BIRTHDAY SPECIAL: #SarakiAt55, Focused, Unstoppable, Breaking Records

If there is one politician in Nigeria who has had many distractions in a calendar year but has been so productive then the name Abubakar Bukola Saraki, Nigeria’s Senate President is it!

ALEDEH Team celebrate with Nigerians this icon of history, Abubakar Bukola Saraki, one of Nigeria’ finest politicians. Some have even gone ahead to call him the best Senate President Nigeria has had so far.

Nigeria’s Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki celebrating his 55th birthday with his wife, Toyin Bukola and other Senators at the National Assembly complex in Abuja on Tuesday, December 19, 2017. Photo credit: Twitter.

Born December 19, 1962, to the family of Olusola Saraki, a senator (1979–1983) and a onetime Senate Leader of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and his mother Florence Morenike, Bukola rose from the position of the Special Assistant to the President on Budget to the position of the President of the Nigerian Senate.

A peep into Saraki’s life at 55 as a former governor of Kwara state and current President of the Nigerian Senate, shows that he remains a “record breaker in the face of many obstacles”.

Saraki’s Academic Background:

Saraki was educated at King’s College, Lagos, Southwest Nigeria, 1973 to 1978, and Cheltenham Colege, Cheltenham, London from 1979 to 1981 for his High School Certificate. He then proceeded to the London Hospital Medical College of the University of London from 1982 to 1987, where he obtained his M.B.B.S (London).

Saraki’s Career:

Before politics

Saraki worked as a medical officer at Rush Green Hospital, Essex, from 1988 to 1989. He was a director of Societe Generale Bank Bank (Nig) Ltd from 1990 to 2000.

Political:

Saraki was appointed the Special Assistant to the President on Budget in 200 by President Olusegun Obasanjo. He initiated the Fiscal Responsibility Bill. Saraki also served on the Economic Policy Coordination Committee, where he was responsible for the formulation and implementation of several key economic policies for Nigeria.

Three (3) years later, he ran for the office of governor of Kwara State on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and won. He ran again for re-election in 2007 and won his second term.

As governor of Kwara, Saraki led reforms in agriculture, health, education, finance and environment policy. One of his major achievements was inviting displaced white farmers from Zimbabwe to Kwara State and offering them an opportunity to farm. This led to the establishment of Shonga Farms programme, which is now being replicated across Nigeria. Saraki was also appointed the Chairman of the Governors’ Forum.

Under Saraki’s Chairmanship, a reformed Forum was established, with a fully resourced secretariat, with a technical and administrative division that was entirely focused on delivery.

Saraki As The Silent But Good Representative Of Kwara Central At The Senate:

Saraki ran for the office of Senator, representing the Kwara Central Senatorial District after a two-term tenure as governor of Kwara state.

He won the election, succeeding his sister, Gbemisola Saraki and was appointed as the chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Ecology and also a member of the Senate Committee on Capital Markets and Finance.

Senator Saraki pushed a motion in the Senate to end the fuel subsidy regime in Nigeria, which has been an excessive waste of the country’s national resources and campaigned extensively on health, food security, education and the environment.

The Kwara Central Senatorial District lawmaker argued for strengthened laws on the cleanup of oil spills. His National Oil Spill and Detection and Response Agency Amendment Bill sought to ensure oil companies paid appropriate levels of compensation to communities affected by oil spills.

He intervened in the lead poisoning crisis in Zamfara state in 2010 and has supported to the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, which ensures safe and healthy methods of cooking for millions of Nigerians while conserving the environment through reduced deforestation.

Saraki was a lead campaigner in the areas of desertification and climate change in the Senate and across Nigeria and sponsored a motion on the floor of the Senate to end Nigeria’s fuel subsidy regime. He also sponsored other motions and private member bills which includes the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency Amendment Bill 2012, aimed at putting a halt to oil spills in the Niger Delta, the Gas Flaring Prohibition Bill 2012 and the Climate Change Commission Bill 2013.

Best Senate President

After being reelected in 2015, Saraki was on 9 June 2015 elected unopposed as President of the Senate by an across the party alliance comprising Peoples Democratic Party and All Progressives Congress Senators. He had faced stiff opposition from Senator Ahmed Ibrahim Lawan who was a preferred candidate by a group of senators-elect within the APC.

As the Senate President, Saraki has steered the most united National Assembly this he proved by leading a delegation of Senators to Maiduguri, Borno State on 3 August 2015 to get an on-ground assessment of the damage done in the north-eastern part of Nigeria by terrorist group Boko-Haram and to give hope to internally displaced persons, a delegation which was the first of its kind by the leadership of the Senate since the insurgency began.

Saraki has since become the “Best Senate President” Nigeria has ever proposed due to the achievements recorded by the Nigerian Senate under his leadership.

As the leader of the 8th Senate, Saraki has floored the 5th, 6th and 7th Senate of the Federal Republic thus earning the title of the “Best Senate President“.

