Guest Column By Aminu Mustapha Ibrahim
By Aminu Mustapha Ibrahim
The current trend in Kwara politics largely represented by the seeming feud between the Kwara state governor, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, on one hand and the former Senate president, Bukola Saraki, on the other, has not only dominated national political discourse in recent times, it also equally attracted various comments as well as deliberate peace initiatives, particularly by those who perceive the issue largely from the perspective of a personal misunderstanding, or even a resurfacing of an aged-old family rivalry between the two notable kwarans.
It is instructive to note that, in their bid to seek for and win public sympathy on the matter, build, as it is, around the state government’s recent demolition and revocation, or is it reclamation of the Arugbo land that allegedly legally belong to the late DR Olusola Saraki, the godfather of kwara politics, and which by virtue of right of inheritance, now automatically passed on to his family, the Sarakis have consistently articulated and presented the case as basically an expression of dispute between the sitting governor and the former senate president that has absolutely nothing to do with the legal status of the land in question. In their attempt to build, perfect and present their defence to the public, the Sarakis have left no stone ubnturned in creating the impression that, by his action over the land matter, the governor is simply trying to, by way of inappropriate deployment of the apparatus of state policy, democratically entrusted to him, settle a score through an act of deliberate victimisatim and witch-hunt.
However, as for the Kwara state government, presided over by governor Abdulrazaq, the reclaimation of Arugbo, that seems to serve as the basis of the dispute, represents but an imperative step the government has embarked upon, consequent upon a petition the state house of Assembly claimed to have independently received, investigated and discovered to have substance. According to the investigation said to have been conducted by the state house of Assembly, based on a petition, the Arugbo land was originally acquired by the administration of the late Lawal Mohammed, a former governor of the state exclusively reserved for the expansion of the state secretariat clinic but was eventually, under mysterious circumstances, hijacked and annexed by the late Godfather of Kwara politics, who deployed it largely as a base for extending handout to the poor and the downtrodden. Based on this account, despite the considerable number of years that had elapsed, since the late Olusolo Saraki had purportedly annexed and converted the land into his private property, not an iota of attempt was made by the Saraki family to officially legitimize its acquisition of the property through a legal title; particularly as it failed to present any in justification of its claim.
Besides the legal as well as political imbroglio generated by the issue of who legitimately owns the Arugbo piece of land, however, it is, indeed, obvious that the embattled senate president, Dr Bukola Saraki, is equally engaged with the state government, on several other fronts, over his questionable ownership of a multiplicity of other landed property he allegedly inappropriately acquired while he held sway as two term governor of the state, from 2003-2011. Amongst the allegations being leveled against his anointed successor, Abdulfatai Ahmed, for instance, is the one that centers around his questionable disposal of over one hundred (100) landed properties that belong to the state government, to himself and his cronies over which the sitting governor has decided to investigate through constitution of an independent commission of enquiry.
Furthermore, there also exists the related issue of the alleged inappropriate conversion or rather annexation of close to twenty (20) government parastatals and angencies by the former senate president over the eight year period he remained in office.
There exist, of course, other wide range of accusations of impropriety allegedly perpetrated by the former senate president, when he was in office as governor, many of which had been trending in the social as well as in other media within public domain.
It is instructive to note that many of these allegations are as weighty as they are equally many. It is also significant to note that, many of the allegations had been and had remained within the public domain long before governor Abdulrazaq came into office.
while it can be reasonably argued to some degree, that the federal might must have contributed to the seeming sudden collapse of the Saraki dynasty in Kwara, no one in his/her senses can deny the crucial role played by the prolonged years of misgovernance perpetrated by the dynasty while it held sway over the state politics and economy, as constituting the long term cause for the emergence of the recent movement popularly termed as o-to-ge, which has finally swept away the dynasty.
In other words, this is to say that, every revolution that takes place, has its long term as well as immediate causes and that in this case, the long term causes of the E-to-ge revolutionary movement can be traced to the several years of acts of mis governance perpetrated by the Saraki dynasty, against the good people of Kwara, the preponderant majority of whom in the process, were virtually transformed into beggars, collecting only alms from members of the dynasty, who have in effect succeeded in reducing their state, despite its vast potentials, to one of the least developed in the country.
As a matter of fact, the readiness and the enthusiasm with which the vast majority of Kwarans reacted to the o-to-ge movement was but a clear indication of not only the level of misgovernance and exploitation they were hitherto subjected to but also, of their desire and indeed, eagerness for a radical transformation capable of emancipating their state from the clutches and Yoke of those who for years, had conceived of and treated, it as a virtual fiefdom.
It is a matter of historical coincidence and of course, irony that the current governor of Kwara state who, in effect, symbolizes, and is now officially, mandated to concretise, the legitimate desire and aspirations of Kwarans for change also happens to be a member of the Abdulrazaq family, popularly known in Kwara to be keenly locked in competition and at times, rivalry with the Saraki family. This of course, informs why any slightest move by the governor, no matter how well intentioned and focused, tends to be easily misinterpreted to mean an act of victimization or witch – hunt or both. This in effect, explains the predicament of governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, who, on one hand, is mandated by his people to set in motion a reform process, aimed at dismantling a status-quo that held his people in bondage for long, but who, also, at the same time, is liable to be misunderstood and even blackmailed, for whatever little action or steps he embarks upon to right the wrong, as a necessary precondition to deliver on his mandate.
This precarious situation, in which the governor finds himself, however, is not, in anyway, unique to him as a leader committed to and above all, mandated to bring about, change, more so, as every other reformer tends to be confronted with a similar, if not exactly the same, scenario of having to contend with social forces whose interests are most often than not, diametrically opposed to each other. What is considered as paramount, however, is for such leaders to develop a clear cut vision, well articulated and laudable policies and programmes of action about what they set out to achieve, as well as remain largely focused. They must always bear in mind that their primary responsibility is to serve the greatest good of the greatest majority and that this must be accomplished no matter whose OX is gored.
For, as a matter of fact, for governor Abdulrazaq to meaningfully and successfully execute his mandate, he must step on toes and in this case, he must step particularly on the toes of the Sarakis who, for a prolonged period, succeeded in building and operating a dynasty that profoundly, shaped the history and destiny of Kwarans. In other words, for the governor to succeed and thus seen to have succeeded, he must embark on a consistent, systematic and relentless policies that may seemingly tend to work towards a complete de-sarakinisation of the political, economic as well as social affairs of Kwara state and its people, while simultaneously remaining focused on the essence of his mandate as a democratically elected governor and father of all.
As for the former senate president, it does not appear to be enough and indeed, cannot serve his long term interest, to attempt to becloud or reduce the issue to simply one of settling scores, or victimization or witch – hunt or whatever, since considering his eight consecutive years of stewardship, as executive governor of the state, coupled with another eight years of his anointed successor, he cannot conceivably pretend that not an iota of impropriety was committed within this lengthy period to warrant a probe or whatever. Moreover, it is also the case that, in whatever step the governor has taken so far, he (Saraki) has been given the right of fair hearing, which, of course, constitutes an integral component of the rule of law as enshrined in the constitution.