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Senator Saraki: Sly or survivor

By Emmanuel Aziken

Those who opposed Senator Bukola Saraki’s bid for the office of Senate President had rationalised their opposition on the premise that any man who could openly fight his father should be feared.

Saying that Bukola fought his father is an understatement; he demystified Oloye as his father was popularly known.

Oloye, had from the creation of Kwara State unilaterally determined all the civilian governors of the state until that epic confrontation with his son 2011.

Bukola Saraki

As he was wont, Oloye had prior to the 2011 General Election, ruled that his daughter, Gbemisola Saraki, should succeed Bukola, her brother as governor of Kwara State.

Bukola, however, protested that it would be unreasonable for his sister to succeed him. The majority of the political class in Kwara saw reason with him and thus Oloye was handed the first political defeat in Kwara.

While some hailed Bukola for his stance, critics, however, flayed him for not seeing anything wrong in also taking up his sister’s Senate seat.

Indeed the Saraki family has imprinted its image in the Senate in a way that no other family has done. Yes, we have had a husband and wife at different times in the Senate like Senator Bola Tinubu and Senator Remi Tinubu, Senator Chuba Okadigbo and Senator Magarey Okadigbo; but no one family has risen to prominence in the Senate as the Saraki family has done.

Senator Olusola Saraki served as Senate Leader between 1979 and 1983 and developed a reputation of being the most respected Senate Leader in a generation. Gbemi though not a principal officer was not a pushover in her eight years in the Senate. Her brother who took over her seat in 2011 has climbed above where father and sister stopped with his famous election as Senate President in June 2015.

Bukola has in his relatively short political span developed a knack for rocking the boat as first manifested with the uprising against his father.

Bukola would be counted on the positive side of history for his salutary role in exposing the infamous subsidy regime in the importation of petrol during the Jonathan administration. President Jonathan had allegedly rebuffed private observations made by Saraki on the issue before Saraki was compelled to bring it to the Senate floor.

Senator Bukola was in true fashion last Monday when he went against conventional wisdom and rebuked the military and Southeast governors for the unilateral proscription of the Independent People Of Biafra, IPOB. While not condoning the activities and intentions of IPOB, the Senate President had frowned at the irregular procedure taken on the issue.

It was not surprising that some critics irrespective of the constitutional points he made in his statement, laced Senator Saraki’s stance with political undertones.

The most vociferous attack came from Alhassan Doguwa, the Leader of the House of Representatives, who accused Saraki of political posturing.

“For me, the recent comment made by the Senate President on this matter was a mere political statement that would only portray him as a controversial leader,” Doguwa said in a widely publicised statement on Tuesday.

The attack from Doguwa was undoubtedly a carryover of the 2015 battle waged against Senator Saraki by the “party leadership” in the days leading to and after the National Assembly leadership election.

Doguwa was a staunch loyalist of the party leadership until he was made to see reason and with it the position of House Leader.

That the military and the administration subsequently heeded Saraki’s counsel by obtaining a court order to proscribe IPOB does not rest the case. Rather, the furore reminds us that more than two years after the ruling party came to power, that it has yet to steady its hands on the ship of state.

Given the accusation of being too ambitious that has shadowed Saraki’s political ascent, such flaks are bound to continue. Many will continue to see his actions and inactions as laced with politics. However, for those who welcomed his revolt against nepotism in 2011 or his exposure of the subsidy racket, it would be counted as a measure of his strength and survival sense.



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