Monday, May 12, 2003

Dr. Olusola Saraki: A kingmaker at 70

"No amount of water can wash out the balm of an anointed leader" –Richard ii

Saturday, 17th May, 2003 will be a significant milestone in the history of Dr. Abubakar Olusola Saraki, Turakin Ilorin, an illustrious son of Nigeria, eminent philanthropist, respected surgeon, selfless person, distinguished Nigerian politician and a very magnanimous and humane person. The day marks his seventieth birthday.

Dr. Sola Saraki was born on the 17th of May, 1933 at Ilorin, the Kwara State Capital. He was educated at Eko Boys High School. He obtained his School Certificates with beautiful results. Having come from a very humble family, Saraki was encouraged to realise his ambition of becoming a Medical Doctor. He attended Chatham College of Technology, England, University of London, Licentiate Royal College of Physicians and St. George’s Hospital Medical School, London.

Saraki is a highly experienced Medical Doctor having practiced for many years. He served as Medical Officer, General Hospital, Lagos and later Medical Officer, Creek Hospital, Lagos.

From the world of Medicine and Surgery, Saraki ventured into the difficult world of politics in 1959. In 1977, he was elected as a member of the Constituent Assembly that produced the 1979 constitution.

With the advent of democratic civil rule in 1979, Dr. Olusola Saraki was overwhelmingly elected a Senator of that Federal Republic. His election marked the beginning of his greatness in Nigeria’s politics.

Saraki’s place in the Senate of that time was a special one. He enjoyed tremendous good will and was elected Senate Leader. He was a strong force in the direction of the Senate, his contributions to the quality of debate in the Senate at that time were widely acknowledged.

It was not a surprise that within four years of service at the Senate, Saraki had established himself as a towering figure of consequential influence. A very simple, humble and unassuming politician. Saraki struck the hearts of the people with his hospitality and kindness. In 1983 Saraki was re-elected into the Senate. This time his political empire had expanded. He did not only emerge victorious but ensured victory for others under the National Party of Nigeria (NPN).

Dr. Saraki is a completely selfless and detribalised Nigerian whose entire life is dedicated to the service of humanity. He loves education, with a passion and as a demonstration of this he built and funded several Schools. Saraki did not stop there. He awarded Scholarships not only to indigenes of Kwara and Kogi States but extended it to the children of the poor wherever they come from.

Soon, Saraki became the father of politics in Kwara and Kogi States throughout the second, third and fourth republics. Saraki established political machinery that is absolutely relevant, tested and unbeatable in Nigeria.

When the wind blew again heralding the advent of the fourth republic, Saraki identified with the All Peoples ‘Party (APP). He was a National Leader, financier of the party and a member of its Board of Trustees. He was a solid factor to the victory of APP in Kwara and Kogi States. He single’ handedly financed Mohammed Alabi Lawal to become the Governor of Kwara State.

Abubakar Olusola Saraki, the good father of Kwara and Kogi politics opted out of APP, a party he helped both in establishing and nurturing. He instructed his follower to join the rival party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Dr. Sola Saraki is one of the greatest Nigerians of all times. So great was Oloye that the history of politics in Nigeria cannot be complete without a chapter dedicated to Saraki, the Oloye and the kingmaker.

As he celebrate his 70th birthday, just twelve days to the swearing-in ceremony of his son, Dr. Bukola as the Executive Governor of Kwara State, I hereby join millions of his admirers and well wishers across the Country to pray that he live long. All his life he represented the interests and yearnings of the poor people. He is fair and just, simple but great, incredible but true, gentle but powerful. Oloye’s life was that of unfaulted-honesty, enviable courage and sincerity.

With the election of Dr. Bukola Saraki, his son as the Executive Governor of Kwara State and Hajiya Gbemi Saraki Fofora, his daughter as a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the people of Kwara State have clearly proved that Dr. Saraki is an anointed leader that deserved their honour, respect and trust. On a final note, as Oloye celebrates his 70th birthday, I call upon him to retire from active politics, because on the 1th of April, 2003, the people of Kwara State unanimously came out and voted his son, Dr. Bukola Saraki as the next Governor of Kwara, thereby replying the outgoing Governor, Mr. "NO SHAKING" that they have" served" the father (Saraki) and are fully ready to "Serve" the son (Bukola).

When the history of political kingmakers in Nigeria is written one day, no doubt, the name of Dr. Abubakar Olusola Saraki will stand were others will wavered. Dr. Saraki was fully equipped with political experiences that are as vast as the Atlantic Ocean and a courage as solid as the Gibralter rock.

Alhaji Abubakar Shehu, Director-General, Gwandu Emirate Dev. Ass., Birnin Kebbi, Kebbi State.