His Excellency the outgoing Senate President, President of the 8th Senate of Nigeria, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki is no doubt the most popular Nigerian politician in recent times, most mentioned in the news daily and to some, the most controversial. A young man who inherited and rode on the threshold of his father’s pedigree and political dynasty in Kwara served as the first two-term Governor of Kwara State. Saraki also successfully installed a successor and ensured that he too served for two terms, about ending his tenure. Painful, Saraki inherited his fathers’ age-long enemies along with the inherited wealth and dynasty, a shoe too big for his legs but which providence and his maker had been seeing him through.
Throughout his eight years as Governor of Kwara State, I neither saw anything good about his administration nor did I write in his favour. I was hell-bent on writing his negatives. The death of Rear Admiral Mohammed Lawal, former governor of Kwara State and the several misconceptions that I had about the situation made me hate anything and everything about the Saraki family, though I had soft spot for Rukayat Gbemisola Saraki. I wrote so much against his such that his Chief Press Secretary fought me and declared me personal non-grata in the government house, yet I give no damn. However, as an open mind, ever willing to learn, I later discovered that the food from inside a black pot that stains the hand does not stain the stomach, I began to see reasons not to hate Bukola Saraki.
My first attraction to him was the fact that I so much cherish Toyin Okora – Saraki and I said to myself, being hateful against the husband and loving the wife is hypocritical so for her sake, I stopped attacking Bukola Saraki. Afterward, I began to notice some of his special attributes and uncommon traits, so I began to listen when he speaks and drew closer. I noticed his level of intelligence, his openness, which are not like what other politicians possess. In my own opinion, I score Bukola Saraki zero in politics while I score his father 100%. A look on the face of Bukola Saraki will tell you whether he likes you or not, he is not a diplomatic personality. He is a dogged fighter, stubborn as was often said about him but also very reasonable, considerate and with a listening ear. I heard in several quarters that he is very arrogant, some said he doesn’t mix and I try to understand it all, that an eagle will naturally be seen to be arrogant because he soars higher than other birds and his level of intelligence surpasses that of his peers so accusing him of being arrogant is normal but based on level of understanding and perception of the person of the accused.
Writing about his background will be a mere tautology but it will not be out of place to state that since childhood, as I gathered, Bukola Saraki passed through the furnace of life and he is not among those whom anyone will predict as can reach any pinnacle in life. By reason of luck, divine intervention and what I will attribute to destiny, he rose to become number three man in Nigeria, Senate President, You may not like what you are reading but you will also agree with me that mere wishes, stubbornness, and nothing can bring a man to a height that he is not destined to reach. I don’t know about his upbringing but a slight trace of it is of someone who does not succumb to undue pressures, he will rather die than succumb but he lives on.
Bukola Saraki reads, no wonder, readers are leaders and aside from that, he has a way of getting like minds close to his side especially when he notices your loyalty, but as soon as he sees that you don’t deserve a place around him, he throws you out before you betray his vision. Like every normal human being, we are bound to make some mistakes in mingling with pretenders, disloyal elements that play eye service but stab from the back. These are a bunch that has inordinate ambitions and tend to seek a place around him, a place f relevance only to fall out when their mission seems threatened.
Bukola Saraki became a parallel President under the Presidency of Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’adua when he emerged as Chairman Governor’s forum and wielded many powers. It is on record that he was Yar’adua’s right-hand man and would have become his successor if not for the President’s untimely demise. He rode on his father back but jumped off into national relevance and found a place among the elite, managing himself and weathering the storms. After his tenure as governor, he found his way to the Senate and was not a bench warmer Senator, he held valuable positions and made his mark.
He and his followers were lured into the All Progressives Congress party, APC after discussions and negotiation. He berthed long with his soldiers and associates, with Rotimi Amaechi very handy and supportive. The duo of Bukola Saraki, Amaechi and others from his side made the victory of Muhamadu Buhari very easy and historical, beating an incumbent President. Bukola Saraki, now a member of APC from his PDP party started mingling with a people who can not be trusted for anything. I remember that long before the elections, Bukola Saraki told us the press in his home base about his ambition to become Senate President but he added a clause ‘just for your ears’ means, not a news item. When he started the struggle, Saraki reached out underground to relevant stakeholders, planning his vision and working his talk. A pragmatic leader and strategic planner, he saw it ahead planned all the evils of godfathers against him ahead but he was several steps ahead of them to have emerged the President of the 8th Senate of Nigeria.
