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Published On: Mon, Jul 28th, 2014

Sulaiman, the bridge builder from Kwara

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By Ali B. Wahab

Picking a ministerial nominee to fill the slot vacated by the sacked minister of sports, Bolaji Abdullahi, became so challenging.  Suddenly, the state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), could not just agree on who to put forward as its choice.  And just in a jiffy, a humble and humane university teacher, Dr. Abubakar Olanrewaju Sulaiman, a political scientist, youth cum political activist emerged from the scene by consensus.  Of course, the consensus is not as simplistic as it appears. Though some see him as a political novice, but his antecedents, are however  to the contrary.

Of course , President Goodluck Jonathan is at liberty to pick anyone of his choice as a minister, but he has chosen, nonetheless, to make the process open, transparent and democratic in order  not to rock the system, giving how sensitive and key the state is to his 2015  project.  So it was at the   July 9, 2014 meeting held in the Villa. The meeting overwhelmingly agreed on Alhaji Abu, as we fondly call him, with only Saraki dissenting.  While no one could fault the ex-female lawmaker for her position, it stands to reason that democracy played out and Saraki lost out to the majority. This in any way, is not to diminish her political fortune in the state. It is heartwarming to however hear that this university egghead took time to visit all these stakeholders at one time or the other while the process lasted, as a mark of support. It is also instructive to note that similar visit was also made to Senator Bukola Saraki, a supposed APC lawmaker and lawmaker representing Kwara Central where the minister comes from.

This, certainly, is politics without bitterness.  But one thing that is very sure is that irrespective of the forces that threw up this university lecturer, it stands out to reason that his acceptability as a bridge builder is not in doubt.  His dexterity at answering questions  at the Senate screening as well as the solidarity of the Senate’s North Central caucus are further testimonies of his acceptance as truly a bridge builder.  Besides, his open endorsement on the floor of the Senate by Bukola, also speaks volume of the minister’s reach and mileage in diplomacy.

 The reaction that greeted his choice back home in Kwara, is not only frenetic, but highly instructive of the expected wind of change to blow across the state in 2015.   Giving his profile as a community leader and mobiliser who has immensely, not only contributed to his immediate community but also the uplift of the entire Kwara state, one cannot expect a lesser performance from him. His warm conduct towards Kwarans, especially those seeking admission into the University of Abuja is one great plus that cannot be divorced at this point in time.  It is on record that in 1988/89, he provided the right leadership to the near comatose Ilorin Students Union (ISU) as it was then called, and also at different times, a respected voice within the PDP. This status fetched him rare opportunities to serve the party in one capacity or the other.

Ali B. Wahab wrote in from Ilorin

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