The Minister of State for Transportation, Gbemisola Saraki has said that the recent demolition of her father’s welfare home in Ilorin, can’t erase his legacy.
The structure which has a bungalow according to her was used to feed the older people weekly before and after the demise of the late political leader in the state, Olusola Saraki.
Gbemisola in a full statement titled: “Those Who Come To Equity Must Come With Clean Hands”, The Demolition of Ile Arugbo said she had refrained from commenting on the actions of the Governor, AbdulaRahman Abdulrasaq which she claimed is at erasing the legacy of the Sarakis and didn’t want to get into any dispute with the governor despite being provoked.
“At 3:00 am Thursday 2″d of January 2020, the Governor of Kwara State, AbdulRahman AbduiRazaq, ordered the Police to open fire on aged women, at the contested welfare home, popularly known as “Ile Arugbo” (Home for Aged), owned by my father, Dr Abubakar Olusola Saraki.
“As a staunch and loyal member of APC, I have kept quiet to date on the happenings in my state, Kwara State. I had done this for a number of reasons Including trying to “keep my head when all about me are losing theirs”. But all in all, I had kept quiet, as being a loyal member and supporter of the party, I did not want to get into any squabble with the Governor despite so many provocations.
“Again, as a loyal and dedicated daughter of my father, Dr Abubakar Olusola Saraki whom I hold in very high esteem, I did not want to express my opinion on the propriety of the Governor’s recent political actions as it would be seen as biased because the late Waziri is my father.”
Speaking further, she said recent events and the violent nature of the Governor’s position is making her to talk now, adding that there might exist some elements within the All Progressives Congress (APC), who wanted to change the Otoge narrative of the 2019 elections to be about the Sarakis and not about the removal of a failing PDP Administration.
She, therefore, urged Kwara State APC to be careful not to allow a few elements with their agenda, other than governance, to turn their vendetta into the official position of APC in the State.
“They must not be allowed to hijack the narrative of what our party stands for. The APC has, since its inception, preached and worked earnestly for genuine good governance, security, increased welfare, progress and development of the people, as exemplified by President Muhammadu Buhari, who in the face of direct provocation and deep personal attacks remains true to the oath he took to govern ALL Nigerians, in spite of allegiances.
“That is why it is important that my silence is not misconstrued as tacit approval or support for the actions taken by the Governor.”
Gbemi who said the matter should have gone through the proper forum and due process to ascertain and establish her father’s legal rights or otherwise pointed that her family individually and collectively have never derived and continue not to derive any commercial benefit from that piece of land.
“At the end of the day, what is on that land is nothing -no block of flats that the family is getting rent from; no office building, no factory, or any other commercial venture — just a bungalow where the old women gather and get their basic needs attended to.
“Nonetheless, were my father alive today, surely, he would have been saddened to see bulldozers in lie Arugbo. However, I am comforted by the knowledge that my father’s good work and his respect, support and love for the aged, which was sadly lacking in the Governor’s activities on Thursday, cannot be erased by demolishing a bungalow. When it comes down to it, Ile Arugbo is a piece of bare land that holds a symbolic value of what my father stood for – humanitarianism, and that doesn’t start nor end with a building.
“But after the events of Thursday when the aged women were tear-gassed and shot at in the wee hours of the morning (3:00 AM), I do not want my silence to be misconstrued, as mischief-makers have used that silence to attribute false statements allegedly made by me.
“The level of force and violence that the Governor chose to adopt was unwarranted. What resistance to protest justifies firing live ammunition and tear-gassing old women? Even my own personal home was not left out of the attack as numerous empty bullet shell casings, and dispersed tear gas canisters were found inside my house.
“I feel that at this point not only as a child of the late Waziri but as a member of the APC, I need to speak. I do so not only as a daughter but as a member of the party, to ensure that those thousands of members of APC who are Sarakites that supported the OToGe Movement are not alienated. In addition, I do so to ensure that the resounding victory that APC enjoyed in Kwara is not short-lived or diminished.”
While noting that governments have the power to acquire properties, even compulsorily without necessarily resorting to unprovoked violent attacks in the dead of night, Gbemisola said it disrespectful to her personally, as a member of the APC since 2015, who welcomed and supported those who only joined the party a couple of months to the elections, which includes the Governor himself.
“My position as a member of the party was not given any consideration and regard when approaching this issue.
“Furthermore, given how well and how long I have personally known the Governor beyond Kwara State, so much so that I have always regarded him as one of my older brothers. Even in the political arena, over the years, we have known each other as political opponents and allies, and I have always accorded him the respect which he has not accorded me.
“As one of the APC leaders in the State, I have consulted broadly and have also sent messages appealing to party members not to be provoked by this unwarranted assault on my late father. I do this with all sense of responsibility so that party cohesion and unity is not undermined by arbitrariness to rush into an attempt to settle perceived old generational family political scores. Revenge cannot be a policy thrust of governance.”
She, therefore, appealed to her supporters to remain calm and maintain peace in the face of unwarranted provocation while also condemning in totality the actions taken by Governor AbdulRahman, especially unleashing terror and mayhem on innocent, defenceless aged women merely exercising their right to protest peacefully.
Gbemisola also called on the Inspector-General of Police and the State Commissioner of Police to order over the use of security agencies and live ammunition to settle political and personal scores, saying it is not what the Buhari Administration is about.
“We must stand up against vindictive politics, driven by envy, motivated by jealousy and practised without integrity,” she added.