O’to Ge: When Will Saraki Stop Insulting Kwarans?

SIR: After being enthroned as governor in 2003, Bukola Saraki rose to become the Cappo Di Tutti—building the political and social system of the state around himself.

With widespread hunger and underdevelopment in the system, people began to question why many roads, hospitals, schools were left unfixed, and water problems which had gulped N6.5bn remained unsolved. On top of that, the welfare of the civil servants suffered: no promotion for workers; pensioners were not paid; and salaries came in late and half. It was the same story of woes from education to health, infrastructure, youths and women development. That was the beginning of the end.

In what many still describe as the landmark event of 2019, O’to ge defied all the odds to uproot the Saraki dynasty in Kwara.

The pent up anger against Saraki, which had built for years, only climaxed in 2019. It goes deeper than governance. It covered the cultural and social indignities which average Kwarans take exceptions to. It included the disrespect for traditional institutions, subjugation of elite forces and dehumanization that characterised his leadership. We cannot forget.

A good leader doesn’t rule, he serves. But Saraki lorded over Kwarans and made no pretence of it till the very end.

The outstanding Kwara men and women who had things to offer to the state were denied opportunities. Why? They were under a prebendal system which left no space for an average person to thrive. It is still fresh in the memory, the travails of our fathers Hon. Benjamin Ezekiel’s and Professor Oba AbdulRaheem. The former was debarred, while the latter had to go cap in hand for Saraki’s nod to secure legitimate federal appointments. Yet, these are a few instances of denial.

So, one would think that O’to ge would make Saraki and his supporters retrace their steps. Instead, he chose the loftiest of platforms, the national television of Arise TV on Tuesday, to insult more the sensibility of the people he claims to love.

“Elections have to do sometimes with sentiments or propaganda. If you come to Kwara today and talk to people, you’ll find that a lot of them will tell you that ‘we were sold lies and propaganda…we have made certain mistakes in following up the issues’ and that at the end of the day, they were better off then than now,” he replied to Mr Abati’s question on what lessons O’to ge have taught him.

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Apparently, he took no lessons. He would not admit they wronged the people. He’d not ask for forgiveness for all the years of suffering and hardship. To him, they did everything right. You may think that’s condescending. But the truth is Saraki would insult our people even more if he had more time!

He practically still does not have the hang of the issues. It is either he has not taken time to ruminate on their debilitating style of leadership and governance or do not see anything wrong with his history of dehumanising the people. If he did, he would not continue to stick to the unfounded belief that they were defeated by propaganda and lies. When will this man stop insulting us?

Was it propaganda that civil servants were being paid half salary? Was it false that Ahmed spent N6.5 billion without the water running? Was it propaganda that educational infrastructure decayed because they did not access the UBEC funds? Was it false that the state-owned tertiary institutions were shut down for more than six months? Was it propaganda that the primary health care centres were left to rot? Was it false that his leadership bred the indignity of young men and middle-aged women? There is none of these without at least a news story on it in the national dailies.

The average human being wants to be respected and valued. When he gets that, he wants to live in a system where he could ordinarily dream and realise it. He wants leadership that cherishes their common heritage and does everything to protect it. These were and still are not the values seen with Saraki’s leadership.

He continues to see Kwara as his fiefdom, which he would be reclaiming as the Crown prince. This was the same mindset he ruled with that brought him down. Kwara people abhor arrogance and greed. The people won’t forget this insult too and shall speak again when it is time. Indeed, a return from exile can never be taken for a rebirth. Time only wishes away mistakes, it doesn’t erase the sins.

Ibraheem Abdullateef,
Ilorin, Kwara State

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