Every generation is gifted with its own legends. Because the legend lives in the tangible present and does great things in simple, ordinary ways not many are blessed with the wisdom to recognise his distinctiveness as is proper until we find ourselves in a state of loss. Only very few legends exist among Nigerian politicians and even so, the degree of legendary differs. Senator Gbemisola Rukkayat Saraki (aka GRS, man in a woman, queen of the 6th senate, amazon of Kwara politics), thy face we seek, thy voice we crave and your silence we abhor. Yes, we yearn for a rendition of the impacts of your human-faced politics.
The style of GRS politics gave her influence and impacts that stand her out as a significant political figure in Kwara’s recent political history. Just in three months on the floor of the House of Representatives in 1999, it was obvious that Aunty Gbemi, came to speak for not just Kwara central Senatorial district but the lots of the poor and lowly and vulnerable in Nigeria. Absolutely, the entire time, she was there for her constituency. If ever you wanted an example of somebody who absolutely understood that the first duty of a member of parliament is to represent their constituency, Gbemisola exemplified that completely.
She dignified the place of women in politics with a clear sighted, constructive philosophical base that accentuates the significance of courage, thoughtfulness, education, empathy and positive attitudes as the necessary model that makes government meaningful. Verve and exultancy in the senate arguably, established a unique position for Nigerian women on the political map.
From the hooks of religious limitation, gender prejudice and dynastic succession she came battered, stumbling, hopeless but yet unquelled. This was possible with her because she is true to her political philosophy. Yes, during those times she became a man in a woman because the aspiration wasn’t hers, but a response to the yearnings of the people. It can be recalled that the Waziri Elders Forum, a female group who threatened to go nude round Ilorin, students groups and a host of others brought all possible pressures to get GRS to give the guber a shot, but eventually lost in an election that was considered the most dramatic and horribly controversial in Kwara history.
While serving in the lower house, Senator Gbemisola performed excellently with numerous direct impacts achievements. She authored and co-authored several bills and was a reckonable member of important house committees which included aviation, foreign travel habitat, legislative budget and research office, navy, privatization and transport.
At the senate, she was chairman, senate committee on maritime and related matters. During this period, senator GRS was privy to many important bills which included but not limited to mortgage regulatory bills, and in reflection of her concern for the high and rising trend of unemployment in the country, she equally initiated a bill for an act requiring regular publication of existing vacancies in MDAs for the purpose of transparency and equity in recruitment exercises, another for the establishment of police tax fund, to ensure police efficiency and adequate funding, and the skills acquisition and development fund. GRS example has shown that women can truly influence development at all levels.
The economics graduate of University of Sussex and former banker and insurance broker holds ardent belief in human capital development through functional and quality education, it is widely believed that this outlook of life dictates her continual scholarship support to all categories of indigent students across the country. Through the Have Foundation which she established, she has brought succor to many homes in terms of employment, health and other socio-economic empowerments of the youth thereby helping to extend the frontiers of humanity.
History beckons and remembers Senator Gbemisola with kindness because like her father, the late Oloye of blessed memory, her light lights the path of others. Her closeness to the people derives from her caring, and her understanding of the core expectations of peoples demand for good governance. Here is a woman whose values recognises that development must, necessarily, begin with the core elements that make up a political system and that a good government is such as provides the people with structures and infrastructure for the good, happy living. This is why GRS is dear to the people and her mention brings the picture of a high-potential personality to the fore.
Senator Gbemisola Saraki unlike any other disciples of the late Oloye DrAbubakar Olusola Saraki took great lessons in the values of hard work, philanthropy and humility as the most veritable tools of endearment and influence not only that, she is a woman who knows that patience is a virtue, thus possessing an aura that both affects and influences you.
Wada wrote from Abuja