Biography of Bukola Saraki

Olubukola Abubakar Saraki is a former President of Nigeria’s Senate and Governor of Kwara State under the platform of the People’s Democratic Party from 2003 to 2011. He lost the senatorial seat in the 2019 election. He was first elected to the Senate in April 2011, also under the platform of the PDP, representing the Kwara Central Senatorial District , and then re-elected in the March 2015 general elections under the platform of the All Progressive Congress . He decamped from All Progressive Congress back to his former party Peoples Democratic Party, on 31 July 2018. Saraki declared his intention to vie for the Office of President of Nigeria under the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). but lost to Atiku Abubakar, he was subsequently announced as the DG of Atiku’s Presidential Campaign Council.

Bukola Saraki was born on December 19, 1962, to Abubakar Olusola Saraki and Florence Morenike Saraki. His father Olusola, was a member of the National Party of Nigeria (NPA) and a one-time Senate President (1979–1983) of Nigeria. Born on May 17, 1933, in Ilorin, Olusola died November 14, 2012, in Ikoyi, Lagos.

Bukola Saraki has a sister called Gbemisola Ruqayyah Saraki.

Educational background

Bukola Saraki attended King’s College, Lagos, from 1973 to 1978 where he obtained his West African School Certificate (WAEC). He proceeded to Cheltenham College, London, from 1979 to 1981.

He studied at the London Hospital Medical College of the University of London, from 1982 to 1997 when he obtained his M.B.B.S (London). He was a director of SociétéGénérale Bank (Nig) Ltd from 1990 to 2000.

Professional career

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.

Political career

Bukola Saraki’s political career started off in the year 2000 when he was appointed by the former President Olusegun Obasanjo as his special assistant on budget issues. He initiated the Fiscal Responsibility Bill during his tenure and also served on the Economy Policy Coordination Committee.

Governor of Kwara state

In 2003, He contested and won the Kwara State gubernatorial elections which were conducted on April 19. He was sworn in as Governor of Kwara State on May 29, 2003.

He was re elected for a second term on April 14, 2007. He was sworn in for a second time as governor of Kwara State on May 29, 2007. During his eight years in office, he had mostly positive reviews about his job.

Power generation and electricity

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. 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%.

Primary health care

While in office, Saraki introduced new health programmes, including a statewide campaign in 2008 to reduce maternal and child mortality from malaria. This included distribution of insecticide-treated nets and free malaria drugs to pregnant mothers and to children under the age of five. A statewide programme of hospital development was also implemented, leading to the redevelopment of hospitals in Afon , Patigi and Lafiagi . Other measures included improved training and re-training for medical staff; refurbishment of hospitals and staff living quarters; and employment of qualified medical doctors and other health workers. Many of the primary care programmes were sponsored by international agencies such as WHO and UNICEF.

Agriculture and farming

Saraki introduced agricultural policy reforms to increase the commercial viability of farming, and also the volume of exports to international markets. The New Nigerian Farmers Initiative was designed to improve the technical capability of farmers and to ensure farmers had a significant financial stake in new investment in agriculture.

The scheme utilised the under-used agricultural expertise in the Zimbabwean farming industry, and worked with Zimbabwe ‘s Commercial Farmers’ Union to identify highly skilled farmers able to support Nigeria ’s farming industry and to move to Kwara and develop the farming industry. A commercial hub was also developed to build capacity support training for the indigenous farming community.

Infrastructure development

Saraki led significant and statewide infrastructure development, including improvements at the Ilorin International Airport Cargo Terminal, extensive road construction, and development of new sporting facilities such as Kwara Football Academy .

Chairman of the Nigerian governors forum

Saraki became chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum in 2007. Under Saraki’s Chairmanship, a reformed Forum was established, with a fully resourced secretariat, with a technical and administrative division that was entirely focused on delivery. Under Saraki’s chairmanship, new processes such as the State Peer Review Mechanism were developed to ensure closer working and collaboration, and that best practices could be shared between states.

The mechanism allowed case studies to be shared between states in a number of policy fields. including power projects, primary healthcare centres for villages and other rural locations, roadworks, water, solar schemes and the construction of specialist hospitals and state universities. Projects such as these had previously remained undisclosed.

Senetorial career

After two term tenure as governor of Kwara State , Bukola Saraki ran for the office of 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. He 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.

Senator Saraki has campaigned extensively on health , food security, education and the environment. He has argued for strengthened laws on the clean up of oil spills. His National Oil Spill and Detection and Response Agency Amendment Bill seeks to ensure oil companies pay appropriate levels of compensation to communities affected by oil spills.

