An X-Ray of The Man Bukola Saraki

By Oyewale Oyelola

His Background

Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki was born to the family of famous Olusola Saraki dynasty of Ilorin,  Kwara state,  over five decades ago.  Bukola Saraki was trained in United States of America as Medical Doctor like his late father.

During his stay abroad,  Bukola Saraki never lost  touch with African cultures and remained a devoted Muslim to the delight his people in the emirate town of Ilorin.

The heir of  the Saraki political dynasty of Kwara state  married  Toyin about two decades and the union has been blessed with wonderful children. Some political associates of the former governor of Kwara state described him as a cool, calm, intelligent, focused  and purpose-driven leader.

His Political Journey

Saraki began his political journey in Nigeria during the first tenure of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

He was appointed as Special Assistant to President Obasanjo to compensate his father for the support he rendered to PDP, then the ruling party,  as against the then All Nigerians Peoples Party ( ANPP), he then joined People’s Democratic Party ( PDP ) at the Federal level.

It’s worthy of note that the younger Saraki who was in his early 30s performed excellently in the government with his innovative ideas.

In 2003, he emerged as PDP governorship candidate for Kwara state in the general elections. Dr Bukola Saraki defeated incumbent governor of the State of Harmony, the late Governor Lawal of ANPP. He therefore became the youngest governor in Nigeria.

Bukola Saraki was re-elected as governor in 2007 due to his outstanding performance in first-four years in Government House.

Many Kwarans believe Saraki fondly called leader by his admirers is the architect of modern Kwara’s  development.

Remarkable projects of his administration in Kwara state includes  building and equipment of ultra modern General Hospital in Ilorin, establishment of Ilorin International Aviation School, Kwara state University, construction of Metropolitan Stadium, construction of flyover bridge in post office area to reduce traffic congestion in the state capital.

Kwara state monthly internally generated revenue has increased due to rebranding of Kwara Holding Limited and sectors thereby generating more resources for development of the state.

The APC leader in the state of harmony has  learned  political lessons  from his father who served as Senate leader in 1979.

In the build to the 2011 general elections,  the younger Saraki resisted the move by his father to install Gbemisola Saraki as governor.

Bukola Saraki who opined that the governorship position should be zoned to Kwara South senatorial district after 12 years rule by Kwara Central Senatorial district.

This action led to exit of Olusola Saraki popularly called Oloye by his followers from PDP and joined ACPN to actualize his dream of making her daughter-Gbemi to succeed his brother as governor.

Senator Bukola Saraki, inspite of all odds during 2011 electioneering campaign,  refused to attack his father’s personality as he called all is followers  not to intervene in the clash, saying that it was a family issue, that will be resolved within. He was busy selling PDP governorship candidate Abdulfatah Ahmed to the electorate.

His effort yielded  good result as the PDP governorship candidate defeated Gbemisola and Dele Belgore of defunct Action Congress of Nigeria in the election.

The current Chairman senate committee on Ecology Matters swiftly reconciled  with his father,  stating his actions in 2011 was for betterment of Kwara state at large. His action has endeared him to Kwarans,  therefore it is apt to say Bukola Saraki’s opinion is law in the state of harmony.

Saraki under the tutelage of his late father had learned to speak the language of the masses by meeting their needs.  His philanthropic gesture has positioned him to be political leader of repute in state of harmony.

Fallout With President Jonathan and PDP

Former Governor Bukola Saraki during his second term tenure served as Chairman, Nigerian Governors Forum.  Saraki without doubt is an  important figure in national politics. He was instrumental to the alleged one term pact signed by PDP governors in pre-PDP primary election in 2010.

He did not allow his aspiration to be President of Federal Republic of Nigeria at that time affect his sense of judgement as NGF leader.

The Ilorin born politician however fell out with President Goodluck Jonathan few years into his rule. It was alleged that Jonathan instigated the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) against Saraki to probe the mismanagement of Societe Generale Bank.

President Goodluck Jonathan,  according to political analysts,  feels Saraki is not loyal to him by using his influence in NGF under the leadership of Rivers state Governor Rotimi Ameachi  to undermine his administration.

The Turaki of Ilorin’s  displeasure with Jonathan and PDP leadership led to formation of a new PDP on 31st August 2013 with other aggrieved ruling party stalwarts such as  former Vice president,  Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, G-7 governors, former PDP Chairman,  Kawu Baraje and others.

The failure of President Jonathan and PDP to address their grievances prompted new PDP members alongside Kwara, Sokoto, Rivers, Adamawa and Kano state governors to merge with newly registered All Progressives Congress in December 2013.

Apparently to affirm his loyalty to Senator Bukola Saraki,  Kwara state governor, Abdulfatai Ahmed while receiving APC delegation before their defection to the opposition party said only Saraki can decide his movement to any political party.

Romance With APC

Senator Bukola Saraki while addressing his followers and APC leaders after his defection to the party vowed to deliver all elective position in 2015 general elections to his new party.

He moved to APC with the governor of kwara state,  Senator Lafiagi representing Kwara North,  six house of Representatives members from the state, 24 out 26 state house of assembly members and 16 local government chairmen.

He therefore announced the death of Peoples Democratic Party in Kwara State.

The cool headed Senator battled  with Senate President, David Mark who frustrated the  attempt by 22 PDP Senators to join the  opposition party.

He contributed his financial resources,  time and other logistics to ensure victory of the party during just concluded presidential election.

The former governor attended almost all presidential campaigns of General Muhammadu Buhari in  the country and abroad. He was the first to respond to Governor Fayose’s allegation that Buhari travelled  to  the United kingdom for medical  treatment.

Against all odds and PDP intimidation, the vibrant political icon delivered all elective positions including presidential election to All Progressives Congress.

Why he should be next Senate President

The eighth Senate would comprise APC and PDP,  judging from National Assembly election results. APC has majority in the red chamber with 60 out of  109 senators.

It is logical to say the party would produce next Senate President and other key officials.

With the present composition, APC has one senator from South East and South South zones. The President-elect is from North West and his Vice president Osinbajo hails from South West. Therefore, third position in the country would come from North central or North East.

According to Senate rule, principal officers of the house must be returning Senators. Without mincing words, Senator Bukola Saraki is fit and capable to be the next Senate President.

Aside that Saraki is mature minded as he often put  national interest first.

He acted maturely during the screening of outgoing minister of national planning who hails from Kwara but from PDP.  Saraki gladly recommended  his confirmation by the  Senate as Minister.

It’s also on record that Saraki did not disrupt sitting after David Mark deliberately frustrated the move of 22 senators to join APC on the floor of Senate.

The man Bukola Saraki is also slow to  anger, a trait  which would be useful in managing calibre of people in the next Senate.

More so, the party can also mobilise support for a committed and trustworthy member who put his political career and family’s relevance on the line by joining other progressives to flush out PDP in Federal level.

This article was first published in June 2015


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