Minister of State, Transportation and daughter of the late former Senate leader, Dr. Olusola Saraki, Gbemisola Saraki, has condemned the demolition,Thursday of a bungalow in Ilorin, Kwara State, known as Ile Arugbo, used by her father to cater to the needs of old women.
The Kwara State Government , last week,revoked the Certificate of Occupancy and acquired rights to the large piece of land where the bungalow stood.
At about 3:00 AM on January 2, it sent a detachment of policemen to dislodge the old women, alledgedly using tear gas and shooting sporadically with live bullets, before demolishing the building.
Gbemisola,in a statement yesterday, said she was compelled to break her silence for the first time since she received the disturbing news.
She said the dastardly act would not erase the unprecedented humanitarian work done by her late father, the Waziri of Ilorin, and urged the Inspector General of Police to call the Commissioner of Police in Kwara State to order “and not to be a willing tool in the hand of people out on personal vendetta.”
According to the statement, Gbemisola, who is also an APC chieftain in Kwara State, said, “I condemn in totality the actions taken on Thursday 2nd January 2020 by Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRasaq, especially unleashing terror and mayhem on innocent defenseless aged women simply exercising their right to peacefully protest.
“I call upon the Inspector General of Police to call the State Commissioner of Police to order – using security agencies and live ammunition to settle political and personal scores is not what the Buhari Administration is about.”
“At 3:00am Thursday 2nd of January 2020, the Governor of Kwara State, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, gave orders to 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 was my father.”
Gbemi Saraki said she had to speak now, given the turn of events and the violent nature of the Governor’s position, adding, “There might have been some elements within my party, APC, who wanted to change the ‘Otoge’ narrative of the 2019 elections to be about the Sarakis, and not about what it was – the removal of a failing PDP Administration.
“But clearly by some recent steps taken, especially with Thursday’s actions, Kwara State APC must be careful not to allow a few elements with their own agenda, other than governance, to turn their personal 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, she said had, 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,” she said, adding that she “chose to refrain from commenting on the onset of this land saga and did so for three reasons: I believed that this was a matter that would go through the rightful forum and due process to ascertain and establish my father’s legal rights or otherwise.
“My family, individually and/or 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 Ile 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 of Thursday, simply cannot be erased by demolishing a bungalow. When it comes down to it, Ile Arugbo is a piece of bare land that holds symbolic value of what my father stood for – humanitarianism, and that doesn’t start nor end with a building.”