Kwara: The Sins Of Saraki As Abdulrazaq, the State Governor Revokes The Family Land At Ilorin GRA And Demolishes The Popular Ille Arugbo

 By Suleiman Umaru

Bukola Saraki, a former governor of Kwara state and 8th National  Assembly  Senate President  appears to have played into the hands  of  President Muhammadu Buhari of the ruling All progressive Congress, APC, for leading a rebellion  against the party in his first  term in office in 2015. The fallout of the rebellion was the loss of the National Assembly leadership to the Opposition People’s Democratic Party , PDP.

Note that the party had selected  Ahmed Lawan,  a elected Senator, from Borno state, north east  geo-political region, to be  the Senate President  and  other principal officers of the National Assembly but  were outsmarted by Saraki and his loyalists who cut across the parties.  The fallout was that the APC, which was majority in the Legislative Chamber became  the  minority which frustrated the Buhari  administation as  most of his policies and request  and could not be approved.

 One of such requests  that was said to have been  turned down by the Saraki led Senate   was the $29.9 billion external borrowing loan  from the Paris Club to  fix the broken  down infrastructural facilities in the country, particular power, roads, agriculture and the educational sector.   The Katsina state born Nigerian President was said to have been unhappy with the Saraki, t for forming a strong Opposition against his government, thus frustrating his efforts  to fufill his electioneering Campaign promises to the people.

Another request of the President which was said to have shut down by the Senate  was the confirmation of  Ibrahim Magu, a Commissioner of Police as the Chairman , Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.  In spite of pressures from the Senate quarters on the President to sack Magu and  present another Candidate  to Head the anti-graft agency , he ignored them and retained him as the acting Chairman of the  Commission till date .

The Presidency  may have sent a message  to Saraki  and his loyalists that the battle line has been drawn as there were attempts to remove him  with the alleged  hiding of the Mace, the symbol of Authority in the National Assembly, which was said to have been  master-minded by Omo Agege, the incumbent Deputy Senate President and Buhari loyalist.

There were  also attempts to rope him in  with the alleged   Offa  Bank robbery attack last April   in Kwara state, as he was repeatedly invited for questioning at the Force  Headquarters for questioning.   Many believe that Saraki may have relaxed believing that the people of Kwara  state   will follow him enmass to the PDP and thus  vote for the Opposition party  Candidates  from  the  President, governor, Senate, House of Representatives and the House  of Assembly Candidates  during the last general elections. He got it wrong.

 Unknown to him the APC, Leadership in the state with the backing of the Adams Oshiomhole, a former  governor of Edo state and National Chairman of the ruling APC, had  penetrated the state that it will be very difficult for Saraki  to make any appreciable  impact in the election .  The reality dawned on him when  when Abdulfatah Ahmed , his godson , and governor of the state , who followed to the PDP, lost his re-election bid. The message was clear when he lost his Senatorial   district  election to an unknown APC  Candidate: the era of Saraki faly domination of Kwara politics is over.

 The APC leadership  may have further  taken advantage of the frosty relationship by between Senator  Gbemisola Saraki, who was blocked by  Bukola, his elder brother and  who  incidentally was a one-time  governor of the state, from realizing her gubernatorial ambition, in 2015, as she was  compensated in Buhari second term I office  as the minister of State, Transportation in order to mock the former Senate president, described as a Usurper in APC circles.

Political watchers believe that  APC’s  plan to destroy the Saraki family   dynasty in the state began  with the defeat of  Razak Atunwa, the PDP,  governorship Candidate by  Abdulrahman  Abdulrazaq, the APC Candidate and  Buhari political ally who was said to have  contested the  governorship election  under the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, and then  APC ,in 2015 in the state  but lost.

The former Senate President  may  have known that the legacy of Abubakar Olusola Saraki, his late father and a one-time senate majority leader  of the defunct National Party of Nigeria, NPN controlled Senate , between 1979 and 194,    will be thrown to the dust bin   with   the  emergence of Abdulrazaq, as  the  governor of the state. The former Senate President may have read the   handwriting well   on the wall going by the actions of the governor since he assumed office  against the long established political  family  last May.

One of such policies initiated by the governor  against the family  that is already generating controversy and crisis in the state was the revocation of the ownership of the piece of land allegedly  acquired by the late old Saraki  in Ilorin Government Reserved Area, GRA, the 1980s, but inherited by Saraki, the heir of the family and the former Senate President.

 The governor may have been encouraged to revoke the Certificate of occupancy of the Sarakis family land at the Ilorin GRA  because of the alleged report of Ibrahim Salman, Director General   of the state Bureau of Land which revealed that  there was no record to show that the late old  Saraki paid for the land as at the time he took possession of it in ‘80s.

