Saraki Launches Plan To Reclaim Kwara, Inaugurates Pilgrimages Committee

By Balkis Tijani

The Senate President, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki, believed to have consulted widely with varying stakeholders since the unsavory outcome of the 2019 elections in his home state, Kwara, may have begun to implement some of the strategies for reclaiming the state.

This was the view of a lecturer and public commentator, Mr. Wale Hammed, while reacting to yesterday’s inauguration of a 10- man committee on Muslim and Christian pilgrimage which would be headed by a former Grand Kadi of Kwara state, Justice Idris Haroon.

Speaking during the inauguration of the committee, which also has the secretary of the state’s chapter of the Christians Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev. Cornelius Fawenu as member, Saraki said he decided to take over the responsibility of sponsoring Muslim and Christian faithfuls on pilgrimages because the government could no longer do it as a result of the economic challenges.

While given reasons for his decision, Saraki said “any good leader must at all times listen to the yearnings of his people. We have our Muslim and Christian brothers desirous of observing the pilgrimages but could not afford the cost. We will help such people with a forum through which they can realise their dreams. We may not be able to do like the government which used to sponsor about 400 when I was governor of Kwara state, we will start with 100. The coming Umrah( lesser Hajj) shall be the starting point.”

Among other terms of reference, the committee is to coordinate the sponsorship of pilgrimages by the Senate President; select and screen people from the two major faiths to be sponsored for Hajj, Umrah and Jerusalem.

However, Hameed, a social commentator, has criticized the move; alleging that the pilgrimage sponsorship by Saraki is one of the many strategies already outlined to reclaim the state from APC.

“When last did Saraki use his personal fund to send anybody on pilgrimage? Is it now that he realises people can’t afford to go on pilgrimage? Saraki and his strategists are fully aware that Kwara is a very religious state, they have simply decided to capitalise on this, to again, ingratiate Saraki into the minds of the people”, Hameed said.

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