Bukola Saraki, here is your wreath
By Akogun Iyiola Oyedepo
Every 15th day of January, Nigerian leaders must lay wreath at the cenotaph of our fallen soldier heroes. Cenotaph is built in memory of the fallen heroes and sometimes they are unknown soldiers that kept the country together with their own blood.
The wreath is laid for their gallantry and the sacrifice to keep Nigeria one. But then the wreath is laid for the dead, not for the living. When a politician of high profile falls in political battle field and the fall is total and devastating, we must lay a wreath.
This is a fall that makes him to face a cloudy and uncertain political future. When the inheritor of a political dynasty crashed the inherited empire, it is not a physical death but an eclipse of a political life: a form of death.
The share burial of the dynasty calls for laying of a wreath. The wreath may not be laid for valor or gallantry, but death and burial of the dynasty demands that we pay our last respect by laying a wreath. So, Bukola Saraki, here is your wreath.
And I am qualified to lay a wreath. For nine of my thirty years in politics, I was with the dynasty. For the nine years of my relationship with the dynasty, I worked to sustain the dynasty.
The old Patriarch of the home and the leader of the political movement, if he were to be around could not deny my political effectiveness for which I was accordingly rewarded.
If only because I was once inside, I must lay a wreath. In the struggle for the freedom of Kwara State, I remain a general, with stars. I remain at the forefront. Only my category lays a wreath at the funeral of a fallen politician Soldier. And therefore, I must lay a wreath.
My leader and my mentor, Dr Abubakar Olusola Saraki made the most costly political mistake of his political career, the day he conceded to make his son the Governor of Kwara State.
There is certainly physical resemblance between father and son, but in behavior and character, I think they are poles apart. A situation that made Kwara State treasury to be located in the bedroom of the great Oloye could not have been in the best interest of a dynasty that must endure.
Initially, people thought Bukola was a smokescreen, a façade and that the old man was the iron ruler behind the curtain.
Those that goaded the original Leader to make his son the governor of Kwara State in 2003, were not only sycophantic and self-serving, they aided the eventual demise of the empire.
When he sponsored for gubernatorial office, Alhaji Adamu Atta in 1979, and the relationship between godfather and his son became sour, sympathy was with the godfather.
His own supporters supported him to defeat the recalcitrant godson. Just because the buck by then did not stop on his table, it was easy to label Adamu Atta as butulu alaimore (a foolish ingrate).
Chief C. O. Adebayo was a beneficiary of the crisis between Adamu Atta and Dr Abubarkar Olusola Saraki and perhaps there was a deal between the two leaders before Oloye’s faction of NPN decided to support Chief C. O. Adebayo’s UPN. Chief Adebayo became a Governor.
From findings, within three months of that administration, there had been some cracks in the wall. If the administration had lasted, the cracks might have made the wall to cave in.
What would have happened was predictable: Oloye would rally his supporters against that government. His message would sink because the buck did not stop in his bedroom.
There was to be war between Governor Shaaba Lafiagi and the great Oloye which was to blow open on the issue of constitution of a new Kwara State SDP Executive.
The contest was between Alhaji S. A. Lawal and Alhaji Usman Mustapha. Even two days to the Party primaries in 1993, nobody could clearly say where Governor Shaaba belonged.
The brewing crisis was tamed by the leadership of the Elders loyal to Oloye under Alhaji Suleiman Shagaya. If it had blew open, the supporters of Oloye would have probably sided with the Leader, because the bread was not cut in the home of the leader who could decide to pass the buck to the Governor.
From Governor Shaaba, it was the turn of Rear Admiral Mohammed Lawal to become the Governor of Kwara State in 1999. Two years after, there was commotion in the house. The Leader gathered all his supporters and through outside connivance, Governor Mohammed Lawal was unseated.
The Khalifa, Dr Abubarkar Bukola Saraki mounted the throne in 2003 and brought all the yams home. He initially gave the knife to the father who was cutting the yam the way he wanted.
The political neophyte became adult and claimed experience and freedom from political tutelage. At the end of his two term tenure in 2011, the infant of 2003 had become a full blown adult ready to displace the father.
Initially it was the father that was cutting the yam for the son, the son is now of age and decided to cut the yam even without reference to the father. There was war in the bedroom where Kwara Yam was always dealt with.
What followed is now to the knowledge of all. Weakened by internal crisis within the family; the son forcibly inherited an empire without the father’s blessings, the empire was run directly by a self-serving leader whose well known emblem is arrogance, the dynasty finally crumbled on the 9th of March 2019. We must lay the wreath.
Alhaji Oba Bolanta famously said that a Senegalese marabout said the dynasty would last for eighty years. The period of the dynasty’s political hold on Kwara State was from 1979 to 2019, a period of forty years.
It is unfortunate that Oba Bolanta died last year and could not see the limit of man’s prediction especially when God did not say so. The dynasty fell half way to the period of the prediction. Glory to Almighty God.
The struggle that uprooted the oppressive oligarchy in Kwara is a collective endeavor of many that believed in it. Some started the day Dr Abubakar Olusola Saraki came into the politics of Kwara State.
Such people are boastful that they had never been in the same political Party with Dr Olusola Saraki. Some were at one time or the other in the same Party with the Oloye, but they usually fight their political battle from within. Some joined the struggle at the twilight of the victory. We all contributed in one form or the other to this Kwara emancipation project.
In my own case, I started my struggle against this oppression, in year 2002: about eighteen years ago. That was the year Governor Mohammed Lawal and Dr Abubarkar Olusola Saraki entered into a titanic political battle which only appeared terminated on the demise of Governor Lawal.
The weapons of war between Lawal and Olusola Saraki were blackmail, violence resulting into killings and maiming and scientific electoral manipulations yet to be paralleled in the history of elections in our State.
