To be responsible, you have to be a Saraki

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By Abdulwahab Tajudeen

“Your Royal Highness, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, the task before us is enormous. It is not that which can be finished in the first hundred days, nor will be finished in the first year, nor in the life of this administration. But let us agree to start now.”

“Fellow Kwarans. I feel a great sense of urgency to achieve this agenda. It may not be the best of times, but it is our time, and this is our State. This is the time we have. Let us all accept that we need to make sacrifices and to work hard. Let us collectively resolve to build a lasting foundation for tomorrow and a new sound future for our children.”

Reading these two paragraphs as a young boy years ago signalled the end of what I called a torturous adventure. The year was 2003, and Dr Bukola Saraki was the new governor of Kwara State. As a young boy, I had a lot going on in my life at that time; my mummy just gave birth to my second sibling; I had 1st position from Nursery One, which meant I would have a double promotion to Primary One without stepping foot at Nursery Two and the bitter icing on the cake, I had to move in with my grandfather to allow my mother have enough rest and recuperate from childbirth.

My grandfather, a disciplinarian, a lover of books, my source of history and age-long anecdotes, made it a compulsory evening task that I read the new governor’s inaugural speech. I was not a good reader then, but still, my grandfather never pardoned me for a single evening without reading the speech. Little did I know he was preparing for the hurdles ahead. From my grandfather, I learned not to be complacent in victory as I learned how to read Dr Bukola Saraki’s inaugural speech, and I can say that was my first connection with him.

His speech was used as a punishment to sharpen my reading ability, as his personality was used to give me an example of how to be a man.

My grandfather will say to be responsible; you have to be a Saraki, going into the deep meaning of the name. He was not totally wrong, given that he is a lover of Saraki (père) and believes the best he could employ in words to make my mind prepared for the future ahead was using the name on every man’s lips.

The first time I would set my eyes on Dr Saraki, it was a different feeling from others. In contrast, they were waiting for him to commission the first pipe-borne water in my hometown of Warrah-Oja, and there I was, waiting to see the man my grandfather had been forcing me to read.

Gentle and giant with giggles that make him a different personality in my sight. Here is the man; he’s tall with lofty ambitions, and my brain goes: I must be tall like him, with ambitions, and I must always hold my wife close to myself as he does for his wife today. For ambitions and wife, I’m still much on track in pursuit of my happiness, but for the tall height like him, I lost after an uncountable number of bean bowls.

And the man started his work in harness. Bringing to reality almost all he promised in his inaugural speech. Under his watch, we saw a peaceful and prosperous Kwara in terms of security, civil servants’ welfare, educational reforms/construction of classrooms and establishment of the first state university, healthcare services (establishment of Kwara Diagnostic Centre), rural electrification and improvements of energy supply in urban areas, construction of first flyover and many other roads across the state, the establishment of aviation college, mechanised agriculture, Sports and Youth Development, putting the state on the national radar while ending youth violence that was synonymous with the Kwara at the time.

It is safe to say Saraki is the architect of modern Kwara. It is more reasonable to note the part in his inaugural speech where he said: “…it is not that which can be finished in the first hundred days, nor will be finished in the first year, nor in the life of this administration. But let us agree to start now. It may not be the best of times, but it is our time, and this is our State. This is the time we have. Let us all accept that we need to make sacrifices and to work hard. Let us collectively resolve to build a lasting foundation for tomorrow and a new sound future for our children.”

Such is the man with visions for this state; even with his obvious flaws, like every other human, he is always putting the state first. Win or lose, Saraki’s emotions for the state cannot be overlooked.

There is no denying the sterling leadership of Abubakar Bukola Saraki to the landmark developments of our state, country and democracy. By your next birthday, as I wrote on your last birthday, sir, it would be a great delight to give the young ones a copious representation – a book – of your journey in career and leadership. This, I believe, will not only allow you to tell your story(ies) but give thriving youth the opportunity to learn from your experiences.

And till you meet the young boy that whets his reading ability with your speech now in his immaculate maturity one day, I say, Omo Baba Oloye, the Waziri of Ilorin, happy 60th birthday. You are loved from here, and it’s foundational. I’ve had issues with your people, your decisions and your choice of leadership — not as a whole — but your alluring personality cannot be ignored. You are an inspiration for me and many, no doubt and you are loved; I repeat. Live long, Leader of leaders.

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