Saraki intervened in the lead poisoning crisis in Zamfara State in 2010, and has supported to the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, which ensures safe and healthy methods of cooking for millions of Nigerians while conserving the environment through reduced deforestation.

He has been a lead campaigner in the areas of desertification and climate change in the Senate and across Nigeria. Saraki sponsored a motion on the floor of the Senate to end Nigeria’s fuel subsidy regime. Other motions and private member bills he has sponsored include the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency Amendment Bill 2012, which was aimed at putting a halt to oil spills in the Niger Delta, the Gas Flaring Prohibition Bill 2012 and the Climate Change Commission Bill 2013.

Saraki expressed regret after his supporters died in a human stampede at his residence. This was not the first time that people had been killed during his family’s habit of distributing money and food to their supporters.

Senate presidency

After his re-election in the 2015 general elections, Saraki 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. His deputy, Senator Ike Ekweremadu , emerged after a tightly contested election.

Senator 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.

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). He blamed his defection on intolerance of the influential persons of his former party.

Over the past 3 years, the Nigerian Senate under his leadership has surpassed all Senates 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. Senator Bukola Saraki contested the Peoples Democratic Party’s presidential primaries in a bid to become Nigeria’s president but lost to former Vice President of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar.

In the February, 2019 elections, Saraki lost his 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.

Saraki gave the valedictoy speech at the final plenary of the 8th senate on June 6, 2019.

Code of conduct tribunal

The Code of Conduct Bureau cited a 13-count charge of corruption against Saraki. In charge number ABT/01/15, dated 11 September 2015 and filed before the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Saraki is accused of offences ranging from anticipatory declaration of assets to making false declaration of assets in forms Saraki had filed with the Code of Conduct Bureau while he was governor of Kwara state. He was also accused of failing to declare some assets he acquired while in office as governor, acquiring assets beyond his legitimate earnings, and accused of operating foreign accounts while being a public officer.

An official of the Code of Conduct Bureau, Peter Danladi, stated in a court affidavit that the investigation of the various petitions of corruption, theft, money laundering, among others, against Saraki in 2010, was conducted jointly by the officials of the EFCC, CCB and the DSS. “The EFCC conducted its investigation on the various petitions and made findings which showed that the defendant/applicant abused his office, while he was the governor of Kwara State and was involved in various acts of corruption as the governor of the state.

The defendant/applicant borrowed huge sums of money running into billions from commercial banks, particularly Guaranty Trust Bank, and used the proceeds of the loan to acquire several landed properties in Lagos, Abuja and London, while he was the governor of Kwara State.

Arrest warrant and court charges

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.

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.

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

However, in a swift reaction, Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to Saraki, Yusuph Olaniyonu, in a statement released, denied the claims.

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

The tribunal held that the evidence proffered against Saraki by the federal government was bereft of probate value and manifestly unreliable to hold the charges against the defendant. The chairman of the tribunal Danladi Umar said the prosecution at the close of the case failed to establish a prima facie case against the defendant.

Umar said the four witnesses called by the prosecution to testify in the matter gave contradictory evidence that were manifestly unreliable to convict the defendant or order him to enter his defense.

Umar further said that the report of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) put at the disposal of the tribunal was more of intelligence gathering rather than conventional investigation.

Umar said that the defendant was never invited or be made to make statement so that truth can be unearthed if there are allegations against him.

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.

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.

Awards and honour

• He was the first serving Nigerian governor to be awarded the national honour, a Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) in 2010.

• His charisma among his fellow governors got him appointed the chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF).

• On May 27, Saraki received the Outstanding Leadership Award from the Governor of Kwara State, Abdulfatah Ahmed.

Personal life

Bukola Saraki is married to Toyin Saraki, who is believed to be the founder and president of Wellbeing Foundation Africa and a healthcare philanthropist. The couple has four children – Oluwaseni Saraki, Halimat Oluwatosin Sakari, and twins – Teniola Saraki and Teniayo Sakari.

Tosin is Bukola’s first child. She recently got married to her longtime beau, Tunde Olukoya.

Oluwaseni, on the other hand, is a budding rapper and law graduate (he finished from the Nigerian Law School, Lagos Campus), he is his second child. He is based in the UK, where he is giving his music career a chase.

Seni is also the chairman and founder of Abubakar Bukola Saraki football club, ABS FC and is said to have recently graduated from the London School of Economics.

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