Three former heads of state, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida and Gen. Abubakar Abdulsalam were in Ilorin, yesterday, to condole with the family of the late former Second Republic Senate leader, Dr. Abubakar Olusola Saraki.
Gen. Buhari came visited in the company of former House of Representatives’ speaker, Aminu Bello Masari while Gen Babangida came with Gen. Abdulsalam and former secretary to the government of the federation, Ambassador Baba Gana Kingibe.
Speaking during the visit, Gen. Babangida described the late political icon and Waziri of Ilorin, Dr. Abubakar Olusola Saraki, as a man of honour and integrity.
The former military president urged Nigerian leaders to emulate the exemplary conduct of the late politician, who he noted used his wealth to better the lots of the down trodden.
He added, “Waziri’s death is not only a loss to people of Ilorin alone but to Nigerians at large. He touched so many lives. In fact, I’m a beneficiary of the late Saraki’s humour. He tried so much.
“Saraki came to this life, we saw what he did, people talk about his good deeds and it is my belief that with these testimonies, God will grant him eternal rest”.
Gen Buhari described the late politician as a great man who spent his life catering for the needs of his people.
He urged the children of the late politician to sustain the enviable legacies of their father.
Various political parties, interest groups, notable politicians and state governors have sent their condolences to the Saraki family and people of Kwara State.
While the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) described his passage as the loss of a political guru and the beginning of the gradual extraction of the last Mohegan, opposition party, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) said the late politician would be missed by all in the political battlefield.
In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party also described Dr. Saraki as a “colossus who possessed an efficient political machinery that he used effectively to rally the people.”
”Dr. Saraki defined his era, and since his entry into politics several decades ago, politics has never been the same again, especially in his native Kwara state, where he became synonymous with the politics of the state” the party stated.
The Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babatunde Fashola in his reaction, titled “the nation has lost a colourful compassionate politician”, stated that “indeed, Nigeria has lost a political giant whose counsel is most certainly needed, particularly at this period when our budding democracy is cutting its teeth and taking its challenging steps towards consolidation.”
Meanwhile, the PDP likened the death of the Second Republic Senate Leader, to the “gradual extinction of the last of the Mohegians.”
A statement by the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Chief Olisa Metuh said Nigeria has lost a political guru and a Titan who compared in every respect with the generation of the independent Nigerian leaders.
“Here was a fine medical doctor, philanthropist, humanist and an astute politician. Here, most importantly was a game changer, a man who changed the destiny of his people. Like the great Zik of Africa, like Ahmadu Bello and like Awo, he was.”
Also, the Northern States Governors Forum (NSGF) commiserated with the government and people of Kwara State over the demise, describing it as the “exit of a titan.”
A statement signed by the chairman of the forum and Governor of Niger State, Muazu Aliyu, the forum noted that “the fact that the Dr Saraki passed on at a time of increasing intolerance in the country makes his death more painful, considering his leading role in ensuring peace and unity in Kwara State, the North and Nigeria as a whole.”
The Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu described his death as a grave loss to the nation and exit of a people’s democrat.