Bukola Saraki, Hero Of Nigerian Politics
The man Bukola Saraki, a Muslim by religion, a medical doctor by profession, a politician, is a Hero of Nigerian Politics.
Born on 19th December 1962 to the family of Olusola Saraki, a senator (1979–1983) and a one time Senate Leader of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and his mother Florence Morenike Saraki. He had his education in King’s College, Lagos, from 1973 to 1978, and Cheltenham College in the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1981 for his High School Certificate. He then studied at the London Hospital Medical College of the University of London from 1982 to 1987 and obtained his M.B.B.S London.
His Career and Achievements:
1990 – 2000, he was a director of Société Générale Bank (Nig) Ltd.
In 2000, served as Special Assistant on Budget to President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Saraki also served on the Economic Policy Coordination Committee, where he was responsible for the formulation and implementation of several key economic policies for Nigeria.
Bukola Saraki became the Governor of Kwara State in the 2003 under the platform of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and was re-elected in 2007 for a second term.
He was said to have recorded a number of achievements in agriculture, health, education, finance and environment policies. These numbers of achievements were said to have been responsible for successive successes including his appointment as the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum.
Other notable and commendable achievements of Senator Bukola Saraki are:
Power generation and electricity
As governor Kwara state, Sarak in collaboration with the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, re-energised the Ganmo Power Station at Ilorin, and hooked over 3750 rural communities to the national grid through the development and installation of 725 transformers and 7 substations. He completed the Nigeria Independent Power Project, 4 electrification projects which made power relatively stable, thereby giving the people living in Kwara state a good access to electricity.
Primary health care On health programmes, he introduced statewide campaign in 2008 to reduce maternal and child mortality from malaria. This included distribution of insecticide-treated nets and free malaria drugs to pregnant mothers and children. A number of hospitals were built, refurbished, leading to the redevelopment of hospitals in Afon, Patigi and Lafiagi. Other measures included improved training and re-training for medical staff; and staff living quarters; and employment of qualified medical doctors and other health workers. Many of the primary care programmes were sponsored by international agencies such as WHO and UNICEF
Agriculture and farming
Saraki introduced agricultural policy reforms to increase the commercial viability of farming, and also the volume of exports to international markets. One of his major achievements was inviting displaced white farmers from Zimbabwe to farm in Kwara State and this led to the establishment of Shonga Farms programme, which is now being replicated across Nigeria.
Saraki led significant and statewide infrastructure development, including improvements in road construction, and development of new sporting facilities such as Kwara Football Academy and the Ilorin International Airport Cargo Terminal. Today, Kwara State has an enviable record of a logistics and cargo hub in Nigeria and the region.
Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum
Saraki became chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum in 2007. Under his tenure as Chairman of Governors’ Forum, he introduced a number of reforms including:
- A fully resourced secretariat, with a technical and administrative division that was entirely focused on delivery.
- The State Peer Review Mechanism were developed to ensure closer working and collaboration. This mechanism gave room for case studies to be shared between states including power projects, primary healthcare centres for villages and other viable rural projects including hospitals and schools which hitherto had remained undisclosed.
As a medical doctor, he ensured that the Forum developed better and more extensive polio immunisation in Nigeria. In 2011, he introduced the Immunisation Leadership Challenge Which was designed to reward states in Nigeria that made significant improvements in polio and routine immunisation coverage by the end of 2012. The overall objective was to fast-track achievement of the milestone of interrupting further transmission of the wild polio virus in Nigeria. It was also designed to support governors’ top health priorities, including malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV prevention and treatment, safe drinking water and hygiene programmes.
Kwara Class of Honors
Senator Bukola Saraki founded Kwara Class of Honor, a program aimed at awarding Post-Graduate scholarship to First Class students of the state to continue their study in any higher institutions of their choice across the federation, and over 71 First class were awarded during the first phase of the scholarship program
As a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, he was appointed the chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Ecology and also a member of the Senate Committee on Capital Markets and Finance. He fought very hard in the Senate to end the fuel subsidy regime in Nigeria, which has been an excessive waste of the country’s national resources.
