From ADETUTU FOLASADE-KOYI, Abuja and LAYI OALNREWAJU, Ilorin
The Kwara State Government yesterday announced the death of His Eminence, Waziri of Ilorin, Dr. Abubakar Olusola Saraki. According to a statement issued by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Alhaji Abdulwahaab Oba, the governor said the political icon died yesterday morning at his residence in Lagos and was buried the same day in Ilorin according to Islamic rites.
Governor Ahmed commiserated with the Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari, the Baloguns and other traditional title-holders, Alfas and the entire Ilorin Community and Kwara State at large on the death of the Waziri of Ilorin. Meanwhile, the Kwara State governor declared yesterday a work-free day and three days of mourning, to allow the people of Kwara to attend the burial of the late Dr. Olusola Saraki, while a 20-man committee on the burial has been set up.
In separate statements, Speaker of Kwara State House of Assembly, Razaq Atunwa, two members of the House of Representatives, Dr. Ali Ahmad and Mashood Mustapha said Saraki would be greatly missed by the people of Kwara State and Nigeria as a whole, describing him as a generous giver and kind-hearted leader. As a mark of honour for the late politician, the state House of Assembly yesterday adjourned sitting for eight days.
The Speaker of the House, Rasaq Atunwa announced this on the floor of the House after announcing the demise of Saraki. The speaker, who ordered the suspension of all matters on the order paper for yesterday described the death of Saraki as a rude shock. Atunwa who betrayed emotions directed members to observe two minutes silence in honor of the deceased. Some of the members of the House who paid tributes to late politicians described him as a rare gem and philanthropist of the highest order.
The House later adjourned sitting to November 22. The Assembly’s flag was lowered at half-mast immediately the sitting was adjourned as a mark of respect for the late politician. Prof. Albert Ogunsola, one of the closest associates of Saraki in a pensive mood, said: “Saraki did not die young because whoever lived above 70, such person did not die young. I thank God that he is useful for Kwara, Nigeria as a whole. He is a great friend because God joined us together before God took him away. Last week, we spoke on phone.” Ganiyu Cook Olododo, a former secretary to the state government under former governor Bukola Saraki, said: “He is a leader of all leaders, father of masses. Baba doesn’t believe in religious affiliation. You may be his enemy today; he will take you back tomorrow.
His demise is a great loss to Nigeria, it is great lost to the Sarakis worldwide and we shall misses him a lot.” To a former senior special assistant to Governor Lawal on Media, Alhaji Rasak Gidado; Oloye’s death was unfortunate, saying he knew that Kwara politics would progress because before his demise he decided to leave the stage for the younger ones.” Among the early callers to Ile-loke, Iloffa Road residence of the Sarakis include former millitary adminsitrator of Bauchi and Osun states Col. Theophilus Bamigboye, chairmen of Elders’ Forum, Alhaji Oba Bolanta, Alhaji Saidu Alanamu serving and former political office holders, amongst others.
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Vice Chairman (South-West), Chief Segun Oni described the late strongman of Kwara politics, Dr. Olusola Saraki as an outstanding professional, grasssroots man and leader. Oni, who reacted to Saraki’s death through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Lere Olayinka, said Kwara State people, Nigerians and in particular, the PDP would miss him so dearly. “Baba was truly a political timber, a colossus of wide diameter and a wonderful political strategist.
“He was unarguably one of the most successful politicians in this part of the continent of Africa, having controlled the politics of Kwara State for over 40 years. “Indeed, we have lost a great man, a great man who loved his people passionately and served them diligently. ‘We have lost a kingmaker par excellence and a man who in every way exemplified commitment to the betterment of people’s life. “We have lost a great man who made an enduring foundation for our party, the PDP in Kwara State.”
Governor Sullivan Chime of Enugu State commiserating with Senator Bukola Saraki and other members of his family as well as the government and people of Kwara State over the death of their father in a message signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Chukwudi Achife, described the late Saraki as a vibrant and exemplary political leader, who served the nation in many capacities and worked hard to bring development to his people.
Otunba Gbenga Daniel, former governor of Ogun State while reacting to the death of Chief Olusola Saraki, said the death of Saraki has robbed Nigeria of an astute politician and elder statesman who was consistent in seeking and working for a better deal for his people and the country. Daniel said in statement by his Media Assistant, Adegbenro Adebanjo, that Saraki belonged to the second generation of Nigerian nationalists, who worked to keep Nigeria as a united country and played active roles in steering Nigeria away from the brinks at very difficult times.
“Saraki was indeed a titan in his own right. He was a bridge builder who was always available to contribute his own quota especially at very difficult moments in the history of the country. His death is a big loss not only to Kwara State but the whole country. With his death Nigeria has lost a bridge builder and firm believer in politics without bitterness. He will be remembered for his close affinity to the grassroots and bond with his people.”