Minister of Interior, Mr. Abba Moro, Lagos State Governor Babatunde Fashola, and Special Adviser to the President on Inter-Party Affairs, Senator Ben Obi, on Thursday paid tributes to Dr. Olusola Saraki, who died in Lagos on Wednesday at 79.
In their condolences, Moro, Fashola and Obi described the Second Republic Senate Leader as “a patriot” and “flamboyant politician”, who would be missed by many Nigerians.
On their part, Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima; former Kaduna State Governor Ahmed Makarfi; Vice-Chairman, Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs, Nurudeen Abatemi-Usman; and a member of Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole’s campaign team, Kassim Afegbua, lamented that the country had been robbed of the services of “a grass roots mobiliser and philantrophist”.
The minister, in a statement by his media assistant, George Udeh, said Saraki would be remembered for his dedication to the welfare of the poor.
Moro added that the deceased woud be greatly missed for his knowledge and resourcefulness.
He said, “We are consoled that he contributed positively to the development of the country during his lifetime and he left an indelible footprints on the sands of time, and a legacy of service, honesty and hardwork that will live after him.”
In a statement, Fashola expressed his sadness over the passing of the elder statesman whom he described as “one of the most vibrant, colourful and compassionate politicians Nigeria has ever produced”.
He said, “The consistency of his political views, which he always expressed very eloquently was perhaps responsible for the leadership positions which he held in both the Senate into which he was elected in 1979 under the banner of the defunct National Party of Nigeria as well as the All Peoples Party of which he was the National Leader in 1998. And the Peoples Democratic Party where his influence saw to the election of his son, Bukola, as governor of Kwara State in 2003.
“Indeed, Nigeria has lost a political giant whose counsel is most certainly needed, particularly at this period when our budding democracy is cutting its teeth and taking its challenging steps towards consolidation.”
Obi, who managed Saraki’s presidential campaign in 1992, said the deceased had great compassion for politics, adding that for many years, he was the only political leader who could boast and deliver his state, Kwara.
While consoling his family, the presidential aide said Saraki never attempted “to win any election through rigging or stuffing of ballot boxes”.
Makarfi said, “Saraki no doubt paid his dues and deserves all the encomiums being poured on him and even more for the roles he played not only in deepening democracy in this country, but also in stabilising the country.
“His death no doubt creates a vacuum difficult to fill, especially at a time when voices of moderation and positive influence such as his are in high demand.”
Shettima, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Communications, Mallam Isa Gusau, said Nigeria had lost one of its best politicians by Saraki’s death.
“Nigeria and the North in particular, have lost one of its best political leaders who stood for the ordinary man’s welfare, ethno-religious tolerance, and national unity,” the News Agency of Nigeria quoted him as saying.
Abatemi-Usman, in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Michael Jegede, praised Saraki for his contribution to national development.
Afegbua said, “Nigeria has once again lost a rare political gem.
“He was a man that cultivated his politics in a very peculiar manner and espoused the practice of generosity and good neighbourliness to sustain his array of political followers. Easily called Oloye by his numerous followers back in his native Ilorin, Saraki was a politician that created his own panache throughout his entire political sojourn.”