EARLY YEARS AND EDUCATION
Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki was born in 1962 to the family of former Senate Leader Olusola Saraki and Florence Saraki. He is a medical doctor and Nigerian politician and is presently the Chairman and Founder of the Abubakar Bukola Saraki Foundation.
Dr. Saraki attended King’s College, Lagos from 1973 to 1978 and then Cheltenham College in the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1981, he obtained his M.B.B.S(London) from the London Hospital Medical College of the University of London from 1982 to 1987. He worked in the United Kingdom in a number or hospitals in London, and surrounding counties for two years before returning to Nigeria to commence a career in that spans over two decades.
In the 80’s, Dr. Saraki built a successful property development company that serviced a number of reputable international companies, especially in the oil and gas sector, due to the quality of their designs, architecture and engineering.
His companies are also leaders in the commodity trading and traded in traded in sugar, rice, fertilizer and much more. Dr. Saraki also owns a manufacturing company in the food and sector.
Prior to his entry into public service, Dr. Saraki was appointed to the board of Society Generale Bank of Nigeria. Shortly thereafter he was appointed as Executive Director. Under his leadership, the bank was the first in all of West Africa to introduce the use of Automated Teller Machine (ATM).
SPECIAL ADVISER TO THE PRESIDENT ON BUDGET (2000 – 2003)
Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki was first appointed by President Olusegun Obasanjo, to serve as a Special Assistant to the President on Budget in 2000. He was responsible for preparing the 2000/2001 National Budget and equally initiated the Fiscal Responsibility Bill while also serving on the Economic Policy Coordination Committee, where he was responsible for the formulation and implementation of key economic policies.
KWARA LEGACY (2003 – 2011)
Having diligently completed his service as Special Assistant to the President on Budget, Dr. Saraki contested and won the Kwara State gubernatorial election in 2003 as a member of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). As Governor, he garnered national and international acclaim for his innovative approaches to agriculture, health, education, fiscal policy and environmental reforms. His spirit of teamwork endeared him to his colleagues, and he was appointed as Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum.
He championed a peer review mechanism among the Governors of Nigerian states and also used the platform to create a harmonious working relationship between the executive and the legislative arm of government at the national level. In 2011, he signified his interest in becoming a Senator and contested successfully in this regard.
- First Governor to take a business-focused agriinnovation approach to repositioning Kwara’s agricultural sector. Dr Saraki moved Kwara’s agriculture beyond a typical state welfare program to commercial agriculture with secured million-dollar investments providing 4,000 jobs and local capacity development.
- Established Shonga Farms, a 17,000-hectare crop, dairy, and poultry project, where the crop yields grew to 3 times the national average.
- Innovation though the implementation of the first Fertilizer Voucher Scheme (FVS) which ensured efficient delivery of subsidized fertilizers to the farmers who need it the most. This became the foundation for Nigeria’s national fertilizer wallet scheme.
- MSME Agricultural growth with the Provision of subsidized inputs and guaranteed credit facilities to small-scale farmers.
- Capacity development with the Fish Farming Training Centre, Ilorin, and Kwara State Crop Outgrowers Scheme leading to Increased production capacity and Alleviate poverty.
- Boosted tertiary education in the State with the establishment of Kwara State University.
- Responsible for a paradigm shift from quantitative to qualitative secondary and primary education with an updated curriculum and other policies.This pushed up Gross Enrollment Rate for primary schools from 78% in 2006 to 115% in 2009, with a gender disparity of less than 1%
- Innovation in specialist education with the establishment of the International Aviation College. The first State owned aviation college in NIgeria. The IAC has trained over 100 Nigerian pilots in 5 years. Most now flying for leading Nigerian aviation companies.
- Established the Kwara Football Academy, the first ever State-owned football training institution in Nigeria
- With widespread and efficient primary health care as core focus from Day 1, Dr Saraki upgraded a significant amount of Primary Health Centres with turn-key rehabilitation to WHO standard across the state.
- Established an award-winning sustainably successful community health insurance scheme which debuted at Shonga in 2006 and eventually scaled up. The scheme allows indigent patients in the informal sector to have unrestricted access to health services, for instance. Patronage increased at Shonga from 400 monthly to 42,000 monthly.
