Erasing Olusola Saraki’s Legacies

By Anthony Ademiluyi

Dr. Abubakar Olusola Saraki the medical doctor turned politician was a Philanthropist who took advantage of the widespread poverty in his native state of Kwara to build his political empire and feather his nest. After tasting electoral defeat in 1964, he changed his strategy by being aloof to being a man of the people by regularly doling out food and other items essential for daily survival on a regular basis. People politicians and the masses alike thronged his residence which was like a Mecca of sorts to see the man who had become a government to himself as he met their needs by giving them the bread of life which the government including those he ironically installed denied them.

For his kind gestures, the people became his loyal serfs as they massively voted for his candidates during elections and made him the undisputed political godfather of the agrarian and civil service state.

He went as far as building a house popularly known as ‘Ile Arugbo’ or old people’s home where gifts of foodstuff was shared to those in the twilight of their lives in a country where there is the absence and dearth of a social security scheme and where the corrupt governments have in most cases embezzled their pensions meant for their peaceful old ages.

Barely seven years after his passage to eternal glory, the present government of Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrasaq revoked the house’s certificate of occupancy which sparked a row between him and the son of the former state’s strongman – erstwhile Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki. In a statement released to the Thisday Newspaper the nation’s former three man said: “Yesterday night, the Kwara State Governor, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq finally showed his true colour when he announced his decision to revoke the ownership of a property rightfully held by my late father, Dr. Olusola Abubakar Saraki on Plots 1, 3 and 5 Ilofa Road, GRA, Ilorin popularly known as Ile Arugbo, (Old People’s home) which since the Second Republic, has always been used to host the weekly gathering of a multitude of aged people in the society who are provided food, money and health services, as part of the social welfare programme sponsored by the late politician. The tradition has since been maintained.

“Before now, this same Governor had invited all the members of the State House of Assembly and directed them to commence the process of amending the law to change the name of the State University which the last administration renamed after my late father, Dr. Abubakar Olusola Saraki. He then followed up on this act of vengeance by initiating a bill to rename the University and expunge the name of the late Dr. Abubakar Olusola Saraki. Now, he has decided to also revoke the titles of the landed property which belongs to the late politician. May be, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq thinks his will be the last administration in Kwara State but definitely, this is self delusion”.

The former senate president said that the property had been rightfully allocated to his late father under the name of one of his companies, Asa Investment Limited, since the 1980s and contrary to the claim of the Governor, the land was properly allocated and a Right of Occupancy title issued on it.

He explained that It should be noted that the excuse given by Abdulrazaq in his revocation order holds no water since it was clear that this was the height of his vengeance against him and his late father, Dr. Olusola Saraki.

“Till today, many Kwarans have been wondering what problem the Governor has with the late Oloye Abubakar Olusola Saraki or what the late politician did to offend him. It is surprising that of all vacant plots of land in strategic places across Ilorin township, the one that Abdulrahman found useful for his vengeful plan is the one owned by late Dr. Saraki. It is beyond comprehension why a Governor would set as his main agenda the objective of undermining and waging a war of attrition against a man who is no longer around”.

The government spokespersons are yet to give an official reply to Saraki’s allegation and so it is difficult to come to an acceptable conclusion as to whether the actions of the government was just or not. It is pertinent for the government to react to this as there is the danger of a single story apologies to the world renowned writer, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. If indeed it is true that the late politician abused his privilege by not properly building his house, then the action of the governor is highly justified as impunity in whatever form shouldn’t be tolerated at all. It doesn’t matter that it was used for a ‘good cause’ of feeding the poor. The right thing must be done no matter who is involved.

It is rather tragic that none of the beneficiaries took to the streets to protest against the actions being meted out to their late benefactor. This shows the frailty of human nature whose memory is rather short and is so caught up in the challenges of day to day living that they tend to swiftly forget the past.

One wonders why the strongman didn’t ensure that the governments he installed didn’t institutionalize the welfare scheme so as to ensure its longetivity and systematization! Wouldn’t it have been better for Kwara to have been a welfare state than for him to keep the masses dependent on him ad infinitum in order to ensure that the scheme long outlived him? Who remembers the late strongman of Ibadan politics, Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu for his legendary amala sharing largesse?

The fate of Saraki is a reminder to all mortals that life here on earth is really short and transient and at the end of the day what really matters is the legacy we leave behind which no government no matter how powerful can erase. This is what every sensible human being should realize and work towards as each day brings one closer and closer to his or her grave.

This reminder should also go to Governor Abdulrasaq who won’t be in power forever; who knows what action of his may be reversed by his successor?

Tony Ademiluyi writes from Lagos and edits

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