Bukola Saraki

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Bukola Saraki
Bukola Saraki, October 2017 (cropped).jpg
Saraki in October 2017
President of the Nigerian Senate
In office
9 June 2015 – 11 June 2019
DeputyIke Ekweremadu
Preceded byDavid Mark
Succeeded byAhmed Ibrahim Lawan
Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
In office
29 May 2011 – 11 June 2019
Preceded byGbemisola Saraki
Succeeded byIbrahim Yahaya Oloriegbe
ConstituencyKwara Central Senatorial District
Governor of Kwara State
In office
29 May 2003 – 29 May 2011
Preceded byMohammed Alabi Lawal
Succeeded byAbdulfatah Ahmed
Personal details
Born
Olubukola Abubakar Saraki

(1962-12-19) 19 December 1962 (age 57)
London, United Kingdom
NationalityNigerian
Political partyPeople's Democratic Party (2000–2014; 2018–present)
Other political
affiliations
All Progressives Congress (2014–2018)
Spouse(s)Toyin Saraki
ParentsOlusola Saraki
Alma materLondon Hospital Medical College
ProfessionPhysician and Politician

Olubukola Abubakar Saraki, MBBS, CON (born 19 December 1962) is a Nigerian politician who was the 13th President of the Senate of Nigeria from 2015 to 2019 and Chair of the 8th Nigeria National Assembly. He was previously the Governor of Kwara State from 2003 to 2011; and was elected to the Senate in 2011, under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), representing the Kwara Central Senatorial District, and then re-elected in the 2015 general elections under the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).[1]

He left the ruling party, All Progressive Congress (APC) and returned back to his former party People's Democratic Party (PDP) becoming an opposition leader, on 31 July 2018.[2] Saraki declared his presidential campaign for the PDP presidential ticket in the 2019 election,[3] but lost the primaries to Atiku Abubakar. He was subsequently announced as the director general of Atiku Abubakar's presidential campaign for the 2019 presidential election, which he lost to incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari.[4]

Family[edit]

Olubukola Abubakar Saraki was born on 19 December 1962 in London[5] to his mother Florence Morenike Saraki and his father Olusola Saraki, who was a Senator in the Second Nigerian Republic. Bukola Saraki is married to Toyin Saraki (née Ojora), they have four children together.[6]

Education[edit]

Saraki was educated at King's College, Lagos, where he graduated in 1978. He attended Cheltenham College, a public boarding school in the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1981. He then proceeded to London Hospital Medical College of the University of London from 1982 to 1987, where he received a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery.[7]

Early career[edit]

Saraki worked as a medical officer at Rush Green Hospital, Essex, from 1988 to 1989. He was a director of Société Générale Bank (Nig) Ltd from 1990 to 2000.[8] In 2000, President Olusegun Obasanjo appointed Saraki as Special Assistant to the President on Budget.[9][10]

Governor of Kwara State[edit]

In 2003, Bukola Saraki ran for Governor of Kwara State on the platform of the People's Democratic Party (PDP) defeating the incumbent Governor Muhammed Lawal of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP). On 29 May 2003, he was sworn into office and was re-elected in 2007.[11]

As governor of Kwara, Saraki led reforms in agriculture, infrastructure,[12] health,[13] education, power generation[14] 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.[15] This led to the establishment of Shonga Farms programme, which is now being replicated across Nigeria.[16] He was also appointed as the chairman of the Nigeria Governors' forum.[17]

Under Saraki, Kwara became the first state to complete the Nigeria Independent Power Project. In collaboration with the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, Saraki re-energised the Ganmo Power Station at Ilorin, and connected over 3750 rural communities to the national grid through the development and installation of 725 transformers and 7 substations.[14] Kwara also completed 4 electrification projects which meant power became stable 18–22 hours a day. 90% of people living in Kwara have access to electricity, compared to a national average in Nigeria of 30%.[18]

In 2007, Saraki became Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum. As chairman, Saraki increased his national influence and he led efforts for a more reformed and unified relationship with other states governors.[19] The Forum also developed better and more extensive polio immunisation in Nigeria.[20][21] Signing a number of Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs), with a number of international organizations including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, World Bank, DFID, GAVI, UNICEF, UNDP.[22]

Senator[edit]

