, [OPINION]:How Bukola Saraki Underdeveloped Kwara North by Ahmed Usman Babakano -

[OPINION]:How Bukola Saraki Underdeveloped Kwara North by Ahmed Usman Babakano


The demand for equity, fairness and justice in the political landscape in Kwara state gained popular support in fall, 2018 as the 2019 general elections gathered momentum even amongst the people of Kwara Central who identified with the push for equal opportunities for the tripartite arrangement upon which the state had existed since the return of democratic rule in 1999.

The agitation for power shift in 2019 reached a crescendo after Kwara Central had occupied the coveted seat for 12 straight years and Kwara South for another 8 years which means the two senatorial districts had shared the governorship seat for twenty consecutive years without any consideration for Kwara North.

The above background is important as to understanding the basis for this expose about how Kwara was ruled and looted by the crumbled dynasty at the detriment of Kwara North.

Former Governor Bukola Saraki was introducedto Kwara politics by his late father, the highly respected philanthropist and politician of high repute, Dr. Olusola Saraki on whose popularity and support base as a Second Republic politician he rode on to serve as a two terms governor between 2003 and 2011. The senior Saraki was at the time the strongest man as far as political decisions on who became what in Kwara was concerned. But as the popular saying goes, everything has its appointed time and the younger Saraki would go on to succeed his father’s political structure across the state.

One of the first things Bukola Saraki did as a governor to underdeveloped Kwara North was a rehabilitation initiative his government introduced in 2005 to give secondary schools in the Ilorin metropolis a face-lift to the exclusion of the ones found in Kwara North. I wouldn’t know if such schools in Kwara South received similar upgrades. This was a deliberate attempt to deny the good people of Kwara North access to quality education, an unpatriotic move that attracted public outcry by the time he was leaving office in 2011 as schools across the senatorial district were already in dilapidated states. GSS Ilorin, Bishop’s Smith Memorial College, Sheik Abdulkadir College were some of the schools that went through rehabilitation during his first term in office. A brief visit to Government Technical College, Patigi; a technical college that was established in the ’70s to train its young people in technical and skills acquisition programmes will confirm how Kwara has been subjected to coordinated torture. The school is now desolate with nothing to show for the purpose for which it was established. The founding fathers will be sad at the sight of the facility that could have created thousands of jobs had it been a top priority for the Sarakis who held sway for 16 years and reduced the increasing rate of unemployment in the region. The impoverishment is deliberate, there is no denying this fact. Going to Ilorin today, the highest number of okada riders are of Nupe extraction with most of them having no formal education. Neither of the schools in Edu LGA were renovated during the period under review, leaving the schools in ruins. Not in Lafiagi, Tsaragi nor Tsonga.

Not long after a number of secondary schools within Kwara Central were renovated by the Saraki administration, the driver of Kwara politics orchestrated another move to further make Kwara North unproductive as it appeared from all indications that Bukola Saraki was averse to any form of development having supported his re-election bid. The only higher institution in the whole of Kwara North, Kwara State College of Education (Technical), Lafiagi was next on his list of casualties. The year was 2008 and Bukky had concluded plans to move the institution out of Lafiagi back to Ilorin where virtually all the higher institutions in the state are located. His weak and untenable argument was that the proposed Kwara State University will have its Faculty of Agriculture in Lafiagi in place of the institution. The move generated outrage as Kwara Northerners from all walks of life condemned the decision to move out the only higher education facility in the senatorial district.

Bolaji Abdullahi who is the Kwara Central Senatorial Candidate of the PDP in the 2023 elections was the Education Commissioner who was used as a front to prosecute their evil plans against the people of Kwara North.

It took the interventions of the late Emir of Lafiagi, HRH Alhaji Sa’adu Kawu Haliru, the then Chief Imam, late Sheik Haruna and members of the Lafiagi Descendants Development Union(LADDU) who had to travel to Ilorin where they presented their arguments for the revocation of the decision to move the institution. But that was how the woes of the staff members started as his administration and the successive administration of AbdulFatah Ahmed denied the school all benefits accrued to it. All in an attempt to undermine its importance and deny Kwara Northerners access to the easiest higher education at their doorstep.

Are you still in doubt that the so-called Kwara North agenda is a wild goose chase? Take this from me, if the opposition People’s Democratic Party on whose platform SY Abdullahi is contesting the governorship seat today by chance wins the governorship race in 2023( note IF), it will change nothing in Kwara North. The friends you keep define who you are. Those who are riding on Saraki’s platform today will soon come to the realization that the proxy war against Kwara North is a generational inheritance to keep the people of Kwara North underrepresented and ensure that the region remains underdeveloped.

It was the same Bukola Saraki that frustrated the Federal takeover of the COE(T), Lafiagi while serving as the Senate President. The National Assembly contingent from Kwara state, including Former Governor Mohammed Shaaba Lafiagi who represented Kwara North Senatorial District took orders from him on issues affecting and projects concerning their districts. And it was on this basis that the former senator couldn’t push through with the Federal takeover as the ‘general’ didn’t give him the nod to initiate such a motion that would have ensured more funds and more opportunities for the people of Kwara North. Bukola Saraki practically dictated the senatorial engagement and what project was facilitated to the district.