Saraki: Former Senate President Expresses His Reservation Over Revocation Of Family Land

Salman had said that  the’’ allocation of the land to the late Saraki, a political doyen , in the state was not based  on’’ any formal application , nor application forms filled’’ an indication, that there was no evidence of payment. This is an indication that  the letter of allocation may have been manipulated by past administrations as the late doyen of Kwara politics may have  used his political weight to cover all loopholes to facilitate his  take over the land and therefore could not ask for  the right Certificate of Occupancy to be issued to him to avoid revocation by unfriendly in the state in future.

The state Bureau of  Land  Director  General  may have won the heart of the governor to revoke the Sarakis Land   when he revealed  based on records  that the land was originally designed for the construction  of a secretariat and a parking lot of the Civil  Service  Clinic. He noted that  the   entire land  was acquired by the government  in the ‘70s to host the phase II of the state secretariat.

According to him, the construction of the secretariat  had actually commenced  but it was at the superstructure  level  when it was discovered that  part of the land  slated  for the parking lot  was spuriously  allocated in principle to Asa Investment , owned by the Late Saraki, for Commercial purposes. The Company was said to have taken over the piece of land, paving the way for the man , fondly called ‘’called Oloye’’ in Ilorin, to erect  the popular ‘’ille Arugbo’’  for hosting political meetings and taking care of  the old people and the less privileged in the state.  The political strategy may have informed  how  he won the heart of the people of the state.  Bukola, his son, was  said to have sustained the legacy even after his father’s death.  

Salman, the Bureau of Land Director General findings may have informed  why Abdurazaq, the state governor requested the approval of the state state House of Assembly to revoke the Saraki’s family  landat Ilorin GRA. He got it.

Perhaps, to prove to the younger  Saraki,  that  Kwara state is no longer the exclusive political empire of the Saraki family, the governor was said to have  mobilised   bulldozers to the Asa Investment  ltd  landed  property at Ilorin, the state capital on Tuesday , January, Thursday 4, 2020, to destroy the late old Saraki  Ile Arugbo building. He was said to have sought the support of the state Commissioner of police who was said to have   deployed over 50 policemen armed to the teeth to watch over the demolition   of the property  in order to reclaimit for government use. 

In apparent reaction to the takeover of the Saraki’s family  land at the Ilorin GRA, the former Senate President who could not hide his feelings had  said that  the governor  had  ‘’crossed the line  of decency  for taking over their family land’’. An aggrieved Saraki accused  the APC governor of using his  office  to allegedly  erase  the legacies  of  the late  old Saraki.  He described the governor’s actions against the family, particular, the revocation of the ownership of the plots of land belong to the late  father at Ilorin, as ‘’clearly a  manifestation of vengeance’’, urging him   to ensure he  serves public purpose  or and pursue a development agenda of the state.   

Giving an insider information as a former governor  of the state over the  Asa Investment limited  landed property at Ilorin GRA,  he confirmed  that the property was rightfully given to  his father since the ‘80s, noting that a Certificate of Occupancy was issued on it.

He had  lambasted Abdulrazaq, who was said to have  made two attempt  in the past to rule the state as a  governorship Candidate of the defunct CPC,in 2011, a party  sponsored and registered  with the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, by the Katsina state born Nigerian President  and his political allies  but lost out to Saraki strong political machinery .

Appealing to the governor   not to see his victory  at the polls in the 2019 general election as an opportunity for empowerment, settlement  and enablement to settle scores, provoke  or pursue  inter-family rivalry   with perceived political  enemies but  to work for the development of the state.

 The Kwara state born former Senate President may  have tried to win the heart of the people  when he disclosed that prior to the takeover of the family land by the government , Abdulrazaq had invited the state Lawmakers  to the government House where he  was said to have directed   them to commence  the process  of amending the Law to change  the name of the state University which Abdulfatah Ahmed, a former governor of the state had  named  after the late old Saraki to immortalize his name  because of their close working relationship.  Perhaps, given the political dimension to the revocation of the Asa Investments   ltd , a company belonging to the old Saraki,  the Opposition  PDP, appears,  to have thrown their weight  behind  the former Senate President  to fight the battle  that will   force the  state  government to rescind its decision on the revoked land.

The party had said in  in a Statement  that  the revocation of the  Asa Investments property  at Ilorin  was a further demonstration  of Abdulrazaq’s  ‘’ vindictiveness  and vendata against the Saraki family’’ .Kola Shittu, an Engineer, and the state PDP Chairman averred that the actions of the governor  did not reflect  the general  wish  of the people of the state going by the resistance that was said to have been put up  by some old  women to stop the demolition exercise.

The PDP state  Chairman  fears that the actions of Abdulrazaq, the Kwara  state governor, in antagonizing the Saraki ‘s family  was capable of ‘’creating political   rivalry  and crisis  among the people of Ilorin and the state in general that may be difficult to solve’’. In an emotional outburst, the PDP state Chairman, noted that  the late old Saraki did not deserve  such an  unfair  treatment from  a governor of the state considering his contribution to       the development of Ilorin Emirate Council during his life time.  But whether Abdulrazaq will bow to pressure from both official and unofficial quarters  both within and outside the state to return the revoked property to the Saraki’s  family remain to be seen.

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