By Emmanuel Aziken,
It could be a potentially deadly faceoff that interestingly has two medical doctors as the central characters. Dr. Ibrahim Oloriegbe, the All Progressives Congress, APC Senate candidate in Kwara Central is matched against Dr. Bukola Saraki, the Senate President who interestingly is the incumbent running for a third straight term in the Senate. Saraki’s aspiration is on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
If he succeeds, Senator Saraki will become the first senator from Kwara including his father, the late Senator Abubakar Saraki to serve three terms in the Senate.
If Bukola wins the contest, it would also mean that the Kwara Central Senate seat would have stayed in the hands of a Saraki for the fifth consecutive term. Before Bukola, his sister Gbemisola had occupied the same seat for two terms between 2003 and 2011. Before then, their later father, Senator Abubakar Saraki also won the same seat for two terms between 1979 and 1983.
Since the creation of the state, only two other persons not from the Saraki family have occupied the seat, albeit for six years.
So, the voice of dissent against Senator Bukola’s third term aspiration was in part understandable. But whether the agitation of Dr. Oloriegbe is the popular aspiration of the majority of the people of the senatorial district is another matter.
That agitation has taken shape on the ground among the dissenters with the slogan, ‘Otooge!’ popularized by APC governorship candidate Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq. It means enough is enough in the local parlance.
Last Thursday, Dr. Oloriegbe, who besides his practice of medicine also styled himself as a development expert spoke to a group of newsmen where he enumerated appalling social indicators in the constituency which he claimed have prevailed despite Saraki’s representation.
Besides the poor social indicators of the high unemployment rate, social disorder on account of misbehavior by area boys, street begging among others, he also cited the high level of infrastructure decay.
As he spoke that day, he observed that the era of the Sarakis had come to an end.
“Nothing is permanent, not only in Kwara but everywhere in the world. You can have emperors, you can have godfathers, from ancient history you have had the pharaohs, they were strong, but they were defeated.
“Before Dr. Abubakar Saraki, the Waziri came, some people were in charge of the politics of Kwara. He lost his first election in 1964, but he came back in 1977 and won. He took over from some people, and his son took over from him, and it is time for his son also to give way.”
According to him the local government elections in November 2017 which saw the PDP lose ground in some council wards within Ilorin/Asa Federal Constituency was indicative of Saraki’s loss of political capital.
“If in an election he conducted as recent as November 2017, and we could defeat him where the state government superintends, it shows the people’s will for change. So, in a free and fair election conducted by an umpire such as INEC, we can defeat him.
“In that local government election, the people stayed on and defended their votes and that is why they couldn’t change those two wards, but they changed many others.”
Remarkably, Dr. Oloriegbe asserts that a member of the Saraki dynasty, Senator Gbemisola who is a member of the ruling APC is backing his aspiration to unseat her brother.
“If we are in the same party, then the take is that she is supporting APC. We are close, talk as party members, and yes, I will say that she is supporting me and all our candidates. Her wish is for APC to win the election.”
Senator Bukola Saraki was quick to respond to the issues and not surprisingly dismissed his contender as a seasonal politician.
Speaking through his spokesman, Yusuph Olaniyonu, Saraki said:
“Dr. Ibrahim Oloriegbe is not a candidate in the senatorial election. Rather, he is the candidate of a faction in the APC, the Bolarinwa faction, which the court, in a subsisting and unchallenged judgment, rejected and rather recognised the Balogun-Fulani faction.
“Oloriegbe belongs to a group of people known in Kwara State as ‘seasonal or visiting’ politicians. The people do not see them. They don’t relate with the people. They don’t help the people and their community until six months to the election when they move in noxious money, and they start printing posters.
“They have done this every election period. His present noise, as well as that of Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, Lai Mohammed and the rest, is not different from what they have been doing since 2003. The result will also not be different.”
Noting how Oloriegbe rode on the platform of the Sarakis to achieve his only political success in the state, he said that his election into the House of Assembly was sponsored by his illustrious father, the late Dr. Olusola Saraki.
Continuing, he said”If he, like others, has the sole agenda to destroy that dynasty without promising the people any developmental agenda, then, he has failed. He never promised the people anything good or developmental in nature. They only target Saraki. That ‘bring him down’ syndrome, empty envy, petty jealous are unislamic and contradictory to the true values of an Ilorin man.”
Noting that Oloriegbe chose to hold the press conference to distract him because of the heat he had turned on the APC and its presidential candidate, President Muhammadu Buhari during the campaigns, the Senate President said”After the effects of the violence unleashed on the Ilorin people by their thugs was roundly condemned and the people refused to have deterred, they created a groundswell of noise, which will create panic and help their rigging plan in the elections. After all, it is known that you cannot rig where you are not popular.”
Affirming that Kwara Central will not vote for seasonal politicians, he concluded:
“They are not with the people. When they lose this election, they will return to Abuja, Lagos and come back in 2023. Kwara people have coined a counter-slogan against them. They call it “O Tun Ya” – Let Us Do It Again.”