Of Saraki’s state capture efforts and empty promises

By Ibraheem Abdullateef

Senator Bukola Saraki is everywhere asking Kwarans to forgive his excesses in the past, vote for Atiku Abubakar, and return him to power in Kwara through Alhaji Yaman Abdullahi’s candidature. The Yaman ticket is clearly a Saraki’s desperate effort to recapture and put Kwara perpetually in his pocket. Deputized by a Saraki’s sidekick Hon. Makanjuola, Yaman will not be his own man. In the unlikely event of his victory, Yaman will be another Fatai Ahmed who the media rightly branded a glorified errand boy whose decisions as Governor were wholly dictated by Bukola Saraki. If Yaman ever attempts to be his own man, as some of his campaigners are secretly saying and citing his true feelings about Saraki in a 2018 Otoge video in which he poured out his mind about who he thought Saraki is, his reign will be marred by violence and strife because Sarakis will have none of that. History bears witness to this. Kwara does not need that.

In other words, Saraki is simply asking Kwarans to make him the emperor who would dictate the destiny of the state once again. The lean public resources will again go into servicing him (as we saw with Ahmed awarding him double pension packages, contrary to the pension law) and oiling Saraki’s political machine which thrives on ridiculous and dehumanising patronage system. Public good will be the last consideration. We will have a Governor who will answer to Saraki rather than defer to the public. We saw it before. That is that.

Bukola Saraki has been making promises of bringing a lot of big projects to Kwara if the people vote for Atiku Abubakar. This sounds good until you look at the realities of power, his tension-soaked relationship with Atiku, and Saraki’s history as a former Senate President.

Saraki is not trusted within the Atiku camp. Atiku has a huge dossier on Saraki, perhaps dating back to 2003 when he reportedly helped the Sarakis to topple former Governor Mohammed Lawal using federal might. How did Saraki pay him back? There is so much distrust for Saraki in Atiku’s corners so much that the former senate president’s bid to be nominated the DG of Atiku’s campaign was frustrated. Governor Aminu Tambuwal was picked instead. The narrative is that the Atiku camp cannot forget their experience the last time Saraki was the DG of his campaign in 2019. There were allegations of serious mismanagement. Once bitten, twice shy?

As a Senate President, the seat he got through the backdoor, how much did Kwara benefit? As the Senate President, what were the landmark projects he influenced to Kwara despite practically holding the key to the national expenditure? The truth is that the National Assembly holds the key to national expenditure. Even first-timer like Senator Ibrahim Yahya Oloriegbe now has legacy projects to his name in the national psychiatric hospital, which serves the entire north central. Even the Speaker of the House of Assembly Yakubu Danladi Salihu can now speak about influencing the first Federal College of Education to Kwara North.

Where is that major legacy project that Saraki brought as Senate President? If he couldn’t influence a major project to the state as Senate President, why should anyone trust him to bring anything meaningful to the state when all he could get if Atiku ever wins is a ministerial position, one that Atiku will ensure does not confer any meaningful power on the power-drunken Saraki?

I hope the people of Kwara North particularly note this. It would only be worth the wait to have a leader who will foster real growth and development, not one who would not be able to lift a finger to fight for them or the entire people of the state. That would be a wrong decision. This, Saraki knows, is best for only him. So, the whole effort is about Saraki and Saraki alone, not about the state and its people. His clandestine campaigns across the state are targeted at just one thing: second domination of Kwara and its people. This should not happen again. We are not his inheritance as his henchmen like to think and behave we are.

• Abdullateef is the Special Assistant to Kwara Governor on Communication. He tweets @_ibraheemlateef

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