The Generalissimo of Kwara politics, Dr Olusola Saraki, fondly called Oloye, had long foreseen his death and had prepared well ahead for it, given the scenarios that played out some weeks before he passed on.
Nigerian Tribune can reveal authoritatively that Saraki deliberately chose the period of the last Eid-el-fitr celebration, couple of weeks ago, to hint his family members, political disciples, godsons and friends about his impending journey to the great beyond, as he called them to his side batch by batch to pray for each one.
The strong pillar of Kwara politics was said to have even bequeathed his precious belongings such as money, landed properties, his holy books, apparels and souvenirs to very close family members and aides, as part of hints on his impending departure.
The most touching gesture detailing the large heart demonstrated by Saraki to his followers centered on how he dashed out one of his wide expanses of land in Ilorin two weeks ago to market women who were initially driven out of the Ago market where they had been doing business for decades.
Saraki, on hearing of the predicament of the market men and women, reportedly ordered that one of his parcel of land at Ilorin, be shared out to them fairly so that they could continue with their businesses.
Nigerian Tribune can also reveal that Saraki had invited his close aides to Lagos during his last days and blessed them profusely for the loyalty they had all shown to him and his cause, just as he entreated them to continue to operate in unison for the sake of the progress of Kwara State.
Saraki entreated his aides to continue politics of serving the downtrodden from where he stopped, as he went further in telling them that he was already done with the assignment given to him by God, urging them never to disappoint him after he might have gone.
One of the close aides of Saraki, Alhaji Abdullahi Ayodeji, who was with him few weeks ago, confirmed that the grandmaster of Kwara politics, invited heads of parastatals, local heads, commissioners, local government officials and close family members to his residence in Lagos, one after the other to prepare them for his final exit.
Saraki, he said, broke the news that he had appealed at different times to Senator Gbemi Saraki who, he felt, was most aggrieved about some certain issues, to bury the hatchet with her brothers and sisters, most especially the serving Senator, adding that the late Waziri of Ilorin expressed optimism at the end that his two most prominent children would bury the hatchet soon.
Alhaji Ayodeji said, “I was there when Baba told us to beg Gbemi. He appealed to everybody to look out for Gbemi and apologise to her on his behalf for the wrongs the Saraki family might have done to her.
He said although Saraki looked healthy as of the time he met with batches of his supporters and officials of government in Kwara State in Lagos, there was no mistaking the hint that the grandmaster of politics was preparing for his exit.
About two weeks to his eventual death on Wednesday morning, Dr Olusola Saraki could neither eat nor drink, a domestic staff in his Ikoyi home revealed to the Nigerian Tribune yesterday.
He was reportedly being fed through drips.
But for cancer that he reportedly battled for about five years, he would have turned 80 on May 17, 2013.
Nigerian Tribune crew which was the first caller at about 7.30 a.m. in his Ikoyi home where he eventually passed on, was also informed that the scion of the family and former Governor of Kwara State, Senator Bukola Saraki had engaged four expatriate medical doctors to attend to him at home and they were there until he breathed his last.
Bukola’s sister and former senator, Gbemisola Saraki-Fowora also reportedly brought an additional white woman doctor to join the team of doctors on the ground, all in a bid to stop cancer from further ravaging his body.
One of Saraki’s sons, Olu, told the Nigerian Tribune that the deceased had been coming in and out of the ailments caused by the said cancer for about six years, disclosing that he eventually gave up the ghost at about 6.30 a.m on Wednesday.
Olu said the Saraki patriarch died in the presence of his (Olu) older sister and mother
Saraki’s death came just four days after that of former governor of Oyo State, Alhaji Lamidi Adesina, who died on Sunday at St Nicolas Hospital.
The vicinity of the late Saraki’s home on Cameron Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, wore a mournful look, as prominent Nigerians trooped in to sympathise with the family.
Bukola arrived at the Ikoyi residence at 9.37 a.m and was said to have travelled down from Abuja. Former Ekiti State governor, Chief Niyi Adebayo, came in around 9.50 a.m.
Confirming the death of Dr Saraki, in a statement on Wednesday, the Kwara State governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed, said Saraki died in his Lagos State home on Wednesday morning.
The remains of Senator Saraki departed Lagos for Ilorin, Kwara State capital, for burial, around 3.20 p.m on Wednesday.
Thousands of people, including family, friends, relations and dignitaries of late Saraki thronged the Yidi prayer ground, Ilorin, where the late former Senate Leader was buried.
Saraki’s corpse arrived Ilorin International airport in an Overland aircraft by 4.30 p.m.
At the eid prayer ground, the Chief Imam, Mohammad Bashir, led the prayers at about 5.05 p.m.
People thronged into the venue in their multitude and lined streets leading to the eid arena, as many supporters struggled to catch a glimpse of the corpse.
It took several moments before the corpse was brought out of the ambulance for prayers.
After the prayer, the corpse was taken to the Ilofa home of the late elder statesman, at about 6.05 p.m and lowered into the grave at about 6.20 p.m.