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After ‘Otooge,’ Saraki’s aged voters stuck in suspense

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NASS leader, Saraki. Photo/Twitter/NGRSenate

Barely two months after the political climate in Kwara State experienced the tsunami of otoge, which saw to the demolition of the Senator Bukola Saraki’s political empire, one of the numerous groups of persons that seem to be hard hit is the one under the nomenclature of the aged women, ‘obinrin arugbo’.
 
It could be recalled that the outgoing president of Senate, who lost out in all the elective positions in the 2019 polls, had in the last 16 years been the rallying point for numerous aged women in the state, especially in Ilorin, the capital city. 

The Senate President actually ‘inherited’ these category of persons aged from 60 to 85 from his late father, Olusola Saraki, popularly called Oloye, the political colossus to have emerged from the modern day Kwara. 

  
Numbering a little more than 2,000, the old women had formed the bedrock of the electoral successes of the Saraki political dynasty within the past two and a half decades.

So influential and strategic were these senior citizens that Oloye had to construct a political square christened Ile Arugbo (the house for the aged) for them.
  
They served as sensors for political pundits each time many a politician was in Ilorin with their locusts-like movement to and from the Ileloke residence of the Sarakis. They were usually lined up periodically by the Saraki’s who dished instructions to cronies to dole out crisp naira notes to them. That was just as they were on several occasions also beneficiaries of rolls of cloths, food stuffs and slots for pilgrimages to both Jerusalem and Saudi Arabia.

Their time to reciprocate those gestures happen to be during elections, when the aged women receive voter education at Ile Arugbo, as to how and where to cast their votes. This way they subsequently return block votes to the Sarakis.

Alternative reality
NOW that Saraki has lost out on all fronts, the question on the lips of many is, will he be able to sustain the gestures or not or will these women be left to grope in the dark until when political powers could probably revert to the dynasty someday? 
 
An aide to the Senate president, Suleiman Yusuf, told The Guardian in Ilorin: “The heart of our political leader (Saraki) is constantly with the aged women and men alike.  He is a benevolent politician. In any case, has any of these women come to you to complain of any neglect by the leader? 
 
“Whether or not in political power, Saraki will not abandon any of his supporters, including these aged ones. He does what he is doing for them without any strings attached unlike some Nigerian politicians. We should therefore expect the continuation of what is good from our leader.”
  
However, a stalwart of the state chapter of All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Femi Yusuf, said the governor elect, Alhaji AbdulRahaman AbdulRasak, would, in line with the dictates of a Chinese proverb, “teach the aged how to fish without stress rather than giving them crumbs that could not wet their appetite.”
  
It is obvious from the unfolding political realities in Kwara that the people would have a unique opportunity to compare and contrast the emerging leadership style with what they are used to under the Saraki dynasty. The rating game starts on May 29, 2019. 


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