Senator Bukola Saraki,
From all indications, former Kwara State governor, Senator Bukola Saraki, remains the dominant factor in the politics of the state, Hammed Shittu writes
Former Kwara State Governor and Senator, representing Kwara Central, Senator Bukola Saraki shoulders heavy political responsibilities. To inherit his father’s empire, Saraki is not oblivious of the need to go a notch up and improve on his legacy. This is because his late father, the strongman of Kwara politics and Second Republic Senate Leader, Dr. Olusola Saraki, wrote his name in the sand of time, both in Kwara and national politics.
For several years, the late Saraki held Kwara in his hands, not by sheer coercion but politics of human capital development. Thus, without Saraki, the Kwara story is incomplete.
However, this is a challenge for the younger Saraki and he would not shy away from it. Having governed Kwara State for eight years before consolidating his political career with a senate seat- an assignment that has boosted his political profile, Saraki sure knows how to relate with his people- combining both his style and that of his late father. The new style shows civility and underscores a shift from the past.
First, upholding the political structure of the family is not negotiable and two, the welfare of the people of the state who hold the family in high esteem cannot be traded on account of self-serving purposes. Thus, to achieve the equilibrium, the younger Saraki seems to have devised a means of balancing that has kept Kwara even closer to the family.
A few weeks ago, Saraki, displaying an understanding of the needs of his people, provided two grader machines to rehabilitate some of the rural roads, not just in his senatorial district but other parts of the state.
As early as 9.00am, dignitaries including the Governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed, were in attendance to be part of the occasion. While launching the project, Saraki said he needed to fulfill his campaign promises of assisting his constituents and emphasise the fact that representation must not start and end with contributions to debates on the floor of the upper chamber.
Although he did not indicate the monetary worth of the two graders, the former governor said his decision was in following the admonition of his late father who always insisted on empowerment of his followers. He said the services of the graders are not to be paid for but that whichever one of the communities needed it should only submit a letter of request to the appropriate committee in charge.
But that was not the first time he would embark on such projects as a senator. He had inaugurated similar ideas in the areas of education, health, water and empowerment. For instance, Saraki had sunk over 160 boreholes across his senatorial district as well as empowered those who would maintain the boreholes with the sum of N50,000 each.
Also, on power supply, he had purchased over 200 transformers for the people of his senatorial area in order to reduce the epileptic power supply. This gesture alone has enhanced the economic activities in the area.
His effort in education has also enthralled the people of Kwara because it ranks amongst such initiatives that transcend his district. Students in the state were provided free Joint Admission and Matriculation examination forms under the Senator Bukola Saraki Education Support Programme to enable them gain admission to nation’s tertiary institutions like university, polytechnics and colleges of education.
Saraki did not leave it at that. He also instituted free extra-mural classes for the students in all the three senatorial district of the state. Qualified teachers in various core subjects like Mathematics, English, Biology, Physics and Chemistry were employed to teach the students as part of effforts to help them pass their examinations and increase the literacy level of the people.
Such centres include Ilorin Foundation, Gari-Alimi for Kwara central senatorial candidates; Iyeru Okin primary School, Offa, for Kwara south senatorial candidates while Lafiagi Central School was for candidates from Edu and Patigi axis. Okuta Central Primary School was marked out for candidates from Kaiama Baruteen axis- all in the Kwara North senatorial district.
Interestingly, many have related his latest exploits to his days as governor. As governor between 2003 and 2011, Saraki, many say would be remembered for the transformational growth of the state across all sectors including roads, employment, women development, youths empowerment, agricultural revolution, education, health and civil service reform among others.
That aside, he has also seen to a peaceful co-existence of the people of Kwara at every given opportunity. His recent peace advocacy between the people of Offa and Erin-Ile was a case study as he suspended his foreign trip and personally visited the two warring towns where he met the Olofa of Offa, Oba Mufutau Gbadamosi and Elerin of Erin-Ile, Oba Abdulganiyu Ibrahim at their different palaces and appealed to them to embrace. The lawmaker’s position has always been that development cannot thrive where there is no peace.
Saraki, however, commended his successor for moving the state forward, saying such commitments needed to be encouraged and complemented by others through his kind of gesture.
The Governor, while speaking, promised to ensure that every rural road rehabilitated by the grader will be tarred by government to further complement Saraki’s efforts. He described the commitment of the lawmaker to the state as a demonstration of the benefits of the continuity in government and therefore, charged the beneficiaries to ensure proper maintenance of the projects in their areas.
Earlier at another forum, Saraki had tasked leaders of Ilorin Emirate Development Progressive Union (IEDPU) on the need to ensure that there is no communication gap between his office and theirs and pledged total support for the union. Saraki made the request when leaders of the union, led by its President and former Chief Judge of the state, Justice Saka Yusuf, paid him a courtesy visit.
Saraki urged the indigenes of Ilorin emirate to continue to appreciate the peace in the community and ensure that whatever needed to be done to maintain is done.
"God has given some of us the opportunity to move around various parts of this country and we see the challenges they face but God has been kind to Ilorin. I am committed to the development of Ilorin and we will work together on this. I can assure you that there is no other agenda than this."
Yusuf, however, said the visit was to personally appreciate Saraki for donating a 32-seater bus to the union, a gesture he admitted was novel. He described Saraki as a trust worthy politician who always matches his words with action.
Through that gesture, he said Saraki has shown to be a true son of his father who, unlike other politicians, always fulfilled his promises.
Perhaps, there might be no ulterior motives apart from merely taking after his father. But that such gesture would go a long way in consolidating the family’s hold on the state is trite. And since Saraki is not oblivious of the larger political implications of his moves, he might as well continue to buy into more of such initiatives that would see the family control the state for many generations.