Increasingly, the Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari, is becoming a tool in the hands of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, SaharaReporters sources in Kwara State say.
The Senate President, who is facing prosecution for alleged false declaration of assets and possible loss of his exalted position, is using a variety of weapons to fight his political battles, and the most prominent of his battle axes are the Emir and State Governor Abdulfattah Ahmed.
A recent victim of the onslaught is Alhaji Ibrahim Oniye, Makaman Ilorin, who was suspended by Governor Ahmed as Chairman of Kwara State Parent-Teachers Association.
The suspension of Oniye, who was also barred by the Emir from stepping into his palace, did not come as a shock to many people in the state.
The man, although blind, is a reputed straight talker, who is not afraid to speak the truth to those in authority. His fearless nature was said to be one of the attributes that endeared him to the late Emir Aliyu Abdulkadir, the 10th Emir of Ilorin, who appointed him the first Makaman of the Ilorin Emirate in 1993.
Our sources say what got Oniye into trouble was his decision to tell Alhaji Sulu-Gambari that more people in Kwara are angry with Saraki and are actually cursing him. Oniye was said to have told the Emir that those cursing Saraki are mainly the poor, who see the Senate President as one who has taken what belongs to them and continues to do so through Governor Ahmed, who is seen as a stooge.
Alhaji Oniye was said to have made this observation known to the Emir at a meeting called by the latter to find out why huge financial outlays on prayers by Saraki failed to stop the Supreme Court from halting the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) from going ahead with the Senate President’s prosecution.
In attendance at the meeting were prominent Muslim clerics and Ilorin title holders, who preferred to deodorize the real situation until Oniye spoke and told the meeting about the anger of Kwarans with Saraki.
The treatment of Oniye by the palace and the governor has sparked disquiet in the state and invited scrutiny of the Emir.
SaharaReporters sources said that as word leaked that Alhaji Oniye had been suspended and that his PTA chairmanship would be taken away, the political establishment in Ilorin reversed the decision. By the time SaharaReporters reached Alhaji Oniye, it was apparent he had ready-made answers. Carefully picking his words, he denied he had not been suspended and blamed the news on those that might be jealous of his many titles and prestigious position within the Ilorin Emirate.
He also said he was never removed as the PTA chairman at the state level. He stressed that as he had never been “queried or indicted” for any malfeasance, he couldn’t have been removed.
Asked if he had spoken up for teachers whose salaries had remained unpaid in the state, he waxed philosophical saying he is the “father of all” and then asked rhetorically if there are no unpaid teachers in Osun, Bauchi, Kano and other places.
When SaharaReporters pressed Alhaji Oniye regarding the Saraki trial in Abuja, he gave interesting answers. First, he said it was his duty not to allow the image of Ilorin to be dragged in the mud by the trial since Saraki was Ilorin’s son, and later, that he would advise people not to jubilate over Saraki’s predicament unless he is pronounced guilty by the tribunal. When our reporter read this portion of his statement to him he asked that it be taken out completely saying he had no comment on Saraki because he doesn’t want to be dragged into politics.