By Demola Akinyem
iILORIN—Preparatory to the final taking over of the now controversial land ,the eventual demolition of the small bungalow, tagged ‘’Ile-Arugbo’’ constructed on the expansive land of the late politician,Dr Abubaka Olusola Saraki inthe early hours of last Thursday by Kwara state government has thrown up critical issues over the controversy.
Already,the Kwara state government has expressed curiosity about the agitations of the former Senate President,Dr Bukola Saraki over the revocation of the controversial land on which ‘’Ile-Arugbo’small bungalow was constructed to meet the needs of aged women, who were his supporters.Commissioner for Communications Alhaji Muritala Olanrewaju told Saturday Vanguard in an interview that based on the resolution of the state Assembly,the state government had earlier acquired his more expensive Alimi Chalet property, located at GRA, Ilorin for the state government, without any opposition while another of his property along Abdulkadir road is being currently contested with himby the officers of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission[EFCC].He particularly noted that the land in contest was actually released to his late father in 2005 when Dr Bukola Saraki was the governor of kwara state.The commissioner also cited 9th June 2005 when the application for Right of Occupancy was submitted by the late politician but that there was no where in the record where any payment was made till today.‘’The controversy over this is therefore obvious, it’s because Dr Bukola Saraki merely wants to score very cheap political point with this, but again all the facts are for the public to discern.
The landin question doesn’t belong to him,why didn’t he fight over the ones that belongedto him that the kwara state government has acquired before now? he queried.The commissioner noted that the administration of Brigadier General David Bamigboye had acquired the said land from Jiddas family in Ilorin with the intention of building phase 11 of the state secretariat having earlier constructed phase 1.He however said that the construction of the Phase 11 on the land had actually commenced and reached an advanced stage before it was abandoned by previous administrations because of lack of fund,following which the late politician started requesting for the land.But on the fateful day,apparently oblivious of the state government demolition plan, no fewer than fifty aged women were mobilized to the area late Wednesday afternoon displaying their grey hairs while protesting against the planned action.Saturday Vanguard further gathered that the aged women did not leave the scene until they were dispersed around 10pm sameday by the team of anti riot mobile police officers who had been drafted to provide security at the controversial land .Saturday Vanguard also gathered that the demolition was particularly effected sooner than expected because of the planned court action of Sarakis family andother stakeholders,to stave off possible court action against the state government plan to take over the land.The Director General of the State’s Bureauof Lands Ibrahim Salman earlier in a press statement on Wednesday also clarified that no Right of Occupancy was ever issued to Asa Investment through which the late politician acquired the land.The statement added that the land was consequently acquired by the state government in 1970s in the overriding public interest and was designed to construct the Phase 11 of the state secretariat which was indeed constructed but later abandoned at the superstructure level.It also said that it was after the project was abandoned that Asa Investment took over the land to build what is now referredto as, ’’Ile Arugbo’’ by Dr Abubakar Olusola Saraki,where the politician used tomeet his supporters and also give food items to aged women.According to the statement,
’’”The entire land was acquired in the 1970s for Overriding Public Interest and same was initially designed to host the phase II of the State Secretariat. The construction of the said State Secretariat Phase II was actually commenced and it was at superstructure level before same was abandoned,”“The entire land was later redesigned in the 1980s for the construction of a Civil Service Clinic, State Secretariat, and a parking lot for both the Clinic and the State Secretariat.“The Clinic was subsequently constructedin 1982, while the remaining plots of land were conceived for the expansion of the Clinic into a full-fledged Hospital.
“The dream of the State Government was stalled when part of the land slated for theparking lot was spuriously allocated in principle to one Asa Investment for commercial purpose.‘’From available records, the allocation was not based on a formal application, norapplication forms filled; there was no evidence of payment for the said allocation as stipulated in the letter of allocation in principle and consequently, no right of occupancy was ever issued to the Company.“Furthermore, in flagrant abuse of the allocation terms, the company took possession of the land and constructed what is today known as “Ile Arugbo” on part of the land that was designed as parking lot and later conceived to host the expansion of the Civil Service Clinic into a full-fledged Hospital.“Following a resolution of the Kwara State House of Assembly mandating him to revoke/withdraw the spurious allocation, Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq recently signed an instrument to reclaim the land on the ground that same was unlawfully allocated to a private Company contrary to the public purpose of its acquisition and occupied in breach of the terms of allocation.“This (press) release is intended to state the facts on the land recently revoked/withdrawn by the state government as contained in our records.”The statement concluded.But the former Senate president and the first child of the late politician, Dr Bukola Saraki in a statement titled,’’Revocation of Late Saraki’s Land:
‘Abdulrasaq Has Crossed the Line’ countered that Kwara State Governor, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq has crossed the line of decency with his recent efforts to erase the legacies of his (Saraki’s) late father, Dr. Abubakar OlusolaSaraki.Saraki, in the statement he personally signed stated that the war of attrition waged against the legacy of his father andeverything that belongs to the late politician simply portrayed the Governor as a man who lacks the sense of history and set out only to fight the Saraki family but not to serve the interest of Kwarans.“Yesterday night, the Kwara State Governor, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq finallyshowed his true colour when he announced his decision to revoke the ownership of a property rightfully held by my late father, Dr. Olusola Abubakar Saraki on Plots 1, 3 and 5 Ilofa Road, GRA, Ilorin popularly known as Ile Arugbo, (Old People’s home) which since the Second Republic, has always been used to host the weekly gathering of a multitude of aged people in the society who are provided food, money and health services,as part of the social welfare programme sponsored by the late politician. The tradition has since been maintained.“Before now, this same Governor had invited all the members of the State House of Assembly and directed them to commence the process of amending the law to change the name of the State University which the last administration renamed after my late father, Dr. AbubakarOlusola Saraki. He then followed up on this act of vengeance by initiating a bill to rename the University and expunge the name of the late Dr. Abubakar Olusola Saraki. Now, he has decided to also revoke the titles of the landed property which belongs to the late politician. May be, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq thinks his will be the last administration in Kwara State but definitely, this is self delusion.“The property had been rightfully allocatedto my late father under the name of one ofhis companies, Asa Investment Limited, since the 1980s and contrary to the claim of the Governor, the land was properly allocated and a Right of Occupancy title issued on it. It should be noted that the excuse given by Abdulrazaq in his revocation order holds no water since it is clear that this is the height of his vengeance against my father, Dr. Abubakar Olusola Saraki and I.
