Ile Arugbo: Beyond Governance Of Repositioning And Restoration
As a young undergraduate of University of Ilorin back then around 2005/2006, one of such lifestyles I enjoyed most was that of Ilorin, the Kwara state capital. Not because of anything but because of the calmness in the city, conducive atmosphere and not too expensive lifestyle.
One major attraction then was the Ile Arugbo where mostly on Fridays elderly people used to visit to get their daily means as well as gifts from no other person but Baba Oloye himself, Senator Olusola Saraki, the former Senate Leader of Nigeria.
But I was so dazed and surprised on hearing of the demolition of the place by the current governor claiming the property was acquired illegally as at the time.
For whatever reason this action might had been taken, I think there should had been a rethink considering the effect and implication of this unexpected action by the government of Kwara state.
This state is not known to be an economic viable state but a state which can be likened to states like Kastina, Borno, Sokoto because of its large population of “talakawa’s” poor people who mostly depends on their wealthy people like Late Sola Saraki for their daily living hence my surprise to the demolition of Ile Arugbo.
Few weeks ago, the Committee on the Review of sales of Kwara Government property from 1999 to date declared that there is no proof of payment or Right of Occupancy on the expanse of land where late Dr Olusola Saraki built his Ile
Arugbo (old peoples home) in Ilorin.
The administration had set up the 15- man committee to look into about 90 properties looted in the state. It was headed by former Kwara State Chief Judge, Raliat Elelu, with a director at the Governor’s Office, Shuaib AbdulGaniyu, as secretary.
The probe panel set up to investigate the handling of public assets since 1999.
AbdulRasaq while reviewing the recommendations of the panel said the revelations from the report of the committee was so damning and that he was left with no other choice but to act in public interest. He said the state was stripped of the necessary accommodation to host visiting dignitaries.
Since the demolition, there has been reaction and counter reactions but one thing is certain, the Saraki’s are not happy with the demolition.
Sen. Makanjuola Ajadi, the Chairman of the committee, disclosed this in Ilorin while briefing newsmen on the controversy surrounding government’s reclamation of the Ile Arugbo land.
In all honesty,It is a known fact that AbdulRazaq and Saraki families in the so many years of existence of Kwara state have huge influence in the state because of their very rich credentials and huge contributions to the development of the State.
Meanwhile, there has been an observable strained, no love lost, relationship between the two families, reputed to have been passed down by their patriarchs, Alhaji AbdulGaniyu Folorunso (AGF) AbdulRazaq, an iconic legal luminary and the late Dr. Oloye Olusola Saraki, a renown political juggernaut in his days.
The rivalry between the two powerful Kwara families manifested in an interview granted by Alhaji AbdulRazaq sometimes around 2010, where he claimed that the Saraki family was not from Ilorin. The distinguished diplomat then said that Dr. Olusola Saraki’s father, the late Alhaji Muttahiru Saraki, who was a businessman across West Africa, had informed him about their ancestry during a discussion.
The families before now have always been on opposing sides of the political
spectrum, contesting against each other in elections for decades.
In 1979 Alhaji AbdulRazaq contested the gubernatorial election under the Great Nigeria People’s Party (GNPP), while Saraki sponsored Adamu Attah under the
National Party of Nigeria (NPN); also, in 1999, Dr. Alimi Abdulrazak contested
for the Kwara governorship under the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) against
the Saraki sponsored retired Admiral Mohammed Lawal of the All People’s
In 2003, Bukola Saraki contested for governorship of Kwara State under the
PDP, against AbdulRazak’s in-law, Mohammed Lawal; and in 2011
AbdulRahman AbdulRazak constested under the Congress for Progressive
Change (CPC) against the Bukola Saraki sponsored Fatai Ahmed of PDP. Later
in 2015 AbdulRahman AbdulRazak contested for the Senate under the PDP
against Bukola Saraki of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The late Saraki (May 17, 1933 to November 14, 2012) was a senator during the Second Republic (1979 to 1983). Until his demise, the ‘Olooye’, as he was popularly known, was regarded as the godfather of Kwara politics. After
installing other persons as governors, he made his son, Bukola, governor in 2003.
Since the issue came to the public domain, a lot of views have been expressed.
Many see the development as a payback time for Saraki, for all his political sins. The former ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) appears to have lost its voice, after it lost power to the APC.
But, the demolition of Ile Arugbo is an opportunity for the party to let people know that it is still existing. The party in a statement by its chairman, Kola Shittu, said the action of the governor was uncalled for.
Political observers recall the havoc which the Saraki dynasty has caused the people, by enslaving them for decades before the baton was passed from father to son. They say the family had enslaved the people for decades, condemning them to poverty and penury.,
But one thing is certain in all these, Ile Arugbo will forever remain an issue in Kwara state politics not because it was demolished for public good, but it was demolished for an agenda that goes beyond politics and governance but for settling superiority scores that many Kwarans may not even be interested.
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