- To reduce the incidence of Kwara citizens taking medical trips abroad, Dr Saraki established Kwara’s State of the Art Medical Diagnostic Centre.
- Conceived and launched the largely successful Malaria- free Kwara Programme involving free treatment of malaria for pregnant women and under -5 children. This greatly reduced the maternal and infant mortality rate in the state.
- As a means of providing affordable optical care to the elderly and indigent Kwarans, the Kwara Eye Program in partnership with sight savers international screened over 48,526 people in Kwara and carried out 2,630 cataract surgeries
- To attract business and investment to Kwara State, the Dr Saraki administration rehabilitated the Ilorin Airport to international standard and constructed the Ilorin Cargo Terminal.
- Completion and commissioning of the Ganmo Power Substation to provide power to rural areas in Kwara. This helped government and businesses save billions which would have gone to alternative energy costs
- To support civil servants and low-income earners, Dr Saraki created Housing programmes which provided 1,551 new homes across Kwara State. These homes were available through sustainable mortgage programmes.
In 2007, he was elected as Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF).
- As chairman of the NGF, Dr. Saraki Initiated and promoted the Peer Review Mechanism which was the first of its kind at the sub-national level in the world. The DFID, the World Bank and the UNDP actively supported and lauded this initiative. This further elevated the status of the NGF and enforced the true spirit of Nigeria’s Federalism by ensuring that Federal policies reflect state interests.
- Pushed for several critical interventions in the affairs of the nation; including the facilitation of the adoption of the ‘Doctrine of Necessity’ that enabled the National Assembly to pronounce then Vice President Goodluck Jonathan as the Acting President. This intervention averted arguably the biggest constitutional crisis in Nigeria’s recent history.
- Working with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and governors across political parties, he changed the country’s approach in the fight against polio by facilitating the engagements with Nigerian States to properly implement the polio-eradication programme. Dr Saraki’s innovative and collaborative approach ended the scourge of Polio in Nigeria.
In 2011, Dr. Saraki was elected to represent the Kwara Central Senatorial District at the Senate. In his first term as Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, he served as the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Ecology and was a member of the Senate Committees on Capital Markets and Finance.
- In 2012, he was appointed into the Leadership council of the Global Alliance for Clean cookstoves, an initiative of the United Nations Foundation that aims to use public-private partnerships to create a thriving global market for clean cookstoves and fuels for over 100 million people by 2020.
- Established GLOBE Nigeria as an affiliate of the Global Legislators Organization (GLOBE International)
- Promoted the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency Amendment (NOSDRA) Bill to ensure that oil companies pay appropriate levels of compensation to communities affected by oil spills.
- Spearheaded the issue of Lead Poisoning in the mining areas of Zamfara State as well on the initiative for the Great Green Wall to combat desertification and climate change.
The Nigerian Senate Under the Leadership of Dr Saraki (2015 – 2019)
Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki served as the President of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria from 2015 – 2019. Under his leadership as the Senate President, the 8th Senate passed more bills than any previous senate and resolved more petitions than all past senates combined. it supported and passed the Not Too Young To Run bill, opened the National Assembly budget for public participation, concluded the Constitution amendment and passed the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) which seeks to provide for the governance and institutional framework for a renewed and transparent petroleum industry.
As Senate President, he guided a Senate which passed over 240 bills and cleared 138 public petitions. The Senate under his leadership has also worked to grow the Nigerian economy by initiating and passing bills which are aimed at improving and strengthening Nigeria’s business environment including:
- Passed the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB)
- Implementation of the 1% of Consolidated Revenue Fund’s budgetary provision towards Universal Healthcare for a stronger Nigeria
- Amended the Universal Basic Education Act to increase budgetary allocation to the UBE to 3% and secure 40% reduction in counterpart funding clause for states to access education intervention funds from the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC)
- Companies and Allied Matters Act
- Secured Transactions in Movable Assets Act
- Credit Bureau Reporting Act
- Warehouse Receipts Bill
- Nigerian Railways Authority Bill
- National Transportation Commission Bill.
- Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit Bill
- Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Bill
- Witness Protection Bill
- Whistleblower Protection Bill
- Federal Audit Service Commission Bill
Dr. Saraki is married to Toyin Ojora-Saraki, a lawyer and Founder-President of the Wellbeing Foundation Africa (WBF-Africa) and they have four children.