The question that keeps bothering my mind is that if APC were a group of intelligent politicians, why a party that produced the Senate President should also be the one seeking to bring him down just because they want to satisfy the interest of one or few individuals in the party. Ahmed Tinubu produced the President, Muhamadu Buhari, produced Professor Yemi Osinbajo, Vice President, produced the Secretary to the Federal Government, SGF, wants to produce the Senate President and also the Speaker of the House of Representatives. If I may ask, what other position in that hierarchy is left that would not have been under Tinubu? But God in his love for Nigeria backed and used Dr Bukola Saraki as the speed breaker having a dependable ally in Yakub Dogara as they wrestle the National Assembly away from the jagaban and his cohorts. If Mr President, would be sincere to himself, he would have lived up to his words by working with who emerged as President of Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives but rather than do that, he chose a fight with his own party men. Saraki was not PDP, Dogara was not APC, they were party mates for heaven’s sake! Some said that Saraki breached party supremacy rules, but what else does the party want other than the victory that brought them to power and to start the national assignment? It is disheartening that most Nigerian politicians do not know when campaigns end and when governance should commence. For four years, instead of facing governance, the Buhari led APC started chasing shadows and still does.
I must give kudos to Senator Bukola Saraki for bringing a new lease of life into legislation in that he closed the gap between partisan enmity and served as a bridge between the parties. For an APC Senate President to enjoy the cooperation of PDP lawmakers is a commendable work. Saraki brought maturity into the play of politics at least in the national assembly because in the real sense of it, politics is not war and so bitterness must never be encouraged like our lagos politicians is doing.
In the news, it is laughable that APC, not have learned from their past mistakes are already fighting over what Saraki fought. Those who blamed Saraki for not listening to the dictates of his party are now challenging the right of the party to impose leadership on the national assembly. It still boils down to a party without the experience of managing success, if not do we have to be told that the national assembly is a separate arm of government that must be allowed to function as its own entity without much external influence, else it may affect their performance. Is APC trying to create a rubber stamp legislature that will just dance to the tune of the President, right or wrong? This was how APC leadership shot themselves on the leg during the Presidency of Saraki at the national assembly, they are starting again, the smoke that exposes fire is oozing out gradually and we shall soon see how PDP might emerge the leadership of the National assembly as some APC senators will vote in protest to spite their party and damn the consequence. Whenever men with vision meet with men with a mission, a clash is inevitable because men of vision are the Patriots seeking the opportunity to serve fatherland while missionary politicians are seeking the opportunity to expand their territories, get more popular as the most popular politician in Nigeria. Thank God for Bukola Saraki, we shall soon see what he fought for to protect and what Nigeria would have lost or suffered if Tinubu actually had his way, securing the Senate Presidency seat and the Speaker House of Representative.
I heard some people making a mockery of Saraki and some journalists write about his woeful fall, quite unfortunate. I never said that Bukola Saraki is a saint but I will say it as I never failed to repeat that the people of Ilorin made some miscalculations by aligning with their foes to bring down their own in a selfish display of enmity, undue Sentiments, and unwarranted hatred. Some said that Saraki did not perform as expected, but they also forgot how many battles he fought and won, the sleepless nights of the threat to his life, his office, and even his political career and structure. It is saddening that his kinsmen, who had age-long hatred for late Olusola Saraki came out to vent their anger on his son. The left wing politicians used all manner of antiques to hijack power from Saraki using his own very people. In no long time from now, the truth shall emerge and a new dawn will arise again.
To some pessimists, it is over for Saraki in politics, I call it wishful thinking. The Eagle molts and comes out to soar higher and stronger. He must have learned his lessons, returned to the drawing board and discover betraying friend, most of whom will decamp to the ruling party to secure their daily bread and display their political shamelessness. Time heals wounds, Saraki would be out again and Nigerians would realize that he is a prophet that ought to be praised by his people but betrayed by the same people. Thank God, he is still young, he cannot be the best president Nigeria never had. Let’s keep fingers crossed till its another dawn for Saraki in both local and national politics. To those who seek his fall to rise, a candid warning, ‘whoever destroys others in order to succeed meets destruction at the coast of success.’ Power is transient, Saraki cannot remain relevant forever but ending his term in politics in a manner that seeks his fall at all cost is a wrong signal that enemies are behind the door to take over the house after the bad boy who secured the house is dealt with. Once again, we keep fingers crossed.
God bless Nigeria.
Oluseyi Dasilva is a Journalist