Abuja - President Goodluck Jonathan has urged Nigerians to emulate the late Dr Olusola Saraki’s ``patriotic commitment to national unity, politics without bitterness as well as his magnificent spirit of philanthropy’’.
In a statement in Abuja on Wednesday on Saraki's death, Jonathan described him as a ``consummate politician, an astute grass roots mobiliser, and a political colossus with awe-inspiring powers of political organisation’’.
The statement signed by Dr Reuben Abati, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, further said Saraki, who died in Lagos on Wednesday aged 79, ``will be long remembered and eulogised as this public-spirited politician will always occupy a place of honour in the hearts of his people, supporters, friends and associates across the nation’’.
He urged his family and the people of Kwara to be ``consoled by the knowledge that their departed father, leader and mentor lived a very successful and fulfilled life, rising to national prominence by dint of hard work, uncommon generosity, political sagacity, dedication and wholesome commitment to the service of his people and the entire nation’’.
Jonathan said he believed that the ordinary people of Kwara in particular ``will always remember the `Oloye' with great affection because of the constant support they received from him’’.
The president noted that Saraki’s brand of people-oriented politics and his success in building on his strong support base, contributed positively to Nigeria’s political development.
He said Saraki’s powerful voice in the nation’s dominant political parties, as the Senate Majority Leader in the Second Republic, and as the ultimate reference point in the politics of Kwara for decades, had assured him of a place amongst Nigeria’s heroes of democracy.
Jonathan extended ``sincere commiseration’’ to the elder statesman’s family and the people of h Kwara to whose service and uplift he selflessly devoted his long and very successful career in politics.
In his tribute, Senate President David Mark said Saraki was a ``political giant and a shining star'' of Nigerian politics.
He said Saraki was a political tactician and political engineer who navigated the political environment like a colossus.
He noted that Saraki's political sagacity had gone a long way to ``midwife the modern day Nigerian politics''.
"Saraki was a political leader who stood to be counted when it mattered. He stood on the side of the people and worked assiduously for the liberation of the down trodden.
``He was a leader who lived and worked for others. We shall miss his fatherly counsel.
``We shall miss his candour, humility, and his robust political debate. He was one our brightest and focused political leader.
``Saraki has left a vacuum that will be difficult to fill. The nation has lost one of her best and fertile minds,‘’ Mark said.
Mark noted that Saraki distinguished himself as a parliamentarian, and ``unarguably laid the solid foundation for today's National Assembly''.
Mark added that the only way to immortalise him was to uphold the virtues of hard work, honesty and dedication to the ideals of nationhood which he stood for.
He urged Nigerians, especially, the political class to take solace in the fact that Saraki lived an eventful and truly accomplished a life worthy of emulation.
The Senate Leader, Mr Victor Ndoma-Egba, described the death of the Second Republic Senate Leader as the end of an era in Nigerian politics.
Ndoma-Egba recalled that Saraki tenaciously believed that democracy was the way to Nigeria's greatness and its rightful place in the comity of developed economies.
He noted that his late predecessor was a consummate party man who was influential in formulating the legislative agenda of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) in the Second Republic.
``A chapter in the history of Nigerian politics closed with the death, Wednesday, of the death of Senator Olusola Abubakar Saraki.
``Nigeria has lost a wealth of political experience with the passage of a great tactician and politician.
``He was a consummate party man who never deviated from the tenets of his party and was able to galvanise his colleagues to achieving the goals of the NPN in the Second Republic Senate.''
Also reacting to Saraki’s death, The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Information, Media and Public Affairs, Sen. Enyinnaya Abaribe (PDP-Abia) described Saraki as a true man of the people.
``He was a consummate politician, senator and a true man of the people. He epitomised what a grassroots political leader should be. Nigeria will miss him,’’ he added.
Gov. Isa Yuguda of Bauchi State described the death as an irreparable loss to political development in Nigeria.
Yuguda said the death had also created a vacuum that would be difficult to fill, adding that Saraki had gone with his wealth of political and leadership experience.
``It is a great loss and irreparable to political development in the country,” Yuguda said.
Yuguda said Saraki was also instrumental to the establishment of the present democratic dispensation through his strong stance alongside other eminent politicians in the country who fought against military rule.
Similarly, the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), on Wednesday expressed shocked over the demise of its National Chairman.
``The death of our National Leader is shocking to the ACPN, although death is inevitable.
``He died at the most unexpected time and at the time his vast experience is needed in the political landscape of Nigeria,'' the party said in a statement.
The party described him as ``a patriot to the core, a statesman, a detribalised Nigeria, and the only apostle of politics of consensus.''
``The entire family of the ACPN commiserates with the immediate and political family left behind by the late statesman.
``We pray to Allah to grant him eternal rest and give the family fortitude to bear the great lost. May his soul rest in peace. ``
A former Minister of External Affairs, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, said he was saddened by Saraki's death.
``I was deeply saddened by the news of the passing away of the charistmatic and highly respected political leader.
``He single handedly built a grass root political machine that had endured for decades
``The late ‘Oloye’ will be remembered for his humility, generosity and love, especially for the people of his primary constituency,'' Gambari said.