Despite his demise four years ago, good memories of the strong man of Kwara politics, Dr Abubakar Olusola Saraki, resonated on Monday as eminent Nigerians converged on Ilorin to heap tributes on the late political king-maker. AHMED ‘LATEEF was there.
Although it was meant to be low-key, the cluster buildings on the right side when descending the road from the State Civil Service Hospital popularly known as Ile Arugbo (House of the aged) on Iloffa Road, GRA, Ilorin witnessed traffic snarl in human and vehicular movement.
Both humans and vehicles had to exercise extreme restraints while moving up and down within the precinct of the residence and adjoining areas of the late patriarch of Saraki political dynasty, Abubakar Olusola Saraki, a medical doctor cum politician.
For motorists and pedestrians who plied the Iloffa Road, GRA country home of Saraki frequently, the spectacles and atmosphere were predictable, all in the memories of the Waziri of Ilorin Emirate.
At a point, vehicular movement had to be restricted by armed security agents from some few metres away to the sprawling buildings of the political titan.
The dejected countenance on the faces of the high profile personalities and individuals who made it to the residence of the late politician for the tribute like fourth year remembrance prayer showed that after 1462 days of his sojourn of no return to the next world, they were still reeling from the shock of the disbelief of Saraki’s death.
Understandably, several of the dignitaries in attendance had at one time or another benefited and underwent training in the late high chief political school of thought, which successfully primed them for various covetous offices they found themselves.
The Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki; his wife, Oluwatoyin Saraki; matriarch, Mrs Morenike Saraki and Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara State looked sober throughout the period prayers were offered for the late political icon. What appeared to be sorrowful look was emotive and could move anyone to tears.
Thus, if the efficacy of the deluge of prayers said at the session could immediately rise the dead from the grave, the Waziri of Ilorin would have resurrected to tell the whole world that “am still alive, I only took a sojourn to rest”.
For over four decades that Saraki bestrode Kwara politics like a colossus, he carved a niche for himself. His was all about people’s welfare. It was clear from his political ideology that putting smiles on the faces of the downtrodden should be the major priority of any serious government.
His arrival into the city of Ilorin was always characterized by pomp and pageantry as old and young assembled on both sides of the road trying to catch the glimpse of the political warlord.
Little wonder his Iloffa, GRA residence in Ilorin used to be beehive of activities with old folk and young alike besieging his residence to benefit from his welfarist scheme.
Members of the political class were also not left out. They converged on Saraki’s residence to receive either endorsement or blessings before embarking on any mission. Inside his sprawling residence was a special house called “Great Hall”. Though the hall is still alive, the owner is no more. It was inside this hall that fate of political office contenders and potential appointees were determined.
Cognizant of the deft and prowess of the late Senate Leader of the Second Republic in the political calculation in the country, office seekers would employ all windows of opportunities that presented themselves to sneak into that hall, for entering that hall painted white was herculean.
As a man with human milk in his eyes, it was almost impossible to make entry into an apartment dejected without looking cheering and effervescent when coming out.
Like a common saying that “No act goes unrewarded”, the legacy of the Saraki in the last four years has kept recurring and rejuvenating, one that appears very rare among the political class.
However, in a well attended special prayer for the late political icon, an Ilorin-based Islamic Scholar, Sheik Suleiman Dan-Borno, reminded members of the political class, irrespective of religious beliefs, to put Almighty God first in all their undertakings.
Beside, the cleric also admonished them to constantly remember inevitability of death in whatever they do in life as every deed on earth will be accounted for in the hereafter.
Dan-Borno told the mammoth crowd at the gathering that no one should expect to be reciprocated in anything good one does on earth, warning that doing so will be a reproach in the sight of God.
At the special prayer led by the Chief Imam of Ilorin, Dr Mohammad Bashir Solihu, the renowned Islamic leader, also enjoined politicians to stop paying evil with evil. In a veiled reference to the saying of Mahatma Gandhi, “An eye for an eye will make the world blind”, the cleric cautioned that taking revenge for being unfairly treated would escalate situation.
“All of us are here praying and mourning even after four years of (Abubakar Olusola) Saraki, that simply typifies that he was a good man on earth. This is very rare among politicians.
“But it is sufficient to admonish you on two things to live a good and successful life. As a politician that is entrusted with the mandate of the people, you have to put Almighty God first. We should also remember that death is the ultimate end of every living soul, no matter who you are.
“May I also remind you that you should not expect to be reciprocated for whatever kind gesture you extended to fellow human being. You must not also because somebody had done evil to you and decide to take back your own pound of flesh. That is not what the holy book taught us. We must be good to everyone, not because of religion or political affiliations”.
Dan-Borno urged political office holders to make life comfortable for the people as the current economic crisis is yet to abate.
Other dignitaries at the prayer session were Chairman, Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and Financial Institutions, Senator Rafiu Adebayo Ibrahim; Senator Mohammed Shaba Lafiagi; two members of the House of Representatives, Hon Razak Atunwa and Dr Abubakar Amuda Kannike; Ambassadorial nominee, Professor Mohammed Gana Yisa; erstwhile Ambassador to the Royal Kingdom of Netherlands, Dr (Mrs) Nimotallahi Nihinlola Akanbi, top government functionaries and members of political class.