and ceremony in Ilorin. I think the younger Saraki should have employed more tact and wisdom in handling that case rather than fighting openly and washing the family’s dirty underwear in public for all to see.

And this leads me to my main point: as Oloye Saraki’s era ends and his son, Senator Saraki, ascends as the ultimate godfather in the state, can he really step into his father’s shoes? Does he really has all it takes to wear those shoes without the pains that goes with wearing an inappropriate shoe size? The late Oloye Saraki was a man of the people. In a way he lived with and for them - forget the fact that he lived in the GRA and they in Okelele, Baboko or Oja-oba. Oloye identified with them, they thronged his house daily, they took their problems to him and he solved it for them.

Can the present Senator Saraki live with that? Picture a horde of Kwarans thronging his house daily and demanding attention and means of livelihood regularly. His discomfiture, his scorn at that can only be better imagined. Truth is the younger Saraki lacks that easy bonhomie, that pro-people mien, the we-are-in-it-together comportment, the patience, the large heart of his late father. Forget political sagacity, the younger Saraki may have the political savvy of his late father, that which helped the older Saraki in 1983 outwit the late Adamu Attah and install Cornelius Adebayo and which also helped the younger Saraki and his father end the  late Muhammed Lawal’s reign in 2003, leaders should wield power for their people, to affect their lives. The younger Saraki looks to me as too aloof from the people.

Tags: Nigeria, Featured, MELES ZENAWI, Politics, Godfather

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