Bukola Saraki palm kernel which resulted to sixteen years of political hold on Kwara State; was cracked by the benevolent spirit of his father, power was given to political inexperienced on the platter of gold.
The young Bukola may have grown up in the political theater of the father, but the son of the privileged could not learn the nitty gritty of politics at home. The father was a captain of industries and a Lagos socialite of Yoruba Tennis Club in Lagos.
Kwara State was the political theater and the laboratory of the high flying Oloye. He came to Kwara to play his brand of politics, he went back to Lagos to dine and wine with equally successful captains of Industries and politicians.
A person that must make a career in politics must start low. He would learn humility by carrying chairs and setting the tables for political elders and leaders at political meetings.
He would learn the ethics of politics and the management of intrigues which politics represents by desire to take Party offices at the ward, local or Federal structure of the Party.
He would want to take political offices at the lower levels to gain experience of being in political authority. Bukola went from home to the presidency as an Adviser, then in quick succession to the Government House of Kwara State, as the Executive Governor.
Those that foisted on us somebody not prepared for duties of office but rather for the aura of power, should be held culpable for Kwara sixteen years of waste.
So Governor Lawal died but I kept the wings of the struggle flying since 2002, a period of eighteen years before we now have our independence.
A Governor that was alienated from the governed, though have more than two third of his people having one thing or the other to do with agriculture; went to Zimbabwe to bring thirteen farmers to do commercial Agriculture for us in Kwara State.
It was a fraud, and I saw it. Part of the struggle was my first book on this subject matter in 2005. Before his demise, Governor Lawal established a weekly newspaper.
In that paper, I maintained a weekly column dedicated to sensitization of the people of Kwara State about Bukola’s misgovernment.
In short, during these dark days in Kwara, I wrote many articles including my classical work on my vision for heterogeneous Kwara State: Letters To The Emir.
During the time too, I suffered some arrests that resulted to false imprisonments and there had been threats to my life. We need to thank almighty God for all His mercies and protections.
During the time of Governor Lawal, the battle was between ANPP and PDP. The then leader of our resistance died in battle, after which many soldiers of the battle deserted.
At a time, this struggle became a one man battalion or as some prefer to call it, one man riot squad. Destiny made me to become the Chairman of PDP in 2014.
The radio program was created. I was then convinced that if the Government of Kwara State through their leader, Senate President, Bukola Saraki, captured and retained power with the use of money, we would need to design another route to our freedom.
He touches the hand with his money, we touch the heart with our messages. Messages in human heart is potent and enduring, it can also be dispersed by the recipients.
Victory is the outcome of our radio sensitization program through which we developed a new impetus for mobilization and organization of Kwarans for political action.
We are here today, our messages rendered the use of money impotent, with our messages godfather had to crumble and get exited from politics of the land.
In 2003, they manipulated to get to power. One of the worst elections that had ever been conducted in Nigeria was that of 2003. Anybody that is in doubt should ask the people of Oyo, Ogun, Osun and Ekiti States. The dosages of manipulations served elsewhere was served too in Kwara State.
But as far as Nigeria is concerned, the best election in Nigeria was that of Kwara State on the 23rd February and that of 9th March 2019.
The Senate President claims that he was not in contest with anybody but with the Security agencies and INEC. I think this defeat should humble that man, but he still remains his arrogant self.
I could see the writings of his hired writers that some people from the top, who they claim are the avowed enemies of the Senate President had to come to Kwara State to help to defeat the PDP and Bukola in the State.
Such people do not know the dynamics of Politics of Kwara. Saraki Bukola had been defeated by the then PDP that I led in the Local Government election of 17th November 2017.
By then we had no federal might and the local council election was organized by the State INEC of the out-going regime. In that election, The Senate President was defeated at his own polling booth.
What they later declared as victory for themselves were the results doctored by their INEC, using the pliable Dr Uthman Ajidagba, the then Chairman of Kwara State Independent Electoral Commission (KWSIEC). Where was federal might for us in 2017? Where was money for us in 2017?
‘O to gee’ had been turned to a movement of the people of Kwara State without any external influence. In the general elections of 2019 in Kwara State, security agencies maintained dignified neutrality. If they have been doing this in previous elections, we would not have been in bondage for sixteen years.
While the battle raged, I asked for three things from God. He granted all. Firstly, I asked of the Lord that Bukola Saraki shall not die before the people of Kwara State would disgrace him out of politics.
Secondly, I asked that he would not be jailed by any court of law before he would suffer a devastating defeat. Lastly, I asked God that he would never be removed either by his colleagues at the Senate or that Federal Government should induce his removal as the Nigerian Senate President.
If he had died or imprisoned before his crushing defeat, many Nigerians that believed so much in his invincibility would say Kwarans could not have defeated him if he had been around. If he was removed as the Senate President, in his defeat, people would have seen the hands of the Federal Government with which he has issues.
Let it be told to the doubtful, that the people of Kwara State were tired of the leadership of Bukola Saraki and used their voting strength to consign him to political irrelevance in Nigeria.
There is time for everything. A time to climb the ladder of power and a time to descend. The first generation of Kwara Politicians were Chief J. S. Olawoyin, Alhaji Ahman Patigi, Alhaji Buhari Edun, Alhaji Sule Maito and a host of others. If they did not descend, Dr Abubarkar Olusola Saraki, Chief C. O. Adebayo, Alhaji Shehu Usman and others would not have risen.
All political power, dynasty or empire cannot last for ever. The only sad thing is that Bukola Saraki’s sun now sets at noon.
Therefore, Bukola Saraki here is your wreath.
Oyedepo is a leader of Otoge movement in Kwara state