After Kwara primaries, PDP parades superior cohesive potency for 2019

Senate President, Bukola Saraki


Unless the leadership of All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kwara State takes prompt and genuine reconciliatory steps, the chances of the party winning the 2019 general election in the state appear slim. 

Many observers have described APC as a party of strange bedfellows in the state. Yet, the party has a mission, which it says is to dismantle the age-long political structure headed by the Senate President Bukola Saraki and give the people of the state a new taste of socio-political and economic breath of life. In fact, the horse race has been narrowed to the groups of those loyal to Saraki and those vehemently opposed to his unrelenting grip on leadership. 

Nevertheless, events preceding the primary elections involving more than 10 governorship aspirants in the party exposed, negative signals to political analysts that egotism rather than zeal for alternative governance style is what is on display among leaders of the party in the state. 

Although no formal announcement was made by the umpires at the primary after some 48 hours of the event, over 95 per cent of APC stalwarts in the state confirmed to The Guardian in Ilorin that the oil magnate, Alhaji AbdulRahaman AbdulRasak, remains the gubernatorial candidate of the party for the much anticipated poll. 

No sooner had the information filtered in (aside from Dele Belgore, who had announced his withdrawal from the race and asked his supporters to align with “my brother AbdulRasak,”) than supporters of other aspirants trooped to the street to protest the result, while others addressed the press on their rejection of the result. 

But Professor Shuaib Oba AbdulRaheem was quoted to have hinged his hope on the alleged credibility of the national leadership of APC to right the wrong in the aftermath of the primary.  Nevertheless, AbdulRaheem, the respected former Vice Chancellor of University of Ilorin, said as a democrat, he would not allow his supporters to rock the boat aimed at dethroning Saraki from the political leadership of the state. 

After the initial commotion by his supporters, an aspirant, Yahaya Seriki, took time to calm them down. He urged them on the need to accept the will of God to prevail in the results of the primary. As a mark of a true peacemaker, sources said the aspirant instructed that his billboards be replaced with those of the favoured aspirant. 

On his part, Alhaji Moshood Mustapha, who was outrightly disqualified before the primary, challenged the alleged denial of his “fundamental human rights on no particular premise.” Mustapha, who denied insinuations that he was a mole for Saraki, said the subsisting parallel line between him and the Senate President  “is for real.”

The only aspirant who seems unperturbed by the outcome is Hakeem Oladimeji Mohammed, son of the late former state governor, Mohammed Alabi Lawal. Lawal had, after the primary, sued for peace even as he described the process leading to the emergence of AbdulRasak as divine.

The atmosphere in Kwara APC after the primary remains murky and uncertain as many stalwarts are said to be contemplating defection, a threat that may further make potent the political portion being prepared by the Saraki group. 

An elder statesman in the party, Dr. Rex Olawoye, however told The Guardian that the mission of APC and its faithful is that of to ousting the Saraki political hegemony. Olawoye, who is a former Ifelodun Local Government Chairman, said: “We have reasoned together as members of the same family and that this is not the right time for us to cry over spilled milk.  The reality of life is that in every tango only one person will win.  In the present case, AbdulRasak is the winner and we have all agreed to sincerely work for him. 

“I was also an aspirant for the House of Representatives, but lost during the primary election.  I did not join APC primarily to win any elective position; I joined to secure a future for my offspring and myself. Unless we all imbibe this spirit, we can not break from the snare of political siege we have found ourselves in Kwara State.”

In a similar tone, a former PDP Chairman in the state, Akogun Iyiola Oyedepo, urged all “true members of Kwara APC to accept the results of the primary elections we should not fight over it because of our common interest and heritage.”Oyedepo, an ‘Isin’ born politician, is believed to have been penciled down for the post of running mate to AbdulRasak if the party decided to zone the position to Kwara North Senatorial District. Many observers said his choice would not just engender the religious balancing, but also stand as compensation for his doggedness as an age-long opposition leader in the state’s politics. 

The present situation in Kwara APC which appears knotty, may have found its way lately into the PDP camp as well with the alleged presentation of fake NYSC (National Youth Corps) Exemption Certificate by its governorship candidate, AbdulRasak Atunwa. Sources confided in The Guardian that the development might be the handiwork of some rival PDP governorship aspirants who lost out to Atunwa. Besides, others said it could be a calculated attempt by the party hierarchy to secure legal and moral teeth to substitute the candidate.

But Atunwa, has denied as untrue and unfounded an online newspaper’s report that he forged his NYSC certificate, stressing that he did not submit any ‘unsupported’ NYSC certificate as suggested by the online medium.Sources said Saraki, who covertly spent some 60 hours at his ‘Ile-Loke’ residence, in Iloffa Road Ilorin, some five days ago, sorting things out with his political foot soldiers, seems to have ignored the certificate saga, pledged his support for Atunwa.

According to one of his aides, Suleiman Yusuf, Saraki is said to be pointing accusing fingers at the opposition group in the state for allegedly “sponsoring lies against our candidate in the media.”Despite the development at the PDP camp, it is obvious that Kwara PDP looks more organised than APC just as the former has a more proven structure than the latter. 

As the battle for the soul of Kwara rages on, at the end of the day it is the electorate that would determine where the pendulum of victory would eventually swing. AbdulRasak, a successful businessman before entering politics, told journalists that he is out to serve the state and the people and turn Kwara into a commercial nerve centre in Nigeria. 

He noted: “Many states are crawling today because they depend solely on monthly allocations from the Federal Government. This is wrong in view of other challenges they have to face. A badly fixed economy will no doubt breed poverty and turn the people into unprofitable elements of the society. We want to eradicate poverty and restore the dignity of all the people of Kwara. I will therefore enjoin my colleagues within the party and our admirers across the state to make the dream come into reality.”

While insisting that governance is about the welfare of the people and infrastructural development of the state, Atunwa stated: “We want to replicate the good old days when we will put smiles on the faces of our people, when human dignity and value will be the prime factor for developmental objectives.”

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