The monolithic pool of supporters that trooped out to welcome the All Progressives Congress Presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu at the Metropolitan Square in Ilorin yesterday all but confirmed the obsolescence that the people of Kwara have relegated the once revered Saraki dynasty to; a political mystery that exemplifies an unfortunate misuse of betrothed human capital that many politicians could only have dreamt of.
From the airport to the main venue, down to the Emir’s palace, the people of Ilorin and its environs have not been more excited to receive a presidential candidate than they did for the visit of the Jagaban, not even when Saraki contested for the president under the PDP.
So what went wrong for the former senate president who was once projected to lead his father’s well-protected dynasty to places in Nigerian politics?
For many observers, the Otoge movement of 2019 did the damage. After assuming the position of the godfather of Kwara politics, Saraki gifted the people of Kwara a mediocre as governor in the person of Abdulfatah Ahmed. The mismanagement of Kwara’s resources coupled with a lack of activities at the local government, non-payment of salaries, decaying infrastructure and general misuse of power signalled the beginning of a revolution.
After his 8 years, another well-known mediocrity Razaq Atunwa was thrown into the ring by Saraki. The people of Kwara were not having any of it. It was time to give someone else a try. The PDP lost the governorship election to Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, and that was the final nail in the coffin as the new governor took the bull by its horn from day one and undid every bit of the Saraki’s grip on the Kwara project.
But was that all? The fight to rid Saraki of his grasp of power in Kwara could as well be traced to issues of national interest. The treachery exhibited by the former governor in a bid to become the senate president in 2015 against the will of his new political party, APC, was as damning to anyone’s political career as they come.
The people of Nigeria, Kwarans inclusive, had just given the Nigerian mandate to President Muhammadu Buhari with hopes of fresh air very loud amongst the citizens. Saraki, in his benevolent manner colluded with the opposition, PDP, to take the power of the legislative arm in a bid to frustrate the new government. To many in his camp, he had just displayed the highest level of political mastery against the leaders of his party including Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu who many see as a political colossus.
Probably unknown to him, the betrayal sent a message of treachery and selfishness to the rest of the political players all over the country.
Saraki did not just betray his political party. He betrayed the mandate of Kwarans who had hoped he will be there to support the new president they gave their mandate to. He betrayed his chances in future political schemes as seen in the way he was viewed among the delegates of the PDP in the last presidential primaries to the extent that he had to step down for Alhaji Atiku Abubakar; another corrupt figure that the people of Kwara will not want to relate with.
Another significant one on the list of reasons why Bukola Saraki lost his grasp in Kwara was the anti-progressive body language portrayed by him throughout his four years as President of the Nigerian Senate. On one significant occasion, he was caught on video bragging about how he reduced the budget meant for the completion of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, a project seen by many as the most important road infrastructure in Nigeria.
The executives led by Muhammadu Buhari lamented over the lack of cooperation from the legislative arm for four years as both the green and red chambers were headed by people elected by the opposition. Saraki spearheaded the efforts by the PDP to frustrate the administration and the message was well received by the people of Kwara and other Nigerians who worked, prayed and voted massively to ensure Saraki never smell the senate again. He became the first senate president to lose his reelection bid.
As stated earlier, the last but maybe the most significant reason why Saraki’s dynasty has failed in its bid to regain relevance is the level of performance of current governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq who has taken governance to a new level ever since he was elected. Human capital development took a new stride under governor Razaq, forgotten infrastructures were constructed, Local Government was brought back to life, priority was given to education and healthcare, poverty is being tackled head-on and many youths have been empowered. Traders got a new lease of life and the level of inclusivenesses is unprecedented.
Kwarans have tasted good governance. The last four years have been their best in recent times. The show of support yesterday received by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq echoes these assertions and It is high time the Saraki political dynasty gave up in their pursuit of relevance and instead should return to the drawing board because these people have seen the light. For them, Otoge has transformed into Never Again. The gains of the freedom they got in 2019 are not about to be relinquished.