THE PRESIDENT of the 8th Nigeria’s Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki is the constitutional recognised number three citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. As the President, he is the most vilified by organs of government. Never allowed to settled down to direct the affairs of the Senate and indeed the National Assembly. Yet, in all these, he has continued to move the Senate from one height to another. The 8th Senate under his able leadership has broken many grounds when compared to other senate in the annals of the legislative business in Nigeria. Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki means so many things to so many people. To some, Dr. Saraki is a consummate medical doctor, a banker extraordinary, an astute sports lover, and a skilful politician. Many others see him as a humanist with impregnable inclination to the welfare of greater number of the people. No doubt, Saraki’s resume is intimidating even to his arch critics. No matter the lens from which you view the personae of the Senator representing Kwara Central Senatorial District, he is not in any way diminished. The former Kwara state governor’s ascendancy in all spheres of human endeavour continues to baffle even his closest allies. His ever increasing political profile in the country has expectedly made him an issue in the Nigerian political landmark. But nobody can, no matter what the case may be, deny the fact that Saraki is a leader per excellence. No little wonder that President Muhammadu Buhari last year described him as one of the most influential politicians of our time. Through a dint of hard work, Saraki has distinguished and proved himself a politician with unassailable knack for raising the bar to deliver exceptional results. It is true that Saraki does not believe in working from the answer, he confronts issues as they arise to achieve an answer. His cheering score card is overloaded with accomplishments that could make even his arch-enemies scorch with envy.Dr. Saraki’s proven records of confronting even the most difficult task is also seen as a huge plus for him. By all standard, he is one of the few privileged Nigerians born with silver spoon. Perhaps, it may be appropriate to conclude that the circumstances of his birth are never lost to Dr. Saraki in every step he takes. Saraki did not disappoint as a medical doctor. After his graduation from the prestigious London Hospital Medical Collage of the University of London in 1987 where he obtained M.B.B.S (London), Dr. Saraki worked as a medical officer at Rush Green Hospital, Ess3x from 1988 to 1989. On his return to the country, Saraki’s versatility projected him to emerge as the executive director of Societe Generale Bank (Nig) Ltd, a bank owned by his family, from 1990 to 2000. Drawing from his unquestionable taste for the improvement of sports, Dr. Saraki has not only provided life wire to many sports organisations but has also capped it all with the establishment of the top flight Abubakar Bukola Saraki (ABS) football club. Dr. Saraki who was elected unopposed as Senate President on June 9th 2015 was governor of Kwara State from 2003 to 2011. After his meritorious service as Chief Executive Officer of Kwara State, he was elected into the Senate in April 2011 and was re-elected in March 2015. Senator Saraki’s tenure as Kwara State governor saw massive transformation and reforms in agriculture, health, education, finance and rural development policies of the state. One of Saraki’s outstanding achievements was the seamless invitation of displaced white farmers from Zimbabwe to Kwara State where the government offered them opportunity and a large expanse of land to farm. The invitation of the white farmers led to the establishment of Shonga Farms programme, which is now being replicated across Nigeria with massive investments in poultry, dairy production and crop farming with improved farm yields. Saraki’s charisma among his brother governors saw him appointed chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum. It is on record that under Saraki, Kwara State became the first state to complete the Nigeria Independent Power Project. In collaboration with the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, Saraki did not only re-energised the Ganmo Power Station at Ilorin, but also connected over 375 rural communities to the national grid through the development and installation of 725 transformers and seven substations. The state further completed four electrification projects which meant power became stable 18–22 hours a day. 90 percent of people living in Kwara have access to electricity, compared to a national average in Nigeria of 30 percent. Senator Saraki became chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum in 2007 with focus and establishment of a reformed and a fully resourced secretariat, including a technical and administrative division that was entirely focused on delivery. It was under Saraki’s chairmanship that new processes such as the State Peer Review Mechanism were developed to ensure closer working and collaboration, and that best practices could be shared between states. The mechanism allowed case studies to be shared between states in a number of policy fields, including power projects, primary healthcare centres for villages and other rural locations, road works, water, solar schemes and the construction of specialist hospitals and state universities. Perhaps one of the most widely acclaimed achievements of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum under Saraki was its patriotic intervention in the problematic assumption of power by then-Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan following the illness and subsequent death of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. The NGF, under Saraki, pushed intellect to its limit, worked with the National Assembly to implement the celebrated doctrine of Necessity, which was then passed as a resolution by the National Assembly. The Doctrine of Necessity allowed Vice President Jonathan to take over and become acting President until the President returned. It was a novelty packaged by the NGF to save a dicey situation that had the capacity to derail democratic process in the country. The humanity in the Kwara Central lawmaker has continued to rise. Senator Saraki is at the fore front of the campaign for health, food security, education and environment regeneration. He promoted vigorously the campaign for strengthened laws on the clean up of oil spills. With his National Oil Spill and Detection and Response Agency Amendment Bill, Saraki seeks to ensure oil companies pay appropriate compensation to communities affected by oil spills. The rising profile of Saraki continues to blossom as a champion of popular opinion and the peoples’representatives remains unrivaled. Happy birthday to you. The best in you is yet to come.
Chuks Okocha is Special Assistant to the Senate President on Print Media.