By Bashir Adefaka
That the titan of Second Republic politics, Senator Abubakar Olusola Saraki, died is no longer news; neither was that of former Governor of Oyo State, Alhaji Lamidi Onaolapo Adesina, who died four days before. What is news is the emerging pointer to the fact that both chose Lagos as their last city of visit before making their final exit to the world beyond.
Saraki, though born in Ilorin to a father of Fulani extraction and an Iseyin Oyo State mother, as a boy was taken to Lagos where he grew up and when death came calling, fate also played its part as he was taken in illness to the same Lagos where he died Wednesday at the age of 79. Incidentally, the man who did not only rule Oyo State for four years but also was a secondary school teacher to the incumbent Governor Abiola Ajimobi, Alhaji Lam Adesina, had earlier had to choose Lagos as his last city of visit before taking final bow: for medical reason it could be said.
Both political titans, Muslims, are now already gone and buried according to Islamic rites. What is left behind is talk about how they played their political ball when it came to each of their courts. Many have related the extent of discipline Alhaji Lam Adesina displayed when he was governor of Oyo State. He was not only chief executive of the state but also chief security, chief teacher, chief of the chief accountants and all that need carry chief as prefix.
In his farewell tribute, former Governor of Anambra State, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife, said, “Alhaji Adesina was social secretary of our Assembly Progressive Club (in the 1998-89 Constituent Assembly). He was so totally reliable, so completely honest and responsible and so meek, that I called him ‘the lamb of God’. I believe Oyo people cannot trace any missing kobo of their money, if any, to his hands. I am also sure that he must have served Oyo, as Governor, with total devotion. Dear friend and fellow true progressive, fare well!”
Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State had, on Monday, during a condolence visit accompanied by members of the State Executive Council to the family of the late former Governor Lam Adesina, pledged to continue to celebrate, honour and sustain the legacy left behind by the elder statesman. At the Felele, Ibadan residence of the late former governor, Goveror Ajimobi noted that Alhaji Adesina had been his benefactor since 1964 and that whatever achievement he had recorded in life so far had the contributions of the late ACN leader.
“He always said that what gladdens his heart is that he has political son in me (governor). Whatever anybody may say, I am the foremost political son of Alhaji Lam Adesina. Talking about Godliness, the former governor lived it and acted it. He was always praying and fasting. I used to call Alhaji Adesina my three-in-one. He was my teacher, my uncle and my political mentor. Whatever I am today in politics, he made me,” Ajimobi said.
About Saraki, the Garkuwan Fika, Ezeife, described him as a gentleman politician and friend. “He was one of the strongest Nigerians in commerce, politics, religion and social leadership. Olusola Saraki was one of those who turbaned me in Fika Emirate as Garkuwan Fika in 2001 and we had enjoyed good relationship such that he was chairman during the wedding of one of my daughters. I respect him very highly. May his soul rest in peace,” Ezeife said just as former Minister of Communications and cousin of Saraki’s childhood friend, G. K. Animasaun, General Tajudeen Olanrewaju and former Press Secretary to the Head of State General Olusegun Obasanjo and the Uthoko Na Eze Achalla, Igwe Ezeoba Alex Nwokedi described the fallen political titan as an enigma.
General Tajudeen Olanrewaju who eulogized the political titan describing him as great in death, said, “He was one of those titans of the Second Republic political class. During that period, he was the bridge between the North and South political elites and he was very noted for his political contributions at the National Assembly. He left a legacy of generosity and genuine love for his people. He lived a life of good contentment and from all indications he kept his line of friendship with his contemporaries he grew up with in Lagos in spite of his busy schedule as an active politician. May his soul rest in peace,” Olanrewaju said.
Igwe Nwokedi said, “Olusola Saraki who hailed from Ilorin once ran an airline and had invested a lot in the country. He also helped to promote medical association and employed young medical officers at a time there were no jobs. And he had a very good memory, although in politics he had his own objectives, nevertheless he meant well for the country. May his soul rest in peace,” Igwe Nwokedi said.
And Governor Ajimobi described the passing away of the Second Republic Senate Majority Leader, Dr. Abubakar Olusola Saraki as a colossal loss, not only to the people of Kwara but also to the entire country.
The governor, in a statement issued in Ibadan on Wednesday by his Special Adviser on Media, Dr. Festus Adedayo, said that the news of the death of the `Strongman of Kwara Politics’ came to him as a rude shock, describing it as very unfortunate. “Dr. Saraki was a shining example of humility and philanthropy, as he shared virtually everything he had with the needy, irrespective of where they came from. Even though he never held any political office since 1983 when he left the Senate, he had endeared himself to the hearts of the Kwarans, thus becoming a rallying point in the politics of the state. Dr. Saraki left an indelible imprint in the sands of time. The vacuum created by his death will surely be difficult to fill,’’ the governor remarked.