As Nigerians and the Kwara State Government continue to mourn the passing of former Senate Leader in the Second Republic, Dr. Abubakar Olushola Saraki, on Wednesday, accolades have continued to pour in.
IBB: Nigeria Has Lost a Political Gem
Former military president, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, while commiserating with the Sarakis, said that Nigeria has again lost a rare political gem and a refined man who understood the tempers and mercies of politics. In a statement by IBB's spokesman, Kassim Afegbua, the former military president said the late Saraki gave more than a passing interest in nurturing it.
According to him, "He was a man that cultivated his politics in a very peculiar manner and espoused the practice of generosity and good neighbourliness to sustain his array of political followers," adding that he was a politician that created his own panache throughout his entire political sojourn.
He said: "He was very close to me and I had the rare privilege of learning a few political notes from his rich reservoir of political knowledge. Senator Saraki has the mileage that most politicians do not have. He was kind, generous, God-fearing and enjoyed a popularity that was peculiar to him alone. He understood the dynamics of Nigeria politics and was able to sustain his political relevance through and through."
Yuguda: He Led an Exemplary Life
Bauchi State Governor, Mallam Isa Yuguda, has said the late strongman of Kwara politics, Dr. Olusola Saraki, led an exemplary life for the present generation of Nigerian leaders to copy.
Speaking during a visit to the son of the late politician, Senator Bukola Saraki, in Ilorin yesterday, Yuguda said the late Saraki had taught Nigerian leaders uprightness, welfarism and service to humanity, adding that he lived and worked for the development of humanity.
The governor, who asked a cleric among his entourage to pray for the repose of the late politician also called on God to grant his family the fortitude to bear the loss.
Okorocha: He Served with Diligence
Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha has condoled with Nigerians, Kwara State government and the Sarakis over the loss of former Senate Leader, Dr. Abubakar Olusola Saraki.
In a statement by Imo State's Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Chinedu Offor, Okorocha said people of Kwara should be consoled by the fact that their departed icon, by dint of hard work rose to national prominence and served his people with diligence. The governor also prayed that the almighty God grant the family the fortitude to bear this irreparable loss.
NGF: A Man of Uncommon Humility
The Nigeria Governors' Forum (NGF) in a statement signed by its Director General, Bayo Okuaro, commiserated with the government and people of Kwara State and the Senate over the death of Saraki, describing him as one of Nigeria's most accomplished statesmen, politician and businessman.
The governors' forum said that it is unfortunate that Saraki, a man of uncommon humility, a nationally acclaimed philanthropist and political icon, passed on at a time Nigeria needed his invaluable service most.
The forum said that his loss is no doubt a monumental loss to Nigeria, adding that: "Chief Saraki's departure is both painful and shocking. But we take solace in the fact that he lived and died well. He dedicated his life to serving the poor and powerless. He mixed freely with the underprivileged and lived substantially organising and fighting for the upliftment of his people while making important contributions to Nigeria's national development. He touched many lives, and taught lessons on communal living and the service of one's community."
'He Bequeathed a Legacy of Hard Work'
Former governor of Sokoto State, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa, yesterday described the death of Saraki, as a great loss not only to his family but to the entire nation. In a statement signed by the Media Aide to the former governor, Alhaji Yusuf Dingyadi, the former governor noted that the late Saraki dedicated his life to the service of the people.
He urged the Northern elders to immortalise the late Saraki by burying their differences and work towards ensuring unity among Nigerians, adding the that Saraki bequeathed a legacy of hard work and sacrifice for the development of the country. "We must honour Saraki by dedicating ourselves to the cause he lived for in sustaining a united North and Nigeria in general," he added.
Yakasai: A Symbol of National Unity
In his condolence message, Alhaji Tanko Yakasai, the former Special Adviser on National Assembly Matters to former President Shehu Shagari, said Saraki's demise signalled a painful end of an era. Yakasai added that by his death, Nigeria has lost one of its leaders who worked tirelessly to sustain and strengthen democracy in the country.
According to him, "The death of Senator Abubakar Olusola Saraki is a great loss not only to his family and political associates, but to the people of Kwara State and the nation in general."
'Nigeria Loses Best Political Strategist'
In her own statement, Senator Chris Anyanwu said Nigeria has lost one of her best political strategists with the death of Saraki. Anyanwu, who covered the Second Republic Senate for the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), recalled how the late Saraki harnessed political differences in the chamber for the good of the country.
According to her, "Nigeria has lost a great man. Saraki was one of the best political strategists of his time. He was a great politician as well. Watching him from the Senate gallery in the Second Republic, I saw that several times when Nigeria could have been plunged into a crisis, he had a way with people. He was not hard but had a gentle way of persuading his colleagues to his point of view and pulling Nigeria back from the brink."
Adding, she said: "At that time, he was a calming influence in the Senate. He was also, a people's man; he carried his people with him. Wherever he went, his people followed him. They followed him, not because he hoodwinked them, but because they genuinely loved him and he, in turn, groomed his people."
