Hello OB Readers, we are here with another edition of PERSONALITY FOCUS (#OBFocus) and today, we have the able President of the Nigerian Senate – Abubakar Bukola Saraki.
Bukola 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.
In 2000, President Olusegun Obasanjo appointed Saraki as Special Assistant to the President on Budget. During his tenure, Saraki initiated the Fiscal Responsibility Bill. Saraki also served on the Economic Policy Coordination Committee, where he was responsible for the formulation and implementation of several key economic policies for Nigeria.
In 2003, he ran for the office of governor of Kwara State on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), and won. He was sworn into office in May 2003. He ran again for re-election in 2007 and won his second term. As governor of Kwara, he led reforms in agriculture, health, education, finance and environment policy. One of his major achievements was inviting displaced white farmers from Zimbabwe to Kwara State and offering them an opportunity to farm. This led to the establishment of Shonga Farms programme, which is now being replicated across Nigeria. His charisma among his fellow governors got him appointed chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ forum.
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 hared 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.
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 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.
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
In 2012, Saraki was appointed onto the leadership council of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, an initiative led by the United Nations Foundation supporting public-private partnerships to create a market for clean cookstoves and fuels. In 2013, Saraki established GLOBE Nigeria as an affiliate of the Global Legislators Organisation for a Balanced Environment (GLOBE International), establishing a platform for legislators to advance environmental and sustainable development laws in Nigeria. He currently serves as GLOBE Nigeria’s President. Saraki has also spoken and campaigned internationally on issues such as better governance, deforestation and economic development.
Saraki was the first serving Nigerian governor to be awarded the National Honor of Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) in 2010. Other former governors also received the award that year.
Outstanding Leadership Award was conferred on Saraki by the Governor of Kwara State, Abdulfatah Ahmed on 27 May 2017 (Saraki is one of eighteen former Governors to receive the award).
As we round up 2017, do you think Bukola Saraki will exceed all expectations in the coming 2018? Share your thoughts with us below and on Instagram. Also follow the hashtag #OBFocus
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