Tributes to Saraki, Adesina

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Between November 11 and 14, 2012, Nigeria lost two of its illustrious politicians and elder statesmen, namely Dr Abubakar Olusola Saraki, the strong man of Kwara politics and former Senate Leader, and former Governor of Oyo State and chieftain of Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Alhaji Lamidi Onaolapo Adesina.

The duo passed away recently due to protracted ailments and they had been buried according to Islamic rites. In their death, Nigerians, especially the political elites, have been thrown into deep mourning.

They will be solely missed by their political associates and admirers across the country for their service to humanity. Nigerians from all walks of life have eulogized their sterling qualities and virtues. As a politician, Saraki rose to national consciousness as the Senate Leader in the Second Republic.

He was also a former presidential aspirant and Chairman of defunct Societe Generale Bank. His banking business was not quite successful. Though a medical doctor, Saraki, who was popularly known as Baba Olooye was particularly known for his politics more than his medical practice. The 79-year-old Waziri of Ilorin and astute political leader, who passed on, on November 14, was for several decades, the patriarch of Kwara politics and the sole determinant of who becomes a governor in the state including the choice of his son, Dr. Bukola Saraki to the plum post. His later attempt to impose his daughter, Gbemisola, to replace Bukola as the governor during the 2011 gubernatorial race in the state, was vehemently resisted.

Perhaps, his only regret at death was his inability to reconcile his political associates following the crisis that rocked his political establishment prior to the 2011 general polls. In Kwara State, where he was the dominant factor in politics, his political praxis lacked the basic tenets of democracy as he single-handedly chose those in power in the state.

At a time when godfatherism was a bane in Nigerian politics, Olooye was the epitome of that political ideology in Kwara State. Saraki will be remembered for his political activism and for bestriding the Kwara politics like a colossus for years, as well as his philanthropic spirit. Similarly, Alhaji Adesina, who died on November 11, at the age of 73, was a former governor of Oyo State under the defunct Alliance for Democracy (AD) from 1999-2003 and also one of the old-school Awoists.

Under the banner of AD, which was generally believed to be the off-shoot of former Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), he stepped into the saddle and pursued the party’s populist agenda of free education and free housing and health, among other cardinal programmes. Educated at Loyola College, Ibadan, Adesina obtained his first degree in History from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka in the 1960.

He had a distinguished career in the teaching profession and rose to the post of a school principal before joining full-time politics in 1978. The “Great Lam” as the deceased was fondly called by admirers was a consummate reader and writer. As a politician, he was adjudged to be a quintessential leader, a patriot and a dedicated progressive. The deceased was of the defenders of democracy and human rights.

He was a distinguished member of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) that fought alongside others for the return of democracy in 1999. Particularly, Adesina will be remembered for his sincerity and commitment to the service of his people.

Nigerians will miss the candour and forthrightness Saraki and Adesina brought into the political game. Both, in their own way, tried to better the lot of those under them and made immense contributions to the growth of Nigerian democracy. We commiserate with their respective families, the political class, friends and admirers for the great loss. May Almighty Allah grant their souls eternal repose.

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