FIERY STORM IN SARAKI'S DYNASTY
FEUD, either between siblings, or between father and son is undoubtedly unhealthy. It often results in intense bad blood and sometimes, tragedies. Ideally, such bitter rivalries should not in the natural cause of things, happen. But, we have seen that happen again, and again, as recorded in the scripture. Take, for instance, the case of Cain and Abel, the sons of Adam, who in the process of time, sought the acceptance of their offering from God.
The acceptance of Abel's offering against that of his elder brother, Cain resulted in a disfiguring jealousy that made Cain to kill his younger brother, Abel. Also, there was the emotionally moving story of Esau and Jacob, two brothers who scrambled for the blessing of their father, Isaac.
With Jacob 'deceiving' Esau to take the blessing meant for Esau, began one of the longest, and most bitter feud between two brothers. The Milibands' brothers, Ed and David, of the British Labour Party is only being papered over. That of father and son is an entire messy story altogether, often stoked with momentum of classic drama. The end result from all ages has never been known to be good. The bloody run-in between King David and his son, Absalom, all goes to show that a broken family cannot stand.
Ordinarily, a quarrel between siblings, or father and son, can be likened to a misunderstanding between husband and wife. In that case, it might be considered inappropriate for a third party to venture trenchant opinion. However, when the issue at the raging storm is outside the marital arena and strays into the turvy-turvy of politics, the bickering therefore comes within the bounds of permissive intrusiveness. And at that point, third parties are at liberty to have a look-in.
For sometime now, there have been an intense media speculations that there is a deep rift within the members of one of Nigeria's most influential and powerful families - the Saraki family. Indeed, until now, the family was a model for those searching for a philosophy of how a family, father and son, brother and sister can be clued seamlessly together, in pain and in joy. For years, the senior Saraki, Dr. Olusola Saraki, is not just a godfather; he is truly a rancher of citizens and the maker of kings. Indeed, he had crowned many as 'king' and had also dethroned some who turned their backs on him.
He does not need to flex his muscles. He only needed to issue 'orders in council'. It became law and the 'king' is dethroned. For that influence that he exudes, his admirers fondly call him Baba Oloye. It is not for nothing. But, that awesome power, maybe, is about to change. What can a father do to his son who has decided to challenge him and the family tradition and unity in order to give others a chance? That's the difficult hole the Saraki dynasty has dug itself into. That's why Kwara, the State of Harmony, has been riding on a tempest. Politics is the issue. And succession is the sore point.
Management experts have often cautioned that a good succession plan must encompass not just the people being groomed for succession but those they would replace. That would mean ensuring that the current occupant of the office must be generous with opportunities and advice and prepared to let go the reins. Dr. Bukola Saraki, a physician like his father, is the incumbent Governor of Kwara. He has few months to complete a two-term in office as guaranteed by the constitution. He's willing to let go the reins of office, but not to his sister, Gbemisola, a sitting senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
But father says, 'you will handover to my daughter, your sister'. But son says, 'Dad, making my sister my successor is not the 'right thing' to do. Simple reason: other geo-political zones in the state will cry 'marginalization'. But father does not believe in the 'nuts and bolts' kind of politics which you can see and measure. Maybe, because in the land of the hapless, the competent man is the king. Nobody can ignore the influence of the older Sarkai. But the younger Saraki has his reason well-grounded in commonsense, fairness, equity and justice. The family is said to have failed to resolve the matter, privately, and have been constrained to drag themselves to the public square.
Meanswhile. the Oloye has left his son's party, the ruling PDP, to a little known party, the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN) which he was reported to have registered as a fall-back in case a messy affair such as this happens.
Rationalizing his decision, Dr. Olusola Saraki said. 'the doors of PDP in the state has been locked against me. I cannot enter through these doors by their laws'.
When these doors were locked, there was no other way to enter unless you want to break it. And since I cannot break it, the best thing to do is to leave'. He said he duly informed President Jonathan of his decision, even though he claimed he had never been a member of PDP, but only a 'supporter'. His decision to put up his daughter in another political platform outside PDP could be interpreted as a tacit admission of having lost control of the state PDP to his son. But he is still bitter with his son whom he regards as a rookie governor surrounded by equally inexperienced aides. Hear him, 'My son, Bukola spent a lot of time in Abuja helping late President Yar'Adua to stabilize his government, leaving the state PDP to be run by others'. These people, he said, 'have done a lot of damage to his government.
Please join me to pray to God to bring my son back home to me'. This is a pained cry from a father who feels his son has deceived, perhaps manipulated by others, who are cashing in on his inexperience. That was what he meant when he said: 'Look at Bukola, what does he know about Kwara Politics?' He faulted his son's decision to give a level-playing field to all aspirants, even those by his words 'that cannot even win councillorship election. But he believes he holds the levers of power in the state, and when the time comes he will do exactly that. 'When the time comes, I will ask them to follow me'. The time is coming thick and fast.
Over the last three months, the Saraki senior has repeatedly said that whoever will succeed his son must be jointly determined by him and his son. No less. This matter is said to have become so serious, caused so much ' casualties in the ring', that it was taken to Holy mosque in Saudi Arabia where the political associates of the feuding family met to resolve the matter. But no solution was found. The last ditch effort to reconcile the family members reportedly took place after the last Ramada mast at the Great Hall of Oloye, Surulere area in the state capital.
This Hall, if you must know, is very significant. Some say, it is where kings are made and key political decisions that have changed the face of the state taken. And that's where the Oloye has promised to pull the rug from under the feet of his son and hand over the reins of power to his daughter whose poster is already all over the state.
Her aspiration, it must be said, is receiving quite a number of support, especially among the group called Women Change Initiative, calling for active participation of women in politics. However, many Islamic clerics in the state are strongly opposed to Gbemisola's candidacy, saying it is against Islamic tenets for women to lead in the society. This opposition is said to be resonating passionately in mosques, with the incendiary message being distributed freely in compact discs. The leadership of the Ilorin Emirate Council from where the Sarakis hail from has sued for peace. But father and son are not shifting ground.
No one is doubting that Gbemisola is a capable hand. Indeed, she is one of the few articulate senators in the current senate. But those opposed to her governorship aspiration insist that giving one family the reins of political power for about 16 years at a stretch, amount to saying that others don't matter or are bereft of leadership qualities. Some say the time has come for Saraki Senior to stop seeing himself as the sun around which other planets must revolve. And how this ultimately plays out, the outcome of this election in April will prove all that. If Oloye's daughter wins, Kwarans may well handover the keys of the Government House to him, with a song: All hail the king. May the King reign FOREVER. But, if he fails to enthrone his daughter, we will raise the red flag in derision: 'The King has been demystified. A victim of his own hubris, brought down by the gods of Icarus.'