Wednesday, 7th June 2023

Bukola Saraki: Profile Of An Ambitious Political Gatekeeper

By Ikenna Onyekwelu
03 May 2015   |   6:19 am
ABUBAKAR Bukola Saraki is a product of privilege and pomp. As a child, Saraki got the best of everything: A wealthy parental background and Ivy League academic upbringing both in Nigeria and abroad


ABUBAKAR Bukola Saraki is a product of privilege and pomp. As a child, Saraki got the best of everything: A wealthy parental background and Ivy League academic upbringing both in Nigeria and abroad.

Neither rain nor shine has ever tormented his skin. Though, he graduated and briefly practiced medicine overseas, at a very young age when most of his colleagues were still pounding the streets to find a definite path to their career and future, Saraki returned to a plum banking job in Nigeria and from there continued his upward mobility without looking back.

Perhaps, on account of this privilege, Saraki looks up constantly and looks down on a lot of things. At 27, Saraki was already an executive director in a commercial bank.

It was from that lofty position that he was appointed special assistant in the Presidency on budget. It was also from that corridor of presidential power that he sought and won the election into the post of Executive Governor of Kwara State in 2003.

Senator Saraki shares the same name with his father, Oloye Abubakar Olusola Saraki. In 2007, when he was seeking a second term in office as Governor, the young Saraki did not wince in his attempt to take on his father in a political muscle flexing.

It is on record that before his death, the elder Saraki shifted political base with his daughter, Gbemisola, to another political platform, due to the overbearing influence of the younger Saraki.

At a cursory look, Saraki’s initials, ABS, conveys the same idea as that of an automatic breaking system usually inscribed on automobiles with such facility. Yet, in Kwara politics, ABS, has been behaving as a showstopper and political gatekeeper.

Against his father’s designs and desire, ABS threw up and supported a different candidate to succeed him in office in 2011. And while he was engaged in that political show of bravado at home in Kwara, ABS, aspired to the office of Nigeria’s President.

Though, the consensus experiment embarked upon by the political stakeholders of northern Nigeria did not recognise him as a candidate to represent the geopolitical area in political leadership of the country, ABS sought and got elected into the Senate to represent Kwara Central Senatorial district. And prior to assuming his seat in the Senate in 2011, ABS surrogated his office as the Chairman of Nigeria Governors’ Forum, (NGF) to Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State.

Like his father who was the Senate Leader in Nigeria’s Second Republic, ABS was gearing up to play the role of political generalissimo on the national turf! But despite the fact of his acquisition of the traditional title of Turaki, midway into his first term in the Red Chamber, allegations of past financial misdeeds began to fly about.

Having crossed over to the All Progressives Congress, (APC) like his other soul companions in the newPDP, Senator Saraki secured another victory to serve the people of Kwara Central Senatorial zone in the Senate for a second term.

It is this prospect of another term in the Red Chamber that has propelled ABS with the lofty ambition to occupy the seat of President of Senate.

But there are roadblocks. Already an anti-corruption group, Citizens Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL), has put together reasons why the new Oloye of Kwara politics should not be allowed to succeed Senator David Alechenu Mark.

The group believes that Saraki’s past, which includes scary details of the operation and ownership of Societe General Bank of Nigeria Limited; do not commend his present ambition.

CACOL also disclosed how the former Kwara State Governor had been “using legal gymnastics to frustrate efforts by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to make him account for the alleged conversion of such public property like Songhai Farms, Kwara Cargo Terminal and Kwara Metro Park into personal use.”

While it may not be just the question of alleged integrity deficit that haunt Senator Saraki, in his recent ambition to be President of Nigeria’s Senate, his politics would also come into very sharp focus.

Those who have come close to the politician say that Saraki has a distasteful and arrogant swagger about him, a trait he was said to have demonstrated tremendously when he was governor of Kwara State.

He is also said to consider his positions and appointments based on what personal benefits he could derive from such.

For instance his decision to foist Governor Ahmed Abdul Fatai, who was a long serving staff of SGBN as his successor, was primarily to service his fiscal and political targets. Making the former Commissioner for Finance in administration, Governor was seen as a crafty way of getting necessary cover after his exit from office.

Though most people in Kwara expressed serious reservations over Saraki the elder’s desire for his daughter to succeed his son, Saraki the younger rubbed in his disdain for Kwara tradition and values further by selecting Fatai, who was not only a political upstart but also a reclusive character.

Further in his fangled obsession for unquestioning loyalty, ABS was said to have taken his protégé to Umrah to ensure that he deposes to a pledge of non-rebellion. But the effect of the vaulting ambition of Saraki would be seen when the 8th National Assembly is proclaimed.

At the election of floor functionaries, the plan by APC chieftain to sideline the Turaki of Kwara would entail a possible replay of similar rebellion that saw to Aminu Tambuwal’s emergence as Speaker of the chamber below.

His protégé in the NGF, Amaechi who served as Director General of the APC Presidential Campaign Organisation is pushing for a Saraki candidacy to succeed Mark.

Yet given ABS cheeky public display of arrogance as he differed with the President-elect over his position that public declaration of assets is a veritable way of waging war against corruption, APC elders are wont to check his excesses.

Consequently, when the party pushes forward its preferred candidate for the position of President of Senate, Saraki and his co-travelers would line behind Mark to call the bluff of the upcoming ruling party.

And General Buhari, who seems to have noted the impudence and self-serving arrogance of Senator Saraki, voiced his preference for a candidate free of any corruption baggage to occupy the topmost seat in the Senate.

It is expected that by the time election of floor functionaries are won and lost, ABS may likely chew on his rejection by the North during the consensus candidate consideration in 2011 and manifest the full display of the character of a frustrated ambitious political gatekeeper! At least ABS’s desire to use the Presidency of the Senate as a launching pad to renew his ambition to be Nigeria’s president, seem to have crossed the political radar of entrenched power centres in APC. It is left to be seen how Saraki’s ambition would prove that desperation is never a positive aspect of political sagacity!