In any case, Kwara State University was founded by the Bukola Saraki administration at Malete in the northern part of Kwara in their estimation. Whenever I am in the Northern part of Kwara, I know. Malete is in Moro LGA which is under the direct rule of the Ilorin Emirate. The University is not in Kwara North, you can hardly count 10 staff members of the University from anywhere in Kwara North. The Vice Chancellors have always come from Kwara Central because it is their birthright, people from Kwara North are not educated enough to occupy such exalted positions. They are second class citizens. The location of the supposed Kwara State University does not in any way reflect inclusion as posited by the crumbled dynasty which said that the university is located in Kwara North. The only thing Northern till date about the university is the satellite campus that was sited at Ilesha-Baruba and yet to be operational even when his protégé, AbdulFatah Ahmed had succeeded him in 2011.

Recall also that the Former Speaker, KHA during the Fourth Republic in 1999, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Yisa whose name was nominated to serve on the board of the National Communications Commission was outrightly rejected by none other than Senate President Bukola Saraki in 2015. Benjamin Yisa is from Kpada district in Patigi LGA, tells you something about the rejection. Another nominee from Kwara Central would later serve on that board.

You’re not yet convinced that Bukola Saraki underdeveloped Kwara North with all these anti-people dealings? Okay, come with me…

During his tumultuous Senate Presidency while answering questions at the Code of Conduct Bureau between 2015 and 2019 until he was acquitted, the erstwhile Senate President mandated that all local government Chairmen alongside their Council Members mobilize themselves to Abuja in a brazen display of power on the home front. The resources used by those Chairmen and their Council Members were never sourced from heaven, it was the beginning of economic woes for local government staff members. For the larger part of that period, local government Chairmen in Kwara were frequent visitors to Abuja to support their demigod and strongman of Kwara politics; failure to join the bandwagon could result in sacking as their marching orders were signed before taking the jobs. Impunity, imposition and mediocrity reigned local government administration courtesy of the Former Governor whose overbearing influence had become a cog in the wheel of Kwara progress by the time he was leaving office as a governor in 2011.

Where is the Federal Medical Center that was to be sited at Tankpafu at the instance of Mrs. Sarah Nnadzwa Jibril while serving as a Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan? Senator Bukola Saraki made sure he frustrated the smooth take-off of that novel health facility in Kwara and hijacked its establishment because the people of Kwara North don’t deserve such good things in their lives.

Why then this Greek gift of a governorship seat after subverting our common wealth? What happened to 2019 when the people of the North agitated on a united front for it?

How can an individual who perpetrated all these evils against a district and its people claim to be their friend without recourse to the negative impact of his selfishness on those at the receiving end?

For the sake of emphasis, Bukola Saraki chose his successor and imposed him on Kwarans after an uninspiring eight years. He made his Finance Commissioner for eight years his successor for a reason. Former Governor AbsulFatah Ahmed was chosen as the preferred candidate to succeed him after hoodwinking Hon. Bio Ibrahim of Baruteninto believing that he will be given the slot. Huge amount of money purportedly exchanged hands between Bio and Bukola before the former was left in the cold. The same Bio Ibrahim who was treated unjustly and had the sympathy of his people is today hobnobbing with Saraki having been denied the Governorship seat for a second time.

AbdulFatah Ahmed, who got his leader’s nod to succeed him, was only a figurehead. Bukola Saraki the de facto Governor. He arrogatted so much power to himself that even his successor could do nothing tangible in his native Kwara South. Today, AbdulFatah Ahmed is just a random person in Kwara South because of the overbearing influence his godfather had on his tenure as a governor. Kwara South can be said to be better after 2019. It was that bad.

So what good are expecting from a governorship hopeful of Kwara North extraction that takes order from Bukola Saraki? He who pays the pauper dictates the tune.

Talking about the infrastructural deficits that we are battling today, Saraki cannot exonerate himself as his sympathizers are trying hard to do. The healthcare facilities were left in ruins, people could no longer access affordable healthcare services; the schools in decrepit conditions across Kwara North; the roads were no longer accessible and for well over a decade, there was no clean water from the government facility in Lafiagi. Efforts are underway by the current administration to fix this rot and many more across the senatorial district.

If for 16 years they had done their part, this administration would have forged ahead and consolidated on whatever success they might have recorded but it wasn’t about the people, it was about their pockets.

Government Secondary School Lafiagi is a huge beneficiary of this administration’s efforts to reposition the education sector in the state. You can go and verify this in Lafiagi.

I am invariably not happy at the thought of how the Senatorship Alhaji Shaaba Lafiagi was wasted for eight years. I don’t like talking about it given the opportunities that could have come our way in Kwara North, no thanks to Bukola Saraki who suppressed all efforts from the North to ensure it becomes a force to reckon with. No single bill to his name because of one mortal who thought he was untouchable. A whole lots would have changed for us in Kwara North but for Bukola Saraki’s grasp on the political landscape of Kwara State.

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