Celebrating Oloye Abubakar Olubukola Saraki (@bukolasaraki) @50 – Compiled by Wale Bakare
The Man, Bukola Saraki
Oloye Bukola Saraki was born on the 19th December 1962 to the family of Late Dr Abubakar Olusola Saraki, the Turaki of Ilorin. In recognition of his obvious talents, particularly in the area of budgeting and finance management, the Federal Government appointed him as Special Assistant to the President on Budget in the year 2000. He worked closely with the Ministry of Finance and actively involved in all negotiations with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on behalf Nigeria.
In 2003, he was elected the eighteenth Governor of Kwara State, holding office from 29 May 2003 to 29 May 2011. He is an influential member of the People’s Democratic Party, and the party leader in Kwara State. After the demise of the Senior Saraki, he was bestowed the new “Oloye” by his followers and consented to by His Royal Highness Alhajii Ibrahim Zulu-Gambari, the Emir of Ilorin.
Bukola Saraki attended Corona School, Victoria Island, Lagos, from 1966 to 1977 for his primary school education and King’s college, Lagos, from 1973 to 1978 for his West African Senior Secondary School Certificate. Saraki went to the United Kingdom in 1982, he attended London Hospital Medical College, University of London where he obtained his M.M.B.S (London) in 1982. Between 1988 to 1989 Saraki worked as a medical officer at Rush Green Hospital in London and came home to serve as the Director and later Executive Director of Societe General Bank from 1989 to 2000. He also attended various courses both at home and abroad, including ’Advanced Credit Analysis’ at D.C. Gardner, London (1992) ; Executive Management Program at American Express, London (1993) and Nigeria in the Global Situation at the Lagos Business School in 1998.
Early Political Career
The Saraki’s have been actively involved in politics for decades. Headed by the late Waziri and Generalissimo of Kwara politics Dr Olusola Saraki fondly referred to as Oloye. Under Oloye’s tutor, Dr. Bukola Saraki contested and won the gubernatorial election of April 19, 2003 in the State under the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). He ran again in 2007, and won. He pulled 78,799 votes ahead of his closest rival the Action Congress who pulled 53,058 and ACPN with 32,499. He became the first Governor to govern the state for two terms consecutively. Following in the line of his father as a former Senator of the Republic, he was elected to the Senate in 2011 representing Kwara Central, a position he holds till date.
Towering Achievements as Kwara Governor
When Bukola Saraki assumed office in May 2003, the mood of the nation was high, the subsequent expectations of the new government were even higher. Those who had voted for him looked to the new government to right the wrongs of the past and to heal the wounds and scars left on their psyche by the past injustices. The young and dynamic Bukola Saraki having identified the brazen challenges ahead made a promise to the people of Kwara to focus on Nine projects namely – The State Travel Plaza, the Aviation College, the Asa Dam development project, the new secretariats, the Commercial Agricultural Project phase II, Kwara State University, the Ilorin Water Distribution project, irrigations support, the building of new medical centres and various mixed developments. Most of these projects are visible in Kwara State, while the uncompleted once as a result of the 2009 global recession which hit Nigeria and subsequently affected the promised private sector support are taking upon by his successor. Notwithstanding the daunting challenges. Kwara is an agrarian State, his administration made agriculture the hub of the State which prompted several awards and recognition from the Federal Government as the most Agriculturally developed State. This follows the eradication of polio, massive investments in health and education sector amongst others.
A true Democrat
Bukola Saraki believes in politics practiced along with the best international standards. After the successful completion of his tenure, he demonstrated his penchant for democracy and the rule of law by supporting a candidate who emerged from the party primaries besides imposing a candidate against the people’s wish. This gesture was acknowledged by all and sundry as most Kwarans turned out en mass to vote the candidate of their choice to continue in the era of a peaceful transition.
