The political and marital legacy of the fallen Second Republic Senate leader, Senator Olusola Saraki continues to draw commendation from near and wide, including the very chamber from where he started his legacy.
Senator Olusola Saraki’s score in contemporary Nigerian politics is unprecedented. No Nigerian senator living or dead fathered two senators. But Senator Olusola Saraki who died last week was, however, not the usual run of the mill politician.
It is as such not surprising that his death has provoked an unprecedented outpouring of commendations on the legacy of the Illorin born politician.
Nigerians from all walks of life, poor and rich have been trooping to Illorin to pay their condolence to the family of the fallen politician, among whom are his children, Senators Gbemi Saraki and Bukola Saraki.
It was reflective of his political stature that in death Saraki brought together three of the country’s former Heads of State who in normal times would not walk the same path.
It was perhaps a coincidence when Generals Muhammadu Buhari, Ibrahim Babangida and Abdusalami Abubakar converged at the palace of the Emir of Illorin during a condolence visit.
Even more remarkable was the touching lesson Gen. Babangida showed at the occasion when he refused to speak in deference to General Buhari, his one time Commander-in-Chief.
“In military, we have our tradition of doing things. Gen. Buhari is our leader and he is the one to speak on our behalf,” Babangida said when he was given the microphone to speak.
Before his visit Gen. Babangida, himself, arguably one of Nigeria’s leading political players in and out of uniform, had in a statement following the death of the deceased politician said that the late Saraki gave him political notes.
It was a touching confession from one of the country’s leading political craftsmen.
In the senate where the late Olusola made his name as Senate Leader between 1979 and 1983, the chamber has equally been overflowing in its tributes to the eldest of the Saraki senators.
The body in its sitting last Tuesday adopted a resolution urging the executive to name the Ilorin International Airport after the late Saraki. That is besides a 12 man delegation that is to visit the family of the deceased politician.
Senate Leader, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba moved the motion to honour the first of the Saraki senators. Observing that the late Saraki lived a remarkable life, Ndoma-Egba noted that “his charismatic personality till date defined the office of Senate Leader and gave it character, many years after he left the office as he remains easily the best and most known Senate Leader.”
However, the decisive amendment to rename the Illorin airport after Saraki was moved by Senator Smart Adeyemi who identified himself as one of the political disciples of Senator Saraki.
Adeyemi who noted that Saraki’s political legacy transcended Kwara State, said, “He contributed immensely to the development of Kogi and Kwara States. He was passionate about the welfare of the people and they reciprocated because they believed he would champion their cause.
‘’I am proud to say am one of the political associates of the late Saraki. He was not a religious bigot. His politics cuts across.”
Senator Chris Anyanwu who monitored the late Saraki closely during her stint as the NTA Senate correspondent in the second republic described Saraki as a “successful politician by all standards. Despite his educational background, he came down to the level of the common man.”
In a statement following Saraki’s death, Anyanwu had said:
“Watching him from the Senate gallery in the Second Republic, I saw that several times when Nigeria could have been plunged into a crisis, he had a way with people. He was not hard but had a gentle way of persuading his colleagues to his point of view and pulling Nigeria back from the brink.
“At that time, he was a calming influence in the Senate. He was also, a people’s man; he carried his people with him. Wherever he went, his people followed him. They followed him, not because he hoodwinked them, but because they genuinely lived him and he, in turn, groomed his people.”
In his own contribution,
Senator Olusola Adeyeye, ACN, Osun Central noted that while he did not agree with the politics of the late Senator Saraki, he, however, found it easy to respect him, noting that Saraki made the saying true that there were good people in every party. Perhaps, also including the PDP he almost would have said.
He added that Saraki’s marriage to a Christian woman despite his devoted Islamic background exemplified a life that portrayed that Christians and Muslims can live together harmoniously.
Among other senators who spoke during the senate debate on the motion were Senators James Manager, Ganiyu Solomon and Abdul Ningi.
It was thus interesting that the President of the Senate, Senator David Mark would sum up the contributions thus:
“It only shows what will happen if you live a good life, live for the ordinary people and you die well. Saraki has lived and died and he is gone but there are lessons to be learnt from his life and I think that that is important.”