Saraki’s words on marble

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The late Second Republic Senate Leader, Dr. Olusola Saraki, rarely granted interviews when he was alive. He would, however, be remembered by some of these quotes in the rare interviews he gave

Saraki on politics

‘Now, the greed for money has taken over the whole place and I won’t blame our members of the National Assembly alone for that. In those days when I was in the Senate, we never got ourselves involved in anything except the idea to serve the public. But today, it is different. It is now what you can get and what you can grab as everything is now about money which was not so during our own time.

“See what is happening in the National Assembly. A member of the Peoples Democratic Party gets up to insult or abuse the President. In those days, you would never see a member of Unity Party of Nigeria getting up on the floor to abuse Chief Obafemi Awolowo or a National Party of Nigeria member abusing Alhaji Shehu Shagari. It never happened. Today, there is no discipline. Everybody does as he likes and there is nobody to check them.”

Why he left the PDP

“They PDP locked the door of the party. I can’t enter unless you want me to break the door, which I am not ready to do. The law of the PDP is difficult to break. I told President Goodluck Jonathan about this he said he would look into it. But I told him I would leave the PDP. The party’s constitution says that you conduct primaries through delegates. But having locked the door against my people, I have to leave. The best thing in the circumstances is to leave. As I have left, I know that every other person who loves me must follow me.”

How he made his money

“I had a thriving medical practice then and I still have even up till today. My income was about £500,000 per annum at that time. I had a very successful medical practice. I was looking after companies and private clients. I did not have any hospital where I admitted patients but 99 per cent of my jobs then were on retainership. I was retained by companies to look after their employees and family members. If I was making as much as £500,000 per annum as at 1962 then, definitely, it was quite a lot of money.

My medical practice gave me all my money and I come from a very rich family. You can go to Agbaji and ask and they will tell you that Saraki is ‘a ya won lowo toke toke’ (he who lends people money with the carrier bag). When I left government, I contested election and lost. When I went to my father, he gave me £10,000 to set up my private practice after I refused to hearken to the voice of some people who were persuading me to go back to government. My father was a very rich trader. I went to him and told him I needed money to set up about five clinics in Lagos.”

On his Christian wife

“I manage my home excellently and we do not have any religious problem because we never discussed it. Even though I come from a most devout Muslim background, my wife’s Christian upbringing has not posed any problem to our marriage.

Even today, the head of their family is a Moslem. That has helped me a lot such that there is no religious acrimony in my home. She is well accepted and we never discussed religion in my house. It does not worry us in the house at all. Whenever she was fasting, she prayed for me and if I was fasting, she prepared food for me and left me to do my fasting. We never discussed religion at all.

My wife is the only one I have. Anyone claiming otherwise is not saying the truth because my wife is the only one I have and I have four children, two boys, two girls. The last one is Laolu and the third Bola and I have Gbemi and Bukola.”

The fall of Societe General Bank

“My bank, SGBN was targeted, but they couldn’t find anything against us. They said we should increase our capital base to N25bn or merge with another bank. We were running to do that and suddenly, we were told that we were too late and they dropped us. But because it was a wrong thing, we went to court and we won the case and our licence was restored. Now we are trying to re-organise the bank. I feel sorry for Nuhu Ribadu (former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission) because he is a young man who has no understanding of what is happening in the world. Otherwise, how could he have listened to former President Olusegun Obasanjo and allow him to use him (Ribadu) to do all that he did? Yes, he wanted to fight corruption, but the way he went about it was too personal.”

On Obasanjo’s third term agenda

“I was one of the leaders at the national constitutional conference put together by Gen. Sani Abacha. The matter of power rotation came up and after long hours of deliberations, we set up a sub-committee made up of eminent Nigerians including Ekwueme, Ojukwu and others to look at the matter of presidency. Members wanted to vote but I cautioned them, arguing that issues are being resolve in the conference based on consensus, why voting to further divide the country? A committee of 50 members was set up to look at the issue again and I was the chairman. We agreed that eight years North, eight years South. We went back to the floor of the conference the following day and I informed them of our decision. So, I was surprised that Obasanjo after spending eight years wanted to continue, Peter Odili and others were also coming out for presidency against what we decided, and I said I won’t allow it. We formed a national union to go round the whole country and sensitise the people. Even we went to Obasanjo at Aso Rock and we told him he cannot run again. He blessed us and encouraged us to go round but to eschew violence, intimidation and harassment. But I don’t know Obasanjo took offence. I am surprised the way he behaved as president. He used to treat the North very well. I have nothing against him. It is only that he has misbehaved a lot.”

– Culled from The SUN and PM News

The Herald NG is a leading newspaper in Nigeria at the forefront of the digital revolution.

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