Oloye Saraki & Barrister Oluwatoyin Saraki
Behind of every great man, they say, is a greater woman. Mrs Oluwatoyin Saraki’s unflinching support of her husband during and after his tenure as the governor has birthed many philanthropic gestures. She ensured the passage of the Kwara State Safe Maternity Service Act. Her love for children and downtrodden is unequalled – with the Alaafia Kwara, catering for the specific needs of the Kwara people and the WellBeing Foundation (WBF) a national organisation that has become one of the strongest voices on the national and international stage in advocating and providing support for improved maternal, newborn and child health.
His philanthropy and Love for Sports
Before he became the governor of Kwara Sate he has been involved in a number of charities, donating to non-governmental organisation and sponsoring the indigent students to achieve quality education. He has used his position to affect positively the lives of those around him and his immediate environment. He will be strongly appreciated for his role in stemming the oil spillage in the Niger-Delta and his timely visit and donation to the flood victims.
Bukola Saraki has demonstrated his strong affection sport most especially the round leather game, his administration’s greatest investments in young people remain the Kwara Football Academy. The academy has produced young budding talents, it boasts of potentials that has been imported to other European clubs. He also reiterated the dearth of sport infrastructure in the game, citing corruption as a major obstacle to the development of the game. He spoke in Lagos at the Teslim Balogun Stadium during the finals of the2012 Shell/NNPC Cup “We need to clean up Nigerian football because it is corrupt and stinks,” Saraki, who owns the only privately run club in the Nigeria Premier League, ABS FC, said.“The NPL (board) should go and sort itself out. We can’t change the system from outside; we must do that from the inside. I am now a stakeholder and I am happy that I can contribute my quota to the development of football in Nigeria.
Achievements & Membership
A firm believer in the immense progressive possibilities of Nigeria and has continued to work with Nigerian democrats from all walks of life towards achieving his goals.The brilliance he showed as a governor endeared him to be elected as the Chairman of Governors forum, during his stint at the helms of affair he took up a number of initiatives notably the joint partnership with the United State on capacity building. He instilled discipline in the board and gave every member a sense of belonging. Dr Saraki’s tenure also pushed for the establishment of a Relief Fund for the crisis in Jos in January 2010, which saw all the members of the forum pledge N5 Million each to alleviate the hardship and suffering. He is a member of many professional bodies such as the Nigeria Medical Council, the British Medical council, World Young Presidents Organisation, Board of Trustees, John Kennedy Performing Arts Centre, Washington, and FITC Governing Council.
Awards & Honours
Bukola Saraki’s achievements over the years have been noticed and acknowledged both locally and internationally by private and public agencies and institutions. Some his awards include: ‘Governor of the Year’ by This Day Newspapers (2004), ‘Best Governor of the Year in Agricultural Development 2004/2005 by City People, KSNG; Leadership Award in appreciation of commitments and outstanding leadership qualities (2005). Harvard Business School Africa Club Award 2005; Kenneth Kaunda Foundation Best Governor in Africa 2006; Osun State Broadcasting Corporation Man of the Year and a host of other awards too numerous to mention.
The Golden Cheers
“Forty is the old age of youth; fifty is the youth of old age”
As he demonstrated uncommon political sagacity, wisdom and selflessness by identifying and firmly supporting the emergence of a competent successor capable of carrying aloft the banner of continuity, progress and transformation in the State of harmony, the widely acknowledged servant leader, Abubakar Olubukola Saraki, deserves some respect even from his enemies. He remains the conscience of Kwarans and indeed Nigerias.
Bukola Saraki is 50, therefore it is time to celebrate a leader on the account his many political accomplishments. No amount of celebration or merry making will be too much to honour one of Nigerias’ finest senator. We wish you success and many more years on earth years as you forge ahead towards the reclamation of our dear country.
The Birthday celebration had begun since Friday with the special Jumat prayer in Ilorin to launch the newly built Ilorin Central Mosque and Kwara State Diagnostic Centre.
– Compiled by Wale Bakare