Senator Saraki has campaigned extensively on health, food security, education and the environment. He fought relentlessly for strengthened laws on security, education and environment especially the clean up of oil spills. His National Oil Spill and Detection and Response Agency Amendment Bill seeks to ensure oil companies pay appropriate levels of compensation to communities affected by oil spills. In 2010, Saraki also intervened in the lead poisoning crisis in Zamfara State
Senator Saraki emerged the Senate President of the Federal of Nigeria after his re-election in the 2015 general elections under the platform of All Progressives Congress APC on the 9th of June 2015. This was a remarkable breakthrough as he was elected unopposed as President of the Senate by an across the party alliance comprising PDP and APC Senators.
Senator Bukola Saraki and a delegation of Senators visited Maiduguri, Borno State on 3 August 2015 to get a first hand assessment of the damage done in the north-eastern part of Nigeria by terrorist group Boko Haram and to give hope to internally displaced persons. The delegation was the first of its kind under the leadership of the Senate President Bukola since the insurgency began.
Code of Conduct Tribunal
While serving as Senate President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Bukola Saraki passed through a number of challenges ranging from charges of corruption by the Code of Conduct Bureau dated September 1, 2015. He was subsequently arraigned before a Code of Conduct Tribunal of offences ranging from:
- False declaration of assets while governor of Kwara state
- Acquiring assets beyond his legitimate earnings
- Operating foreign accounts while in office
- And allegation of theft, corruption, money laundering among others.
He was equally accused of borrowing huge sums of money running into billions from commercial banks, and used the proceeds of the loan to acquire several landed properties in Lagos, Abuja and London, while he was the governor of Kwara State.
Bukola Saraki became the first Senate President in Nigeria to be issued with arrest warrants by the Chairman of the Code Of Conduct Tribunal, Danladi Umar, issued an arrest warrant against Saraki on September 18, 2015.
A legal team of 79 lawyers went to Court on March 18, 2016, led by Kanu Godwin Agabi, to defend Saraki at the tribunal.
Another corruption charges indictment was issued against Bukola Saraki while serving as President of Senate by the EFCC. He and his aides were accused of money laundering of up to N3.5billion from the Paris Club Loan Refund. However, this allegation was swiftly denied by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity.
On Wednesday, June 14, 2017, the President Saraki was discharged and acquitted by the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) sitting in Abuja in the 18 count charge of corruption in the false declaration of assets charge brought against him in September 2015 by the federal government.
The tribunal held that the evidence proffered against Saraki by the federal government was unreliable to hold the charges against the defendant. He was subsequently free from the corruption charges.
Umar the CCT Chairman, further said that the report of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) before the tribunal was more of intelligence gathering rather than conventional investigation.
Appeal Court Decision
The Senate President was arraigned before The Court of Appeal who then ordered the tribunal to try Saraki on three out of the 18 counts amended charges bordering on false declaration of assets brought against him by the Federal Government. In the end, The Appeal Court also held that the prosecution failed to prove his case beyond reasonable double and was subsequently discharged and acquitted.
On Friday, July 6, 2018, the Supreme Court of the Federal Republic of Nigeria dismissed all 18 charges of corruption and false asset declaration brought against the Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, by the Federal Government, following his election as Senate President. Therefore, the court affirmed the June 2017 decision of the Code of Conduct Tribunal which ruled that the prosecution failed to prove the case against Dr. Saraki.
Bukola Saraki again defected to People Democratic Party (PDP) on Tuesday August 7th 2018 which he attributed to many uncomfortable activities of the ruling APC party.
However, Saraki’s recent defection to PDP move was viewed by the ruling party as selfish, illegal and called for his resignation as the Senate President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. There was a clandestine move by the ruling party to impeach him. This secret move led to the DSS taking over the premises of the Senate which was widely condemned by all lovers of democracy and the sack of the Director General of State Security Service DSS.
Inspite of the trials, tribulations, clandestine moves by his political enemies, Senate President Bukola Saraki stood tall, committed, resolute and calm and remain non violent. He said his trials were designed to ridicule him and thanked God he was free from all the tribulations.
What can we say of a man like Saraki? A non violent and winning politician, a national bridge builder, a peace maker, an achiever, a true Democrat and above all, a good example of a Hero Of Nigerian Politics.