Still on Saraki’s Dynasty in Kwara Politics
By Shittu Yunus Shittu
A lot has been said about the recent political tsunami that ended the 40 years long political domination by the Saraki dynasty in Kwara State.
However, just like other major successful freedom and liberation movements around the world, the ‘Otoge’ (meaning Enough is Enough) movement will forever be remembered in the history of Kwara politics as it crumbled a dynasty that maintained total influence over the political affairs of Kwara for so long.
The origin of Saraki dynasty can be traced to 1979, when Dr. Olushola Saraki, the ‘Oloye’ himself entered Senate and subsequently elected the Senate Leader.
In the course of the dynasty, six Kwara state governors emerged. The list consists of Adamu Attah, C.O. Adebayo, Sha’aba Lafiagi, Muhammed Lawal, Bukola Saraki and Abdulfatai Ahmed.
Even as the dynasty lasted, the current Senate President, Bukola Saraki saw to the loss of his sibling Gbemisola Saraki as gubernatorial aspirant, after she served for 12 years in the National Assembly as a Representative and then a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Bukola saw to the enthronement of Fatai Ahmed as governor from 2011-till date under his close supervision.
It is rather unfortunate that Bukola Saraki’s inordinate lust for political power coupled with jettisoning the wishes of the people which he claimed to represent, all directly and indirectly culminated to the fall of the dynasty.
The arguments that Bukola Saraki has nothing to display as achievements throughout his tenure as the governor of the State as well as Senator can only be tagged as baseless going by the facts on the ground.
While there are concrete reasons and genuine concerns that triggered the overwhelming defeat of Saraki’s dynasty in the last elections, we should nevertheless be cautious not to rubbish Bukola’s efforts and other contributions, especially in Kwara State.
Only those that suffer memory loss can claim ignorance of some positive developments in the state.
By the way, was it not Bukola Saraki that established the Kwara State State University (KWASU), the International Aviation College and facilitated the constructions of series of Housing Estates at Mandate, Harmony Estate, Irewolede Phase II and Mandate Estate Omun-Aran?
It is to the credit of Bukola Saraki the construction of Ganmo power generation plant, Community health insurance Scheme, Kwara Safe Maternity Service Scheme, Rehabilitation of Ilorin Airport to international standard and the commissioning of state-of-the-art Kwara Advanced Ultramodern Diagnosis Centre.
Some of his initiatives have contributed in boosting the State’s internally generated revenue(IGR) since Kwara was among the lowest recipients from the Federation Account.
Meanwhile, the road from Kwara Police Command A Division to Offa Garage and many other roads were made dual carriage ways and rehabilitated during his first tenure while that of Offa Garage was extended to Ganmo town at the tail end of his second tenure.
What about the Voluntary Teaching Services in which thousands of Kwara graduates were engaged and given stipends monthly before more than ninety percent of them were absorbed into the state Civil Service, Teaching Service and SUBEB respectively?
We should not also forget that Saraki was behind the establishment of Kwara Football Academy (KFA), the Kwara Stadium Modernisation, Expansion and Internationalization and the Kwara Clean and Green Programme which positioned Kwara as the cleanest State in the country?
His reign saw the renovation of Ilorin Ultramodern Central Mosque and through huge contributions from his friends, associates as other fund raisers in 2010. The list is endless.
And for those who will argue that Bukola Saraki has not been beneficial to people of the States in terms of Federal appointments, what about the juicy federal political appointments he facilitated as the Chairman of Nigeria Governors’ Forum for many Kwarans like Prof. Oba Abdulraheem, Dr. Yomi Ogunsola, Bio Ibrahim, Nimota Akanbi and many others?
He was one of the few governors who had youthful cabinet with young men in their 30s in leadership position in the state. Bolaji Abdullahi, Abdulfatah Ahmed, Zakari Mohammed among others were appointed Commissioners in their youthful ages.
It is undeniable the fact that Kwara State under Governor AbdulFatah Ahmed faced a lot of challenges due to a dwindled economic fortune and non-regular payment of staff salaries which resulted in many protests and demonstrations by the citizens.
The last elections were indeed the pay-back time as the electorate massively voted out, not only the state government but all public offices held by members of the Saraki’s People Democratic Party (PDP).
The long-awaited liberation from the so-called politicaL dynasty has come. Kwarans now expect the change agents to stick to their promises and be accountable. There should be no-excuses, blame-games or adoption of popular lame excuses of “there was no money in the State’s coffers ,” “we can’t repair a damage of 40 years in 4 years” and so on.
Governor-elect AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq has promised not to fail thev electorate while Senator-elect, Dr Ibrahim Oloriegbe has also promised to outshine Bukola Saraki’s achievements in 4 years.
The incoming administration and the elected representatives must prove their competence and ability to deliver as promised during their campaign. The electorates expect nothing but progress in the next 4 years from new political gladiators to deliver. These include but not limited to ensuring regular payments of salaries, scholarships, providing infrastructural developments, youth inclusion in governance and social welfare for the citizens. Anything less than these will turn the table against them in 2023 elections.
Shittu Yunus Shittu writes from Abuja, and can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org