This is the Biography of Senator Olubukola Abubakar Saraki, popularly known as Bukola Saraki, Senate President of Nigeria. He was born on December 19, 1962 to Olusola Saraki and Florence Morenike Saraki.
His father, Olusola Saraki was once a Senator of the Federal republic of Nigeria and a one time senate leader. He is a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and an Ex-Governor. He is an indigene of Kwara State. He is married to Toyin (née Ojora) Saraki. They are blessed with four children.
He attended King’s College, Lagos, from 1973 to 1978, and Cheltenham College, Cheltenham, London from 1979 to 1981 for his High School Certificate. He then proceeded to the London Hospital Medical College of the University of London from 1982 to 1987, when he obtained his M.B.B.S (London).
He worked as a Medical Officer at Rush Green Hospital, Essex, from 1988 to 1989. He was a Director of Societe Generale Bank (Nig) Ltd from 1990 to 2000.
He is a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC); haven previously defected from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
In 2000, President Olusegun Obasanjo appointed Saraki as Special Assistant to the President on Budget. During his tenure as Special Assistant to President on Budget, 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 the Executive Governor of Kwara State on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and won. He was re-elected for a second term in office in the 2007 elections. As Governor of Kwara State, he led reforms in Agriculture, Health, Education, Finance and Environment Policy.
One of his major achievements was partnering with displaced white farmers from Zimbabwe and inviting them 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.
It is worthy to note that His charisma among his fellow Governors got him appointed as Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum.
Under Bukola Saraki’s term as a Governor, Kwara became the first state to complete the Nigeria Independent Power Project. In collaboration with the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, Dr Saraki re-energised the Ganmo Power Station at Ilorin, and connected over 375 rural communities to the National Grid, through the development and installation of 725 transformers and 7 substations. Kwara also completed 4 electrification projects that meant power became stabilised for 18–22 hours a day. It then made it possible for 90% of people living in Kwara to have access to electricity.
While in office, Bukola Saraki also left his mark on the health section in Kwara State, he introduced a range of new health programmes, including a statewide campaign in 2008 to reduce maternal and child mortality with regard to Malaria. This included the 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 implemented by Bukola Saraki 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.
Bukola Saraki’s major landmark achievement was in Agriculture. He introduced a range of reforms to agricultural policy to increase the commercial viability of farming, and to increase 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 resource of agricultural expertise in the Zimbabwean farming industry, and worked with the Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers’ Union to identify high-skilled farmers able to support the State’s farming industry to move to Kwara and develop the industry. A commercial hub was also developed to build capacity support training of the indigenous farming community.
Dr Saraki led a number of significant and statewide infrastructure developments, including improvements at the Ilorin International Airport Cargo Terminal; extensive road construction; and the development of new sporting facilities such as Kwara Football Academy. The State also has an ongoing aim to become a logistics and cargo hub in Nigeria and the region.
Dr 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 Dr Saraki’s Chairmanship, a range of new processes, including the State Peer Review Mechanism, were also developed, to ensure that closer working and collaboration could take place between members of the Forum, and best practice shared between states. The Mechanisms allowed a range of best practice case studies to be shared between states in a number of different policy fields, including in relation to power project; primary healthcare centres that were being built in villages and other rural locations; extensive roadworks that were taking place in rural areas; water schemes; solar schemes and the construction of specialist hospitals and state universities. Projects such as these had previously remained undisclosed until the Mechanism was established.
One of the most widely recognised achievements of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum was its intervention over the problematic assumption of power by then Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan, following the illness and subsequent death of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. On 23 November 2009, President Yar’Adua left Nigeria and travelled to Saudi Arabia, where he was installed in the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre in Jeddah for the treatment of what was reported to be acute pericarditis. He was not seen in public again and his absence created a dangerous power vacuum in Nigeria. The problem was that, for the Vice-President to succeed the President, the constitution demanded that the latter wrote a letter to the National Assembly making clear the appointment of the former. But as President Yar’Adua was constantly in and out of intensive care, this letter was never written and the succession therefore came into question.
The NGF, led by Dr Saraki, and working with the National Assembly, devised the Doctrine of Necessity, which was then passed as a resolution by the National Assembly. The Doctrine of Necessity allowed the Vice President to take over and become the acting President until such a time that the President returned.
Under Dr Saraki’s chairmanship a number of Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) have been signed, including but not limited to the World Bank, DFID, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, GAVI, UNICEF, UNDP.
After his two-term tenure as Governor of Kwara State, in the 2011 elections, Bukola Saraki ran for the office of Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria representing the Kwara Central Senatorial District and won, succeeding his sister, Gbemisola Saraki-Forowa.
He was appointed as the Chairman, Senate Committee on Environment and Ecology and is also a member of the Senate committee on capital Markets and Finance. He also 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.
As a member of the Senate, Senator Saraki has campaigned extensively on health, food security, education and the environment. He was appointed as the Chairman, Senate Committee on Environment and Ecology and is also a member of the Senate Committees on Capital Markets and Finance.
He also 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. His work on the oil industry, has also led him to focus on arguing to strengthen laws relating to 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.
Dr. Saraki has also 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.
In 2015, Bukola Saraki again contested for the Senatorial seat in Kwara Central Senatorial District and won. 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. His deputy, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, emerged after a tightly contested election.
Controversies later emerged within the APC due to his occupation of the prestigious Senate President title. There was a divide within the party as to who their candidate for the Senate Presidency should be. As a result, he was not accepted by the APC party leadership. This has led to a heated internal unrest in the party. There have also been continued propaganda attacks against Dr. Saraki as well as the Code of Conduct bureau accusing him of false declaration of assets.
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.
Dr Saraki has also spoken and campaigned internationally on issues such as better governance, deforestation and economic development.
Bukola Saraki has received several awards and honours. He was the first serving Nigerian Governor to be awarded the National Honor of Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) in 2010.
He also received the award of ‘Governor of the Year’ by This Day Newspapers in 2004; ‘Best Governor of the Year in Agricultural Development in 2004/05’ by City People, KSNG; Leadership Award in appreciation of commitments and outstanding leadership qualities in 2005; Harvard Business School Africa Club Award in 2005; Kenneth Kaunda Foundation Best Governor in Africa in 2006; Osun State Broadcast Corporation Man of the Year in 2006; ‘African Governor of the Year in Agricultural Development’ by African Union Media Group in Pretoria, South Africa; Nigeria Referee Association Grand Patron 2007; This Day Newspaper Best Governor on Food Security 2008; ‘The Friend of Nigerian Youth; Doctor of Science and Public Administration Award’ by University of Port Harcourt for his Administration’s focus on Agriculture; Life Fellowship of All Nigeria Confederation of Principals of Secondary Schools, (ANCOPSS) 2009; Outstanding Governor on Energy 2009 by the Nigerian Compass; Emerging Tiger of Nigeria (Leadership Award by This Day Newspaper) 2010; Institute of Chartered Accountants Award of Excellence 2010; Nigerian Bar Association Award of Excellence; Award of Excellence in Development of Education and Health care delivery in Nigeria by the College of Medicine, University of Lagos 2012.