It is often said that blood is thicker than water. But it really depends on how messed up the family is or if it flows both ways. Both allegories can best describe the familial bonds among the children of the late strongman of Kwara politics, Dr. Abubakar Olusola Saraki. For many years, even while their father was still alive, the children —former Senate President Bukola Saraki, his sisters; Gbemi and Tope, and last son, Laolu— have been at each other’s throats and this has been on for nearly two decades. At a point, the siblings split into two camps of Bukola against his younger siblings led by Gbemi, the honourable Minister of State for Transportation. The fractured relationship caused by the war of attrition among them became so deep-seated that many close friends and immediate family members failed in mending the fences. Not even the intervention of the revered Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari could convince them to end the rift —though at a point they feigned ceasefire. This sibling rivalry brought tempers to the boiling point and at a stage, the toll on their late father was immense. Politics has further driven a wedge between the Saraki siblings. It’s a known fact that Gbemi actually rose from Bukola’s rubble. She has been overshadowed by her brother and former Senate President, Bukola, in both Kwara State and national politics until last year when she had a chance to bounce back after she was cleared by the Senate for a ministerial role in President Muhammadu Buhari’s cabinet. And the last Presidential and National Assembly elections presented the opportunity to strike. And she indeed struck with her contribution to Bukola’s defeat leading to his loss of his Kwara Central Senatorial Seat.
Gbemi, it was learnt, played a very strategic role in knocking her brother off the political high tower. For Bukola and Gbemi, this further makes reconciliation missing in their lexicon. They both kept their distances. However, on Saturday 14 November, at a private prayer event in Ilorin to mark the 8th year remembrance of the demise of their father, top Islamic clergyman, Sheikh Sulaimon Farouk Onikijipa was said to have tried to reconcile the two siblings.It was gathered that before reconciliation, the respected clergyman fed the siblings with the word according to the scripture on the need to bury their animosity and embrace peace for the sake of their father. After a series of lectures and prayers for the late popular second republic politician, Onikijipa was said to have called both Bukola and Gbemi to bury their differences devoid of political reasons. And for the first time in years, the two hugged and appeared ready to sheathe their swords. But close family sources suggest that it’s not really over as the feud is beyond politics but also has to do with economic issues and the estate of their late father. Bold, fluent and intelligent, Gbemi is an Economics graduate of the University of Sussex, UK. She is said to have become a ‘man’ of herself politically and a strong, dependable force within the Saraki family and she’s not willing to relinquish that power to her elder brother. At 56, Gbemi, a mother of three, is super single and a dead ringer to any beauty queen any day any time. She was once married to businessman Otunba Segun Fowora, son of late Engr. Eric Ademola Fowora, the Fesogbade of Ikija Ijebu.