A major item on the discussion menu in Ilorin last weekend was the political road show which landed with so much razzmatazz, recently in Kwara. It had all the contrived elements associated with a burlesque: there was a “special prayer session that featured many Imams”, according to THISDAY newspaper of Monday, June 27, 2011. Dr. Olusola Saraki reportedly forgave his son and new governor, Fatai Ahmed of “some ugly events at the last election which polarized the dynasty”. To show contriteness, Bukola and successor, Fatai Ahmed went on their knees in front of the old man, much to the admiration of supporters of “the dynasty”. At the heart of the burlesque, is the reconciliation of Saraki Pere (old man, Dr. Sola Saraki) and Fils (new helmsman Bukola Saraki). Saraki Fils, Bukola, decisively routed Pere, the Wazirin Ilorin, in an election which the old man described as the WORST RIGGED all his life! Fille, Gbemisola’s ambition was deflated and the old man’s mythical nine lives were torn to shreds.
The “unexpected” element of the intra-family feud was the emergence of Muhammed Dele Belgore and his ACN party. Belgore is in court, and no one knows where the pendulum will swing. Saraki Fils, Bukola, sought the assistance of leading traditional rulers in Northern Nigeria, before Pere accepted his pleas for forgiveness. As the story went, Saraki: Pere, Fils sans Fille (Gbemisola), met, avec le nouveau gouverneur, Fatai Ahmed, in London, to seal the reconciliation. Reconciliation became imperative, according to those who know, to forestall a divided house, just in case the courts order a re-run of governorship election. This permutation was before the recent court decision that winners of elections can be declared by the courts, contrary to the amended Electoral Act, which aimed to forestall what happened in Edo, Ondo, Ekiti and Osun States (former Speaker Bankole had bragged that the worst that could happen a re-run would be ordered, which the PDP would win anyway!). The family’s heirloom (Kwara State) might be endangered, if there was continued division between Pere et Fils, as reflected in their two parties, ACPN and PDP. When united, they are formidable.
The largest political billboard in Kwara literally carries the “NO VACANCY” message, when Dr Saraki declared that “there is no place for opposition in Kwara State and they cannot take over the state”. The Wazirin Ilorin expatiated on the impending and worrisome wave: “I realize that if I want peace to reign in Kwara State, and for opposition party not to be given chances like it happened in the last election, I have to listen to him”. Reacting to the shellacking he received in April, Saraki Pere went spiritual: “What happened to me during the last election was a misfortune to me, I never expected it but I know that was how Allah wanted it, and I have taken it as a human being. Since I never expected that it would be my blood that will change the face of Kwara, which he did to my satisfaction and admiration of everybody, then I have to accept this too as my fate”. Nevertheless, there is another dimension to the issue, according to Dr. Sola Saraki: “The crisis is in two arms. We have settled the political aspect, it remains the family aspect because Gbemi is still very angry, and I am behind her for that…” Essentially how Pere (Wazirin Ilorin), Fils (Turakin Ilorin) et Fille (the “still very angry” Gbemi) are reconciled will not be for public consumption. But it was noted that what Gbemi wanted, Bukola denied her (governor); what she held, he took (senator)!
If the situation is confounding, it is because in matters of high stake family politicking, those outside of the loop cannot know intimate details; and that is the fate of followers. While members of the ACPN have been assured of re-integration into the PDP, there have been demonstrations at the State HQ of the PDP that not a single place in the new government will be ceded to ACPN members. In the meantime, Bola Tinubu of the ACN was similarly in Ilorin to attend the fiftieth birthday of his party’s governorship candidate, Muhammed Dele Belgore, the other day. He then made a dig at the Saraki clan: there is a TRADITIONAL Emir in Ilorin, who they respect. But there is also a POLITICAL Emir, they are determined to remove! May we live in interesting times; in the words of the old Chinese curse! But a final twist to the tale was that after the reconciliation process, Saraki Pere was seen off to the airport; and as his plane departed, a crowd of youths introduced a new slogan: “BUKOLA, LEADER; an indication that the batons have changed hands from Pere to Fils. However as the French also say: Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose (The more things change, the more they remain same!)