They are supposed to be, literally, two peas in a pod. As children of the same parents, Bukola Saraki, the incumbent Senate President, and his sister, Gbemi, a two-term Senator, also share a striking physical resemblance. That is however where the similarities end. Politics has driven a wedge between the siblings and, by extension, the Saraki family.
Bukola is a two-term governor of their native Kwara State and is seeking a third term as a Senator representing Kwara Central Senatorial district. Gbemi, an Economics graduate of the University of Sussex, UK, was first elected a member of the House of Representatives in 1999 on the platform of the All People’s Party, APP, before being elected a Senator in 2003 and 2007 as a PDP member.
Attempts by their late father, Oloye Olusola Saraki, to make Gbemi succeed her brother as Kwara State governor failed as Bukola instead pitched his tent with the incumbent Governor Ahmed Abdulfatah.
So committed to the Gbemi for governor project was their late father that he went ahead to float the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN) on which she eventually ran and lost. Bukola simply refused to release the Saraki structure for his sister. This polarised the family but father and son reportedly made up before he passed in November 2012. As if that was not enough, in 2011, Bukola took over Gbemi’s seat in the Senate thus leaving her in a political wilderness.
She would defect to the APC on the eve of the 2015 elections. The political struggle might have shifted to their social life. When Bukola hosted the cream of Nigeria’s business and political elites at the ‘introduction’ ceremony of his daughter in 2018, Gbemisola was conspicuously absent. No excuses except enduring bad blood could have enforced her absence.
Now, the elder brother has returned to the PDP on which platform he seeks a return to the Senate while Gbemi remains with the APC, which has further fanned the embers of a simmering political rivalry within the Saraki family.
Soon after Bukola’s return to the PDP and fallout with President Muhammadu Buhari, Gbemi, in a Facebook post, reaffirmed her support for Buhari’s reelection and the APC.
“I maintain my unwavering support for President Muhammadu Buhari, now and for his re-election in 2019, and for the success of our party, the APC, in Kwara State and across the federation. All members of my political organisations including GRS Movement (GRSM); GRS Foundation (GRSF); GRS Friends on Facebook (GRSFOF), Paramount Women Forum (PWF) and GRS Grassroots Youth Movements (GRS-GYM) will begin to implement the first phase of our ‘Get-Out-The-Vote’ for PMB and APC. Politics is a public service to the people and we ought to conduct it with dignity, peace and love for our fellow citizens,” she wrote.