Saraki: O-To-Ge! By SOC Okenwa



The presidential and parliamentary polls of Saturday 23rd of February this year had come and gone controversially but the political repercussions are still here with us. The Independent(?) National Electoral Commission (INEC) had conducted the general elections generally with determination — given the huge logistical and organisational challenges yet everyone were not satisfied with the outcome. While the ruling party big men and women were obscenely celebrating their triumphant political conquest or re-conquest (especially at the presidential level) the opposition PDP are still nursing grudgingly their ‘defeat’ at the polls. The victor had not shown enough magnanimity in victory and the vanquished had refused to dance to the traditional tune.

As the entire nation awaits the eventual judicial pronouncement vindicating the incumbent President’s re-election or the opposition’s position– ‘Atikulated’ having mounted a robust legal challenge to the INEC-declared result giving stunning victory to the Daura-born ‘Aso-Rocker’. Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, thus far, has refused to heed the mounting calls from different quarters (some sponsored) for him to concede defeat. He believes doing so would not be in the general interest of our nascent democracy hence the need to do the judicial needful and the rest would be history thereafter.

The embattled Senate President, Bukola Saraki, was the Director-General of the Atiku National Campaign Council. Months prior to the general elections Saraki, ever so controversial a politician of fortune, had quit the APC ruling party for the opposition PDP. He left with some notable politicians including the Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal and the Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara.

By that deft political move fraught with uncertainties Saraki had drawn the ire of the Adams Oshiomhole-led APC. And a bitter political ‘war’ was thus declared! As reason for his decamping Saraki had complained of the incompetence and nepotism of Buharism arguing that his continued membership of the party in power at the apex would negate his political principles.

As soon as Saraki decamped to the opposition camp (from where he had gone to the then opposition APC way back in 2015 anyway) the ruling party elements had sought vengefully to ‘liquidate’ him politically by plotting initially to impeach him as the Senate President. Saraki, ever so wily, resisted vehemently the move and despite repeated threats of impeachment he survived since the APC, despite the noise, could not muster the required number to effect his legislative ouster.

Another strategy was devised by the ruling party to humiliate Saraki politically at the home front. Championed by the voluble Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, a fellow executive Kwaran, a well-oiled campaign (O-To-Ge) was put in place to demystify the ‘godfather’ of Kwara politics. And the strategy had paid off! During the general elections of February 23 Saraki was soundly beaten in his senatorial zone by the little-known APC candidate Dr. Ibrahim Oloriegbe! With that definitive senatorial trouncing Saraki would not be returning to the upper legislative chambers in June after the expiration of his present parliamentary mandate. The APC was jubilating over the Saraki fall! Minister Mohammed even delightfully likened it to the Berlin Wall falling in Kwara politics!

Today the Saraki senatorial and even gubernatorial dynasty could be said to have suffered a nasty demystification. With Gbemisola Saraki calling, prior to the guber polls in the state, for the APC to take over the government in Kwara state the stage appeared set for Saraki to suffer a major political setback. He may bounce back but not anytime soon. The people of his state are now wiser and more informed than before.

A mercurial figure with ruthless political ambition Saraki’s stupendous wealth has often been attributed to a systematic corrupt past and present. But despite his controversial divisive pedigree Bukola Saraki remains an enigma, a colourful charismatic political animal who knows what he wants in politics Nigeriana and how to get same by hook or by crook. Love him or loathe him he has used crude and rude tactics and methods to reach the zenith of his political career as the number three man in the national power hierarchy.

Kwara State has, for decades, been under the vicious econo-political grip of the Saraki dynasty. From the old generational late ‘Oloye’, Olusola Saraki, to the new generational Bukola Saraki it has been a political adventure, cum dominion, worth saluting for its staying power and fortitude. Between the Saraki father and son there seemed to be a satanic determination to dominate the political space in Ilorin without compromise. Yet, at a time in his lifetime Oloye saw his son defy him by ‘retiring’ him as the indisputable godfather of Kwara politics. Father and son had fought dirty as vested political interests divided them beyond reconciliation.

Saraki Junior succeeded in imposing his will on Kwarans by anointing the present Governor Abdulfattah Ahmed against his late father’s preferred choice. Olusola had desperately wanted Gbemi Saraki to succeed Bukola as Governor after eight years of the latter but they acrimoniously disagreed leading to a test of will. Though Bukola prevailed the political environment in Kwara took a hit by that singular open rift involving glorified thieves from the same house and family. 

All his adult life Bukola has been pampered and favoured. When you tell him about poverty he may not know from which lense he could view such description having never experienced it all his life. Having been born with a silver spoon in his mouth Saraki had quality education abroad. And he must have learnt one or two things from the late Oloye, a professional politician whose history was replete with all manners of positivism and negativism in equal measure.

Bukola Saraki’s emergence as the Senate President was riddled with controversy enduring till this day. He outmanouvered the APC apparatchicks who had preferred another candidate other than him for the top legislative job. As a political manipulator, nay swindler, Bukola colluded or better still, connived with the opposition PDP members to be able to be ‘coronated’ as their leader! And that left the APC livid. All attempts since then to bring him down had failed woefully. He had consolidated power by romancing with the opposition among whom he now counts as a prominent member.

By decamping from the ruling party to the opposition (as a professional carpet-crosser) Saraki had hoped that what happened in 2015 during the Jonathanian era would have repeated itself — when they left the then ruling PDP party for the then opposition APC. It paid dividends then but now it has backfired. The political sacrifice and investment this time had been a waste of efforts and resources.

Days after the official INEC announcement of his downfall Saraki was seen in a video online looking emaciated and low-spirited. During the Atiku press conference featuring rejection of the presidential poll outcome Saraki looked pale, absent-minded and pensive. He was a pitiful sight to behold as he ruminated over what would have been had he not taken the PDP plunge. Cogitating over life post-June this year upon the inauguration of the new Senate sans Saraki could be a source of nightmare if not insomnia!

The Senate President took his legislative shellacking with apparent equanimity. As the result trickled in in Ilorin he made to leave the Kwara state capital in a jiffy sensing defeat but his convoy was reportedly pelted with stones and bottles by those same folks he had oppressed, impoverished and marginalised for more than a decade now. Now all that could change with the successful O-To-Ge campaign.

We join thousands of oppressed Kwarans to chant happily: Saraki: O-To-Ge! Yes, O-To-Ge Saraki!! Enough is indeed enough!!!

SOC Okenwa
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