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The Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) in Kwara State under the leadership of former Senate President, Bukola Saraki appears to be taking things easy since it lost power to the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the last general elections. ADEKUNLE JIMOH reports that leading lights of the former ruling party appear to have taken a break from politics


FORMER Senate President Bukola Saraki received a heroic welcome from associates and supporters when he returned to Ilorin, Kwara State capital, at the weekend. Saraki was in the town for the 8th year memorial prayer of his late father, Dr. Olusola Saraki. He was said to have reconciled with his sister Gbemisola Saraki, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Minister of State for Transport.

Saraki, also a former governor of Kwara and leader of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) in Kwara State, had been away from the state for a long time. While he was away, the PDP had been trying to come to terms with the shocking defeat it suffered from the APC in the last general elections in the state. The APC campaign during the election, dubbed Otoge or “Enough is enough”, appeared to resonate with the people and eventually dealt a debilitating blow on the hitherto seemingly impregnable Saraki dynasty.

The defeat was with a big bang as relics of the Saraki’s political dynasty are still in tartars. Supporters, associates, loyalists and followers of the heir apparent to the dynasty Bukola Saraki have since been in the limbo.

The chanting of sai Waziri, sai Bukola, sai Saraki has all been drowned by that of sai Rahmani, Otoge and Iseya which were the battle cry for the APC campaign.

What impact will his return to Kwara have on the fortunes of the PDP? Since his defeat, Saraki appeared to have taken a leave from politics. This attitude has virtually turned many of his followers and loyalists into political orphans. Little wonder, great many of them are daily clamouring for his return from his long vacation outside the country.

The immediate past Governor AbdulFatah Ahmed’s whereabout is equally unknown. His impact is not being felt in the running of Kwara PDP chapter. He also appears to have distanced himself from the once-powerful network of structure that the Saraki dynasty was known for, by refusing to oil the political machinery.

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The fact that he has kept a safe distance from the state confirms the allegations in certain quarters that the demystification of the Saraki dynasty was informed by his actions and inactions when he was in office as governor.

Some even argued that the former governor’s failed senatorial ambition was occasioned by his lacklustre approach to the PDP 2019 campaigns in the run-up to the elections.

Some political observers have argued that Senator Saraki is no longer funding the party. This perhaps suggests the era of free government money is over for him.

The former Senate President’s staunch followers and supporters are of the view that the maverick politician is still attending to their needs and aspirations but unannounced.

Despite his absence, Saraki has deemed it fit to lend his voice of caution during the #EndSARS protests that cumulated in the looting of both public and private properties in the state.

He said: “I have observed that despite the curfew declared by the State Government in response to the ongoing anger across the state, people are defying the stay-at-home order and still moving round to attack public and private properties.

“I hereby appeal to all Kwarans to please cooperate with the state government and comply with the directives to remain calm, eschew violence and stay at home in compliance with the curfew.

“Irrespective of the obvious mistakes that must have fueled this anger, we must give the government the opportunity to correct itself.

“We must avoid anarchy in our dear State of Harmony. As Kwarans, violence is not our nature. I plead with all our people not to allow our state to be turned into a battleground or a lawless society.

“May Almighty Allah continue to bless Kwara State and its entire peace-loving people.”

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The former son of the late godfather of Kwara State politics was reported to be back in the country. It was gathered that his silence is deliberate, so as not heat up the polity.

One of his aides, Abdulganiyu Abdulqadir said that “the former President of the Senate Bukola Saraki returned to Nigeria amidst fanfare as cheerful loyalists of the Waziri Ngeri of Ilorin Emirate took various social media platforms to celebrate his arrival.

“Contrary to the fake news peddled by a faceless person, to dent the name of the former president of the 8th Senate, Saraki was never admitted in any hospital on malaria or any related COVID-19 symptoms in the Netherlands or any part of the world.

“It is sad how people have become creative with fake news to the extent of simulating a scenario in their heads with the sole aim of misleading the public. Quoting an unnamed governor already shows the intent of the fake news peddler.

“The former Senate President returned back to Nigeria, hale and hearty, and was in a cheerful mood as seen in the video that has gone viral online. He also complied with COVID-19 protocols at the airport.

“Whoever is afraid of Saraki’s presence should calm their nerves. Saraki is not the judge of the performance of the present administration in Kwara but the people. Hence, there is no point in feeling threatened by his return to Nigeria.

“Saraki, as a major stakeholder in Kwara State and in Nigeria polity, can visit the state any time and make comments on any issue. Saraki has, on his own volition, given (Governor) Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq enough time and space to deliver on his campaign promises without having to look behind his back at all times.

“Why must anybody be disturbed by the fear that Saraki’s presence in the country constitutes a threat to their ‘enjoyment’ and maladministration?”

But PDP Chairman, Kola Shittu said that the party has been visible, vibrant and playing its roles as a major opposition party in the state. He said: “If you say the PDP has not been visible, it means you have not been following our activities. We are very active. We have been in the news on daily basis. Where the present administration has not been performing we always highlight it. We have been playing our roles as the opposition. We don’t just criticize.

“We make sure we point out the anomalies of the current government for the administration to adjust for the overall benefit of Kwarans. That is what we have been doing.

“The PDP appears not to be visible as there is no election around the corner. We are working internally to ensure that our members are happy and to ensure that we mobilize people more to join our party. By the time an election is about to take place—let say local government election- that is when you will see the visibility of party members all around the places.”

Shittu urged the AbdulRazaq-led administration to fulfil its campaign promises to Kwarans. His words: “The government should fulfil the promises he made to the electorate while campaigning. The promises include payment of the new minimum wage to civil servants and youth employment. The government also promised to complete certain projects in education and health within one year in office. They should complete the Kwara State University (KWASU) satellite campuses in Osi and Ilesa-Baruba in Kwara South and Kwara North respectively.”