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Throwback: THE STORY OF BUKOLA SARAKI AND MOHAMMED LAWAL 

Femi Yusuf

 

The Friday 5th of February, 2016 Supreme Court judgment on the issue of Senate President, Bukola Saraki’s case at Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) got me thinking about the hey days of his administration as the Executive Governor of Kwara State in 2003.

The thought also brought back to my memory the episode that led to the exit of late Mohammed Lawal as the Governor of Kwara State and the emergence of Bukola Saraki as his successor. This episode is a fairy tales to remember by Kwarans who witnessed this period. It is better not remembered and confined to history.

However, it was a fact that when Bukola Saraki took over from Governor Mohammed Lawal, he set up a panel of enquiry to investigate all Lawal’s activities as the Governor with a view of finding lapses and fraudulent activities which might have been done during his tenure either by him or his associates in order to indict him and probably prosecute him. The investigation was thorough and intimidating that left no aspect of Lawal’s government untouched.

Starting from reversal of the appointment of permanent secretaries; to the reversal of the up-grading of traditional rulers; to the reversal of creation of 20 additional local government areas
which passed through all the constitutional laid down procedures; to the sacking of over 5000 lawfully employed citizen of the state; to the forceful collection of over 100 commercial vehicles given out as poverty alleviation programme to people across the 16 local government areas (The chief collector of the vehicles later use them to start his own transport business), revocation and reallocation (to
his own people) of the allocation of the 250 units of 3 bedroom at Irewolede constructed by Lawal all in the name of looking for loophole to hang Lawal.

It did not end there; he still went ahead to probe all contracts awarded by the administration. The borehole projects, the cottage hospitals, the viewing centers, the water project which includes the construction of “Up Kwara Reservoir Tanks” in strategic locations in the state capital. The issue was even referred to the EFCC by Bukola for investigation.

The report of EFCC eventually exonerated Lawal of any discrepancy in the project, infact, the report commended him for doing a quality job with the project and at a lower price. The most dramatic of all the accusation was the purchase of the five (5) of his official cars as stipulated by the law which allows an outgoing governor to buy out of his official cars when leaving office.

Bukola Saraki alleged Lawal of stealing the vehicles even when he was fully aware that he actually paid for the vehicles. Saraki in his usual self blew it out of
proportion and a wash the press with the news of car theft by Lawal all in the name of political vendetta. The case got messier and was dragged to the then President, Olusegun
Obasanjo who intervened in the matter pleading with Lawal to return the vehicle for peace to rein. The late Governor obliged and returned the vehicles. Bukola Saraki was even reluctant to return the cheque of Five Million Naira paid for the cars.

Another celebrated issue that unfolded during this period was the issue of SUBEB where a recorded video was released to the press showing movement of money with a golf car, making it look like a loot, though the video did not show us where the money was moved to and where and
who the supposed loot was been shared. All the people that served in Lawal’s government were being persecuted and harassed by police or EFCC all in the name of looking for a way to indict Lawal.

Inspite all these persecution, Lawal and his associates were exonerated and nothing incriminating was found to indict him or any of his associates. The man eventually died a hero in 2006.

In what looked like the real intention of the Bukola’s government, a poster was made with Lawal’s picture in handcuff and pasted in all the nooks and crannies of the state capital. With all these intimidations and harassments, Lawal was
calm and refused to be drawn into war of words till his demise, but with that calmness, it is logical to assume that
he was wishing Bukola what he wished him.

That may not be too far from the fact because the latest Senate President’s ordeal with the code of conduct tribunal, one will not but amazed that someone who was chasing his predecessor could have almost at the same time
perpetrating how he will defraud the state pretending to be protecting from Lawal in 2003, using ADE LAOYE , TOLA AKINKUGBE, CHAVET, GODAB, SOJECT, BABALAKIN, HENRY GEORGE etc.

Subsequent events that unfolded during his 8 years tenure said much about his sincerity with the common man in the
state. All the projects he embarked on left more doubt in the minds of Kwarans than that of Lawal. Any project above N50m are executed by Bukola or late Baba Saraki, the Shonga farm
project with over 1 billion naira of the state was expended on some foreigners from Zimbabwe or South Africa. Today no one can point to one single benefit the project brought to the State.

The bridge constructed in the post office area was
even more of a problem to the people not to think of the reviewed to tripple
amount it gulped or millions of Kwarans money sunk in to the reticulation of water pipe and permanent monthly supply of ALUM by Laolu Saraki, did not see the light of the day or why do we still experience acute water shortage in the
State today? Or the planting of flowers by WALE AKINKUGBE, with a lot of money when ordinary people in the State could not even afford 3 square meals in a day.

Construction of cargo shield BY WALE BABALAKIN at the airport, aviation college, KWASU by CHAVET, company brought by OTUNBA OJORA, the father of Bukola’s wife, Toyin Saraki and football academy were not bringing in the expected income or how do we explain the present economic situation where the state do not have money to pay salaries and reeling in debt?

As if that was not enough, during the twilight of his administration in 2011, he hurriedly made his rubber stamp house of assembly to pass an obnoxious law allowing him to enjoy certain benefit as he was leaving the seat. The content of the bill was that the state government will build a house each for him in Ilorin and Abuja, buying of cars for him, paying for his medical bills, enjoy monthly allowance
package worth 100 million naira etc.

One will now be wondering why someone who was chasing his predecessor for just 5 cars arranged this kind of benefits for himself. When the issue of Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) came up in June last year after he became the Senate President, I was of the opinion that it was only a political blackmail and that he will just walk in there and explain things. But when
he first refused to appear and started jumping from one court to another, I began to wonder if it could be true.

When he was finally docked in a live broadcast, someone called me and asked me if am watching. Then it was dawn on me that this was exactly what Bukola had wished to do for Lawal back in 2003. Really, what comes around goes around.
The Supreme Court’s judgment has given the Senate President the opportunity to clear his name once and for all
just like Late Lawal did when he was being chased by the Senate President. If the judgment had been the other way, he may not get the opportunity to prove his innocence.

My advice to him is to stand for the trial and tell the whole world and doubting thomases like me that he is not guilty. Finding political solution may not clean the mess.
KWARANS, be wise and demand for the repatriation of Kwara stolen money by Bukola Saraki.

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