“Till today, many Kwarans have been wondering what problem the Governor has with the late Oloye Abubakar Olusola Saraki or what the late politician did to offend him.
It is surprising that of all vacant plots of land in strategic places across Ilorin township, the one that Abdulrahman found useful for his vengeful plan is the one owned by late Dr. Saraki. It is beyond comprehension why a Governor would set as his main agenda the objective of undermining and waging awar of attrition against a man who is no longer around.“This action is clearly a manifestation of vengeance and it shows that this Governor is not out to serve any public purpose or pursue any development agenda. In his narrow-mindedness, he believes his victory at the polls is an empowerment, entitlement and enablement to settle scores, provoke and pursue inter-family rivalry.
Those who voted for the party in power in Kwara Stateand Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq obviously did not vote for the man to enable him wage war against Dr. Olusola Saraki and his legacies. They expected development and fulfillment of promises.”If the Governor believes people are not taking stock of his misguided and deceptive actions and that because he is in power, he could do whatever he likes, he must be a joker.
Also, this war against the Sarakis will not successfully veil his unpreparedness for governance and divert people’s attention from the glaring lack of visionary, clear-cut plan to deliver on his empty promises to the people. He definitely cannot get away with all the atrocities he has been committing.“Since the outcome of the elections in March, despite the fact that there are cleargrounds to challenge the results in court, Ihave decided to demonstrate maturity, statemanship and sportsmanship.
I have chosen not to make comment on the policies, programmes and actions of the administration in Kwara State or that of itshead. Also, I deliberately stayed away fromthe State to avoid creating any distraction for the administration. My decision is borne out of a genuine restraint to enable the administration settle down and fulfill its numerous promises to the people of our state.“However, seven months down the line, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq has shown that its cardinal Programme is to wage war against my late father and I.
He has demonstrated that his only competence and astuteness is in the area of viciously assailing the late Oloye Saraki and I. Definitely, he is a man with no sense of history. Enough is enough. Now, he has crossed the line.“Perhaps, I should let it be known that if Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq thinks he is taking all these actions to get at me, he is only deceiving himself. There is no basis for competition between us. Our paths cannot cross because the status that he isstruggling to attain, Almighty Allah has given it to me many years before now.
I became Governor 16 years before him and served out my constitutional limit of eight years.Within the period, I was Chairman of Nigerian Governors Forum. I have moved on to serve in the federal legislature and by the grace of God, I headed the National Assembly as the number three man in the country. No matter, how well he tried to rewrite history, it is on record that I left Kwara State a lot better than I met it. In fact, the University that he is struggling to rename was established by my administration as just one out of many legacies we left behind.
This Governor needs a lot more efforts, years, Intelligence and resources to attain the level Allah has taken me, not to talk of my late father, Dr. Olusola Abubakar Saraki, the Senate Leader in the Second Republic.As Governor, I used the position to serve the people and during the period I did not dishonour his own father or anybody’s father for that matter.”Just as I did after the election, my advise to Gov. Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq that he should devote his time and energy to providing good governance and genuine development of the state.“It is well known to the Governor that I fearnobody, except Almighty Allah, the ultimate owner of all powers. With all his subterranean and open moves against myfamily, person and property, I remain unmoved.
However, his open antagonism against my late father and his legacies is unwarranted and will not be tolerated. He has definitely gone beyond bounds as he cannot be allowed to ride roughshod on the deceased. In this war against my late father, he will not win.“This Governor has shown that he is not a man who wants peace, co-operation and development. He believes that a constant attack on my family and I is all that he needs to win the hearts of Kwara people.
The need to provide good governance is secondary to him.“However, it should be made clear to Abdulrazaq and his administration that their attack on my late father cannot erasethe legacies of Oloye. No evil design, negative plot or propaganda can successfully rewrite the history of Kwara State.This plot against my late father will not stand. And I will like to make it clear that we will contest this petty, malicious, dubious and bias action of a parochial, vicious and vindictive administration through all legal means. We are sure this is not an action taken in public interest. Rather, it is done in pursuit of a selfish and devious objective”, Saraki stated.
With the final demolition of the house and Saraki going to court to challenge the state action,the battle line has been drawn.