In 2011, after the completion of his two term tenure as Governor of Kwara State, Saraki ran for Senator representing the Kwara Central Senatorial District. He won, succeeding his sister, Gbemisola Saraki-Forowa. He was appointed as the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Ecology and is also a member of the Senate Committee on Capital Markets and Finance. Senator Saraki has campaigned extensively on health, food security, education and the environment[23] - arguing for strengthened laws on the clean up of oil spills. In 2010, Saraki intervened in the lead poisoning crisis in Zamfara State in 2010.[24]

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.[25] Other motions and private member bills he has sponsored include the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency Amendment Bill 2012, the Gas Flaring Prohibition Bill 2012 and the Climate Change Commission Bill 2013.[26] In 2013, Saraki established GLOBE Nigeria as an affiliate of the Global Legislators Organisation for a Balanced Environment (GLOBE International), establishing a platform for legislators to advance environmental and sustainable development laws in Nigeria. He currently serves as GLOBE Nigeria's president.[27] Saraki has also spoken and campaigned internationally on issues such as better governance, deforestation and economic development.

President of the Senate[edit]

After his re-election in 2015 general elections, he was on 9 June 2015 elected unopposed as President of the Senate by an across the party alliance comprising PDP and APC Senators. Saraki had faced stiff opposition from Senator Ahmed Ibrahim Lawan who was a preferred candidate by a group of senators-elect within the APC.[28] His deputy, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, emerged after a tightly contested election. Senate President Bukola Saraki and a delegation of Senators visited 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. The delegation was the first of its kind by the leadership of the Senate since the insurgency began.[29]

During his presidency, the Senate under his leadership has surpassed all previous Senate's in Nigeria's history, passing 201 bills and clearing 138 public petitions. Recently, the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill which was passed by the Nigerian Senate was rejected by President Muhammadu Buhari stating that it reduces the President's powers. The bill had been passed by the Nigerian National Assembly to promote transparency and accountability in the industry.[30] On 6 June 2019, Saraki gave the valedictory speech at the final plenary of the 8th Senate.[31]

Elections[edit]

In 2011, Saraki declared his candidacy for the Peoples Democratic Party for the presidentially primaries, but later stepped down in support of the northern consensus candidate Atiku Abubakar. Saraki is currently a member of the People's Democratic Party (PDP) and was previously a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC). He defected from the All Progressives Congress on 31 July 2018, some days after 14 Senators defected to the opposition People's Democratic Party (PDP).[32] He blamed his defection on intolerance of the influential persons of his former party.[33] Saraki declared his presidential campaign for the PDP presidential ticket in the 2019 election,[3] but lost the primaries to Atiku Abubakar.

He was subsequently announced as the director general of Atiku Abubakar's presidential campaign for the 2019 presidential election,[4] which he lost to incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari.[34][35] In the O to Ge movement, Saraki lost his Kwara Senatorial seat to APC's Dr. Ibrahim Oloriegbe. He polled a total of 68,994 votes against Oloriegbe's 123,808 votes in the four Local Government Areas of Kwara Central Senatorial District, leaving a margin of 54,814 votes.[36][37]

Corruption[edit]

The political career of Saraki has been marked by a series of corruption allegations against his person, none of which has ever been substantiated.[38] He has consistently fought and rejected all claims of corruption against his person, and has won a series of court cases to that effect[39]— he has also described the allegations as political vendettas and "witch-hunts"[40] Unlike most of his political contemporaries, Saraki significantly wealthy having earned a sizeable fortune from successful business ventures before joining politics in 2000.[41]

Société Générale[edit]

From 1990 to 2000, Saraki was a director of Société Générale Bank Nigeria (SGBN) Ltd. . The Directors of Societe Generale Bank would later be accused of mismanagement of depositors funds by Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Chairman Nuhu Ribadu, who was later removed from office.[42]

In 2012, following a series of court judgements SGBN rebranded into Heritage Bank, which is one of the most capitalised banks in Nigeria with over US$1.5 billion in assets.[43] It also became clear that their were calculated machinations to bring down the bank in order to spite Saraki's image.[44]

Paradise Papers[edit]

