Olusola saraki 1933-2012
•His last moments, by political associate
… We’ve lost a gem –Beggars
From BAMIGBOLA GBOLAGUNTE and LAYI OLANREWAJU, Ilorin
Grief and mourning enveloped Ilorin, the Kwara State capital yesterday as the remains of the late strongman of Kwara politics and Second Republic Senate Leader, Dr Abubakar Olusola Saraki, popularly called Baba Oloye by his associates, were interred. He succumbed to cancer at the age of 79.
The late icon, who was described by political associates as a rare gem and philanthropist, was buried at 6:20pm at his GRA, Ilorin residence after a special prayer held at the Eid Praying Ground, Unity Road, Ilorin.
It was attended by eminent Nigerians.
The late politician’s body arrived in Ilorin International Airport aboard an Overland plane at 4:30pm.
It was accompanied by his widow, Florence, and Senators Bukola and Gbemisola Saraki.
His death was expected –Aides However, Saraki’s death which shook the entire Kwara State and the country did not come as a surprise to some of his close associates, who had observed his failing health over time. A close associate of Oloye, Alhaji Saliu Woru Mohammed, told Daily Sun that Saraki’s death did not surprise most of them as his health had failed in the last few months as he could not attend to many issues.
He said the late Waziri of Ilorin for the first time in the last 40 years of his leadership of Kwara politics, did not come to Ilorin, his home base for the last Eid-el Kabir festival, saying that development portended a terrible situation of his health during the festival. Saraki’s unfulfilled dreams However, he said the late Saraki never predicted his death as he had many unfulfilled dreams, noting that top of those dreams was to reconcile all his political associates, who had split as a result of the 2011 governorship election where two of his biological sons contested for the poll under different parties.
Alhaji Mohammed who is the Mogaji Nda of Ilorin, was believed to be the right hand man of the late Saraki and one of the few individuals that had free access to his sitting room either in Lagos or Ilorin even in the absence of Oloye. Recalling his last encounter with the late politician, Mohammed said: “I was worried when I didn’t see Oloye to come for the last Eid-el Kabir festival.
This was very unusual of him, and I’m not sure he celebrated the festival outside Ilorin in the last 40 years that he had been leading us politically in Kwara State. After putting many calls across to him, I still did not feel satisfied and that necessitated my travelling to Lagos where I met with him one on one inside his bedroom and there, he told me many of his dreams. He said he would like to reconcile his political associates who now spread to PDP, ACPN and ANPP, both within and outside the state.
“Baba also told me that he would want the Ilorin Central Mosque to be commissioned in his presence and send him to the Ilorin Emirate Council that he would choose a date for the commissioning of the mosque. I delivered his message to the Emir of Ilorin and the building committee of the mosque where he served as the chairman.” He said that the late Saraki would be remembered for his forgiving spirit, humility, transparency, large heartedness, kindness, qualitative and exceptional leadership styles, noting that the late Oloye had forgiven all his political foes before he died.
“He told me that he had already forgiven all those who stood against him politically. He told me he did not nurse any grudge against any individual again. His life was indeed a lesson for upcoming politicians in the country. He showed the way politics should be played and led by example,” he added. Describing Saraki’s death as unfortunate, Mohammed said massive reconciliation would begin henceforth within Saraki’s political family to ensure that his death did not go in vain, just as he said that his son, Bukola, would emerge as the next political leader in the state.
On the choice of Bukola the Saraki, a former governor of the state as the leader of the party, Mohammed said: “Bukola Saraki has all it takes to lead us in Kwara State. He’s well educated, enlightened and also exposed. He will definitely continue from where his late father stopped because he must have learnt so many things from his father who will forever remain our mentor.” He noted that the late Saraki did not die in vain as he made marks in Nigerian politics and replaced himself with a son who is a Senator.
He said the Emir of Ilorin, Dr Zulu-Gambari would convey a meeting of the Ilorin emirate to ensure that a befitting edifice within the emirate is named after Saraki, adding that the state government would also do similar thing in honour of the late politician. Meanwhile, the people of Kwara State yesterday trooped out in their large numbers to pay their last respect for their late political icon. Many of the roads were yesterday deserted in Ilorin as a mark of respect for the late politician, just as people gathered in groups to discuss the sudden demise of Saraki, who they said impacted much on them. Even beggars who usually sleep and wake up at the gate of Saraki felt his absence as many of them wept, saying their helper and supporter had gone forever. One of the beggars who identified himself as Mallam Sanni, said: “Oloye did so much for us.
He was a great philanthropist who did not condemn any set of people. He set up businesses for many of us here in Ilorin, and each time he was at home, we were sure of our three square meals. In fact, the light had gone out of our lives and there is darkness everywhere. The helper of our destiny is no more..” However, scores of sympathisers have continued to throng the Ilorin residence of the Sarakis family since the news of the death of the patriarch broke out through a statement by Governor Abdullfatah Ahmed and signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Alhaji Waheed Oba.
The governor in the statement, commiserated with the Emir, the Baloguns and other traditional titleholders, Alfas and the entire Ilorin community and Kwara State at large on the death of the Waziri of Ilorin. Tambuwal leads delegation Dignitaries at the burial include the Speaker, House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, led all the dignitaries, National Planning Minister, Samsudeen Usman led the Federal Government team. Other members of his team include the Internal Affairs Minister, Comrade Abba Moro and the Minister of Sports, Bolaji Abdulahi.
The rest include Senator Andy Uba, former Gombe State governor, Senator Danjuma Goje, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, former acting National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Abubakar Baraje, and his predecessor, Alhaji Aliru Bello Mohammed, Chief Jim Nwobodo and Dr. Wale Babalakin, Mr. Segun Agbaje, Group Managing Director, GTB and Alhaji Kola Abiola as well as all federal legislators from the state were also on ground.
At the Eid-Praying Ground, the Chief Imam of Ilorin, led the Janaza prayers at about 5.05pm. The eid arena was very crowded as many supporters struggled to catch a glimpse of the body. It took several minutes before it was brought out of the ambulance.