As the responses below show, my last week’s tribute to the late Abubakar Olusola Saraki elicited a mixture of praise and disappointment. While some people loved it, others thought I hushed up the man’s shortcomings. Well, I didn’t set out to write a disinterested personality profile of the late Saraki; my object was to reminisce about my first-hand meeting with him as a way to remind us of an element of his personality that contributed to his wild popularity in Kwara State.
Thank you. Our countrymen, regrettably, often forget the art of grace at solemn moments like this. From the outside looking in, one saw the Saraki mystique gradually collapse, essentially through bar-room gossip. Your article brought us back to how we, non-Kwarans, were introduced to the legend by Kwara people themselves, before the deadly PHD [Pull Him Down] virus took root in Nigerian politics. Whatever Kwarans decide to do to the memory of this great Nigerian, the Oloye can rest assured that his place in the history books, as a bridge-builder between the so-called North and South, is written and indelible.
Ogbuagu Anikwe, Abuja
Truly, Saraki was commendable knowing full well that there is no human being without shortcomings. May Allah grant him Aljanah Firdaus. He has played his part and others should continue from there. Your tribute was a master piece.
Abdullahi Kabir, Ilorin
I read the column about your last encounter with Saraki. I was impressed and I feel touched in my heart about the late legend. As a person from Kwara north, specifically Kaiama, my perception that we have been marginalised by the Saraki's reduced after reading your piece. The fact is that no one is perfect except God. May Allah grant him eternal rest and forgive him his shortcomings.
Nurudeen Idris, Kaiama, Kwara State
I enjoyed your column. In your last interview with Dr Saraki in Abuja you asked him about the rumour in Ilorin that he had designs to make his first son as the next governor of Kwara State. The allegation was made by (the late Kwara State Governor) Mohammed Lawal’s political loyalists, but Saraki denied the allegation. Shortly after d interview, Saraki called you and asked whether you had published the interview and you said no. He finally asked you not to publish it. The reason was that some good people of Ilorin met him and said they wanted his first son, Dr Bukola Saraki, to aspire for the post of governor in the state and there was nothing he could do but agree with them. The rumour he had denied became reality.
I believe you are aware of the 2011 governorship election in Kwara State where the same Dr Saraki designed his daughter, Gbemi, as the next governor of the state. Is it the same good people of Ilorin who brought such a decision to him again? That is what I don’t understand.
Muhammed Yusuf, Abuja
I’m somehow disappointed in your piece today. It’s full of one-wheel-narration, which actually disequate Saraki’s outer personality. Anyway, Africans believe to be preserving culture that upholds such doctrines as ``PRAISE THE DESEASED, OR KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT. `` Allah ya jikan sa.
Ibrahim Aliyu Maisango, Media Rights Agenda, Kano
Upon hearing of his transition, I swung into a state of mixed feelings on what kind of personality he might have been, with a leading suspicion that he might have been a good person. Eventually, the calibre of personalities and the condolence messages that followed his death reinforced my positive thoughts about him. I am pleased we are extolling a genuine virtue in a man.
Abdulmalik Mustapha Abbamaina, Maiduguri
Glowing tributes! I have heard a lot about the Kwara strongman, both good and bad, as is common with most leaders, but one thing that cannot be taken away from him is the great impact he had in Kwara politics and Nigeria at large. May Almighty Allah forgive his shortcomings and grant him Al-janat Firdausi. Amen.
Aisha Nana Mohammed, Minna
One thing that cannot be taken from the late Oloye is generosity. May Allah reward him with Aljanat Firdaus. Ameen.
Aminu Isa, Lokoja
This is a beautifully-written tribute. I enjoyed your recounting of your encounters with him. I especially enjoyed the beauty of your language, which is one of the reasons I never fail to read you. Saraki was certainly a phenomenon. He was generous and cared about people. That much is clear from the hold he had on Kwara politics. I don’t think your people followed him in every election from the Second Republic to now because they were stupid. I am inclined to think that it was because they thought he cared about them and had their best interest at heart. Few politicians in Nigerian commanded that much trust in their people for such a long time.
However, in your beautiful eulogy, you failed to point out that by wanting his daughter to succeed his son as governor, he squandered the goodwill he built for years. He may not have plotted his son’s emergence as governor of Kwara State, as you told us, but he was clearly in the forefront of wanting his daughter to be governor. That was an insult on the people of your state who trusted and believed in him. I thought you would have brought out that fact. To be fair to you, though, you said he had many “foibles.” I guess you didn’t want to stray from the African tradition of never speaking ill of the dead.
Sabi’u Umar, Kano
My Last Encounter with Saraki
My Last Encounter with Saraki