The 8th Senate has passed ninety-six (96) bills in (2) two years, more than the previous sessions of the Senate.

The current Nigerian Senate under Saraki’s leadership has received about 394 bills in two years of which 96 of them have been passed into law.

Since 2015, about 394 bills have been presented to the 8th Senate with the majority of these at advanced stages of processing into legislative enactments. This surpasses the previous Senates, the 5th Senate received 370 bills, the 6th Senate had 255 all in four years respectively.

Similarly, the 8th Senate under Saraki’s leadership, towers above the previous ones with the 5th senate passing a total of sixty-five (65) bills in four years, 6th Senate, made twenty-three (23) bills, the 7th senate had twenty (28) bills all in four years, while the 8th Senate polled ninety-six (96) bills in two years.

The 8th Senate has also passed twenty-nine (29) Constitutional Amendment Bills, raising hope of positively amending some parts of the constitution.

The 8th Senate received some one hundred and ninety-five (195) requests from the presidency in the form of confirmation of executive appointments, approval of loans and other executive functions, ratifying over one hundred and eighty-eight (188) of such requests with just seven (7)  outstanding.

Saraki’s Distractions:

It’s imperative to note that despite his achievements as the President of the Nigerian Senate, he had the most distractions faced by any Senate President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. In September 2015, the Code of Conduct Bureau cited a 13-count charge of corruption against Saraki. The Senate President was accused of offences ranging from the anticipatory declaration of assets to making false declaration of assets. He was also accused of failing to declare some assets he acquired while in office as governor, acquiring assets beyond his legitimate earnings, and accused of operating foreign accounts while being a public officer.

Saraki’s distractions deepened that same year after he became the first Senate President in Nigeria to be issued with arrest warrants, when the Chairman of the Code Of Conduct Tribunal, Danladi Umar issued an arrest warrant against Saraki on September 18, 2015.

On March 18, 2016, Saraki’s lead counsel and ex-attorney general of Nigeria, Kanu Godwin Agabi, led a delegation of 79 attorneys to defend Saraki at the tribunal.

Nigeria’s anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, also indicted Saraki some of his aides in the alleged laundering of up to N3.5 billion from the Paris Club Loan Refund. The EFCC investigation was presented to President Buhari in a reported delivered on March 10th, 5 days before the Senate rejected acting EFCC chairman, Ibrahim Magu.

On Wednesday, June 14th, 2017, the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) sitting in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, discharged and acquitted Saraki, in the 18 count charge of corruption in the false declaration of assets charge brought against him in September 2015 by the Nigerian government.

The tribunal held that the evidence proffered against Saraki by the Nigerian government was bereft of probate value and manifestly unreliable to hold the charges against the defendant. The chairman of the tribunal said the prosecution at the close of the case failed to establish a prima facie case against the defendant. Umar said the four witnesses called by the prosecution to testify in the matter gave contradictory evidence that was manifestly unreliable to convict the defendant or order him to enter his defence.

Umar further said that the report of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) put at the disposal of the tribunal was more of intelligence gathering rather than conventional investigation. He said to worsen the case, the defendant was never invited or be made to make a statement so that truth can be unearthed if there are allegations against him.

On Tuesday, December 12, an Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal, ordered Saraki’s retrial before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).

The Appellate Court also dismissed 15 out of the 18 counts of false assets declaration instituted against the Senate President in the appeal by Nigeria’s anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

The three counts are counts 4, 5, and 6, which border on the purchase of No 17A and B MacDonald Street, Ikoyi, Lagos, which he allegedly acquired by bank loan facility from a commercial bank but declared in the form to have been bought from proceeds of the sale of rice and sugar.

Justice Tinuade Akomolafe-Wilson, who read the lead judgment, held that “it is my belief that credible evidence was led by the prosecution in respect of counts 4, 5, and 6. And it is hereby ordered that the three counts be remitted back to the CCT for retrial.”

Saraki As The Silent Pillar Of The APC

At the time the All Progressives Congress, APC- Federal Government is receiving enormous backlashes from Nigerians, Saraki has remained the stabilizing factor in the ruling party due to the swift responses the Nigerian Senate under his leadership has given to most topical issues in the country, including the ongoing campaign to scrap the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS.

Saraki’s Interactivity With Nigerians On Socials

Though it is difficult to find a Nigerian politician who will interact with Nigerians on social media, Saraki has broken that jinx as he is always found interacting with Nigerians on socials on topical issues in the country.

Youthful In Action Not Just In Words:

While many politicians will claim to be interested in youths developments and yet do nothing to back up their words, Saraki has shown an exemplary leadership as he is not only youthful in words but in action as he has lots of youths working with him.

Saraki’s Marital Life:

He is happily married to Toyin, (née Ojora) Saraki, and they are blessed with four (4) children together.

Happy 55th birthday, Abubakar Bukola Saraki, one of the finest politicians and the best Senate President Nigeria has ever produced…from (ALEDEH Team).

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Philips Sunday

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