By Steve Oni, Ilorin
Eminent Nigerians on Wednesday in Ilorin, the Kwara state capital, poured encomiums on the late Second Republic Senate Leader. Dr Abubakar Olusola Saraki for his uncommon love for the common man and his philanthropic gestures
The late Saraki’s love for the downtrodden, they noted made him to sponsor the education of so many indigent Kwarans during his life time.
The eminent personalities that included the Kwara state governor, Alh Abdulfatah Ahmed, the Emir of Ilorin, Alh Ibrahim Sulu- Gambari and an elder statesman, Chief Tunji Arosanyin spoke during the official launch of the Sola Saraki Educational Foundation.
Governor Ahmed who said the day was a great and memorable day, said Saraki was a great philanthropist, adding that “Baba’s immense contributions to Kwara and indeed Nigeria remains indelible.
“He shared almost all he had for the people. In fact he lived for the people and his contributions to education in the state cannot be forgotten”, he said.
Ahmed noted that the Saraki education foundation would not only promote scholarship and functional education, but also complement government’s efforts in educational development.
“The scheme is not only a good way of promoting education, but a good way of immortalising him (Saraki),” Ahmed added.
The Emir of Ilorin, Alh Ibrahim Sulu- Gambari said that Saraki served not only the people of Ilorin, but Kwara at large meritoriously.
The Speaker, Kwara state house of assembly, Dr Ali Ahmad said Saraki was generous to a fault.
“Baba Saraki helped all manner of people, he didn’t care where you come from. He made himself accessible to all and sundry,” Ahmad stated.
A life-long associate of the late politician, Chief Tunji Arosanyin who is chairman of the SSEF called for the renaming of the state university after Saraki, arguing that legislative processes had been concluded for the name-change since 2013 and should be implemented without delay.
About N50 million was realised at the event with the state government doling out N15 million. Other donors include the state’s House of Assembly (N10m),Deputy Senate Minortiy Leader, Senator Biodun Olujimi (N10m), Alhaji Moshood Mustapha (N2m) and wife of the deceased politician, Mrs. Morenike Saraki, (N1m).
Scion of the deceased, Senate President Dr. Bukola Saraki was represented at the event by a Chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Alhaji Kawu Baraje.
Convener of the SSEF, Alhaji Ladi Hassan said the foundation would focus on national and international endowment for medicine and medical education; an area the late politician had keen interest in his life time. The foundations hope to sponsors indigent students in the medical discipline and also endow professorial chairs in Nigerian and foreign universities to immortalise the late Saraki.
Other areas of focus for the foundation is the offer of free treatment for children in need of medical and surgical correction of congenital health diseases in foreign hospitals while there is a future plan to build a specialist hospital that would cater for such needs locally.