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The return of Gbemi Saraki in Kwara politics

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By Demola Akinyemi

UNTIL last week, the belief in many quarters in Kwara State following the outcome of the last general elections was that the dynasty of Dr Abubakar Olusola Saraki popularly known as “Oloye” has gone into oblivion. This is on account of the loss suffered by all the candidates of the immediate past Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, on the banner of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, as the All Progressives Congress, APC, recorded a clean sweep of elective positions.

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Some stakeholders in Kwara politics considered as absurd and an insult to their collective sensibilities the the trend of one man, Dr Olusola Saraki, single-handedly controlling and dispensing political fortunes as he wished and willed.

As if that was not enough the political baton was transferred to the khalifa in Saraki’s political dynasty, Dr Bukola Saraki, in 2003 and he wielded power for about 16 years before the gang up of opposition members politically disarmed him in the last general election.

Oloye, as was fondly called by his teaming admirers was a political strategist. He was generous to a fault and considered as   a man who loved his community passionately.

Trouble in Saraki dynasty

Trouble broke out in the Saraki political family in 2011 when Dr Bukola Saraki, who was completing his second term as governor of Kwara state refused to support his immediate younger sister, Senator Gbemisola Saraki, to succeed him.

Vanguard gathered that while Dr Bukola Saraki was doing his political permutations over his succession plan, he approached Gbemisola Saraki to relinquish the Kwara Central senatorial slot to him after her first term in the National Assembly while she would in return be supported to take over as the next governor. Senator Gbemisola Saraki reportedly accepted the offer, which would make her realise the tall dream of being the first elected female governor in Nigeria.

However, in a dramatic twist shortly after, Dr Bukola Saraki reportedly withdrew his support for Senator Gbemisola Saraki to become the next governor after she relinquished the senatorial ticket to him.

The father who was part of the initial political arrangement between the duo was bitter over the twist of events and he threw his political support for Senator Gbemisola Saraki.

The political battle line was drawn. Dr Bukola Saraki propped up his then Commissioner for Finance, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed as his governorship candidate with the argument that Kwara state is not the private estate of the Saraki family.

The argument, sound as it looked, attracted political support for him. His father and Senator Gbemisola Saraki left the government’s Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, for the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria, ACPN.

As fate would have it, Dr Bukola Saraki’s candidates and party won the election in a landslide and since then things fell apart and the centre could no longer hold for the Sarakis.

And since then, Senator Gbemisola Saraki reportedly rebuffed all entreaties by family, friends and associates to settle the difference between them and elected to be in any major party opposed to Bukola’s party. In 2015, when Bukola moved to the APC with his supporters, Gbemisola defected to the PDP.

Thus, while Bukola worked for General Muhammadu Buhari in the 2015 presidential poll on the platform of the APC, Gbemisola was for former President Goodluck Jonathan on the card of the PDP.

Conversely, when Bukola returned to the PDP in 2019 and worked for Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Gbemisola sought refuge in the APC and worked for Buhari and other APC candidates.

For her role in the political Tsunami that swept Bukola and PDP out of power in Kwara, President Buhari has rewarded Gbemisola with ministerial appointment at a time some political stakeholders thought Kwarans are through with the Sarakis in the state.

Interestingly, Senator Gbemisola Saraki, who is coming back into mainstream politics in the state had been off the political stage for well over a decade.

The beautiful “Aunty Amope” as fondly called by her teaming supporters took after her father in terms of generosity and is widely seen to be caring, respectful and humble.

However, no sooner had the news of her ministerial appointment filtered into Ilorin than some APC members kicked , though silently that the state is done with the Sarakis.

Nevertheless, the State Chairman of the Party, Hon. Bashir Omolaja Bolarinwa, in a press statement cautioned the members against ‘’needless protest’’ and to desist from any action that is capable of undermining the leadership of the APC at any level.

He said the two ministerial slots given to Kwara were a rare gesture that members of the party and the people of the state should rejoice over. President Buhari also re-nominated immediate Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Ali Mohammed, who hails from the state.

Amid the silent opposition, the ministerial appointment of Senator Gbemisola Saraki was hailed by a group, the Kwara New Era Movement under the banner of the APC in the state.

At a media briefing held at the secretariat of the group along Alore, Ilorin, the state capital, its President, Tajudeen Abojumeji and a stakeholder of the APC, Engr. Yusuf Obalowu, stated that they had followed the negative criticism that trailed the nomination of Gbemisola Saraki, which they described as unnecessary.

With her appointment, Senator Gbemisola Saraki is hugging the political limelight again. What she will do with it is to be seen.



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