In November 2017 an investigation conducted by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalism cited his name in the list of politicians named in "Paradise Papers" allegations.[45] According to data released as part of the Panama Papers, Landfield International Developments Limited and Renocon Property Development Limited were controlled by Bukola Saraki but at the time of these revelations, none of these offshore holdings were reported in Saraki's official asset declarations.[46]

In July 2018, the Supreme Court of Nigeria absolved Saraki of all charges brought against him by the Federal Government of Nigeria - declaring that Saraki's asset declarations throughout his public service career were "accurate and correct".[47]

Paris Club loan[edit]

The EFCC reportedly indicted aides of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki in an alleged laundering of up to N3.5 billion from the Paris Club Loan Refund. The EFCC investigation was presented to President Muhammadu Buhari in a report delivered on 10 March, five days before the Senate rejected acting EFCC chairman, Ibrahim Magu.[48][49]

Offa robbery investigation[edit]

On 5 April 2018, armed robbers attacked five commercial banks in Offa community, Kwara State, killing at least 30 persons, including police officers. Saraki was invited by the Nigeria Police for questioning—due to a plot by the Inspector General of Police to implicate him. However, he was subsequently cleared of all charges.[50]

Illegal forfeiture of properties and return to Saraki[edit]

On 16 July 2020, the federal high court in Lagos reversed an interim forfeiture order, and ordered the Federal Government to return Saraki's Ilorin, Kwara State, houses to him.[51][52]

Trial[edit]

Bukola Saraki became the first Senate President in Nigeria to be issued with arrest warrants, when Danladi Umar, Chairman of the Code Of Conduct Tribunal, issued an arrest warrant against Saraki on 18 September 2015.[53]

Code of Conduct Tribunal[edit]

The Code of Conduct Bureau cited an initial 13-count charge of corruption against Saraki in 2015. This was later increased to 22 charges. The charges related to his acquisitions while in office and making false declarations about his assets.[54]

Nigerian statutes and code of conduct provisions do not prohibit public officers from taking loans nor purchasing properties in Nigeria or abroad, while Saraki was widely acknowledged to be a very wealthy international businessman prior to public office, as attested by the Code of Conduct Bureau which certified his pre-public office asset declarations. On 18 March 2016, Kanu Godwin Agabi, Saraki's lead counsel and ex-attorney general of Nigeria, led a delegation of 79 lawyers to defend Saraki at the tribunal.[55]

Acquittal by Code of Conduct Bureau[edit]

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

Court of Appeal[edit]

Although the CCT judgment discharged Saraki of all 18 count charges on grounds that the prosecution failed to prove its allegations beyond reasonable doubt, the Federal Government of Nigeria, unexpectedly filed an appeal. The Court of Appeal then ordered the tribunal to try Saraki on three out of the 18 counts amended charges bordering on false declaration of assets brought against him by the Federal Government. The Appeal Court also held that the prosecution failed to adduce evidence to substantiate the 15 of the counts preferred against Saraki.[56]

Supreme Court of Nigeria[edit]

On Friday, 6 July 2018, the Supreme Court of the Federal Republic of Nigeria dismissed all 18 charges of corruption and false asset declaration brought against the Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, by the Federal Government, following his election as Senate President. In a judgement on 6 July, a five-member panel of the Supreme Court, led by Justice Dattijo Mohammed, held that the decision of the appeal court to agree with the tribunal in one breath and order Mr Saraki's return to the CCT in another, amounted to a "judicial summersault." Therefore, the court affirmed the June 2017 decision of the Code of Conduct Tribunal which ruled that the prosecution failed to prove the case against Dr. Saraki.[57]

Titles, styles and honours[edit]

Titles and styles[edit]

Saraki was made the Turaki of the Fulani emirate of Ilorin during his tenure as governor.[58] A Turaki is an officer at court in the Hausa-Fulani kingdoms' chieftaincy systems. A number of years later, the Emir of Ilorin elevated him to the position of Waziri (or Prime Minister) of Ilorin.[59] The title had previously been held by his father.

Honours[edit]

  • Saraki was the first serving Nigerian governor to be awarded the National Honor of Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) in 2010. Other former governors also received the award that year.[60]
  • He was appointed onto the leadership council of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, an initiative led by the United Nations Foundation.[61]
  • On 19 April 2019 Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki was appointed the "Ambassador-at-Large" of the International Human Rights Commission (IHRC).[62]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]