'Great Loss to Nigeria'
Former Kano State governor and presidential candidate on the platform of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) in the 2011 general election, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau, has described the death of Senator Olusola Saraki as a great loss to the country.
Shekarau said the late Saraki was a rare politician, philanthropist and a community leader whose absence has created a vacuum difficult to fill. In a statement by his media aide, Alhaji Sule Yau Sule, the former governor prayed for Allah's forgiveness of his sins.
'He Was a Great, Compassionate Leader'
Expressing shock at the death of Saraki, former Minister of Aviation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, said the late politician "was one of the greatest, kindest, most compassionate, most generous and most selfless leaders that we have ever had in this country".
He said the late Saraki's power and influence stretched from the Second Republic when he was the Leader of the Senate on the platform of the NPN up until today. "He made the dreams and aspirations of many come true and throughout his life he brought nothing but smiles to many faces. He was my late father's close and loyal friend and he was like a father to me and so many others. This is not a good time for him to go because Nigeria needs him now more than ever and we shall all miss him dearly."
A North-South Bridge, Says Adamu
Former Nasarawa State governor, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, described the death of Saraki
as a huge loss not only to Kwara State but to Nigeria as a whole. Reacting to the demise of Saraki, the senator representing Nasarawa West Senatorial District said that the late Senate Leader was one of the most successful brokers of peace and "a bridge" between the Northern and Southern parts of Nigeria.
He recalled that when he was Senate Leader, the NPN had a slim majority that made it impossible for it to carry out its agenda but late Saraki's political sagacity made him find a way for the ruling party to always have its way in the Senate. He said it was to his credit that he held firmly to Kwara State and was able to not only provide adequate leadership for the people but also used it as a spring board for meaningful contributions to national politics.
'He Was a Political Field Marshal'
Chairman, House Committee on Public and Media Affairs, Hon Zakari Muhammed, said: "Saraki was a political field marshal who transverse our political landscape. He has a large heart. However, he was the last man standing in the political terrain in Nigeria. He brought unity and stability in Kwara and Nigeria's political turf and naming some landmark facility in both federal and state level is not out of place. We will miss Oloye's generosity and charisma."
'A Man of Wisdom'
Chairman of Kaiama Local Government Area in Kwara State, Hon. Abubakar Sadiq Ahmed, said Baba Oloye, as he was popularly called, was a man of wisdom and an epitome of simplicity who gave regard and respect to everybody, adding that: "He will be most remembered for the love and care for the less-privileged that he made part of him."
He also noted that he would be remembered as a man of peace. "Baba will be missed by all and sundry especially here in Kwara where he impacted so much to improve the living standard of the people which brought peace to the state. We thank God for his life and also for living behind Dr. Bukola Saraki who has already stepped into his shoes which I think will go a long way in keeping his dreams alive," he added.
Adebayo: A Great Politician, Patriot
Former governor of Ekiti State, Chief Niyi Adebayo, said Saraki's death came as a shock to everybody. "He was one of the great Nigerians we have. He was a great politician and a patriot. It is saddening that he has died. One would have wished he lived many more years for us to share from his wealth of experience. I encourage all Nigerians to emulate the kind of politics he practised. He lived his life for Nigeria and I can say he loved the country based on my personal experience with him. He was someone I held in awe because I spent a year while in school in Kwara State College of Technology Ilorin, the name that was reverberating in politics then was that of Dr. Olusola Saraki," he said.
Mbadinuju: He Has Left a Political Vacuum
Former governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju, said: "As a player in that Republic under the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) I ran several errands between the vice-president's office to which I was attached and that of Senate Leader and in that capacity I could say without equivocation that late Dr. Saraki left a political vacuum that will be difficult to fill. He was sagacious, confident, a nationalist to the core and fearless.
"He was the first politician to challenge a Nigerian ruler on money laundering as he led a national debate that called for the laundered fund to be returned to Nigeria. A few more politicians of Saraki's calibre would have been enough to put Nigeria on the right course between then and now. I pray that his family especially his son, former governor and now senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Dr. Saraki will keep the flag flying as they bear this irreparable loss to the family and to Nigeria as a whole."
'Kwara Has Lost a Gem'
Commiserating with the people and government of Kwara State, the Olofa of Offa, Oba Mufutau Gbadamosi Esuwoye II, described the late Saraki as a gem, adding that his death was a great loss to the state and Nigeria at large.
"I will greatly miss him. May his soul rest in peace. He was a good man. If you offend him, he forgives easily. I do not want to say too much because I am very sad. If you know how close I was to him, you will understand what I am talking about."
'An Enigmatic Politician'
Condoling with the people and government of Kwara State, the Chairman, Oilworld Ltd, Mr. Gbenga Olawepo, described the late Waziri of Ilorin as an enigmatic politician, affectionate, kind and humane in an uncommon way.
Olawpo said: "There are many good things to say about Baba. As one who shared a fundamentally different political path with him all through his later political career, I can testify to the fact that even when one shared different political platform with him, he treated such people truly with respect.
"Let me end this by praying for God Almighty to give you and the entire family the fortitude to bear this great loss; this is my prayer for Kwara and our great country Nigeria"