Saraki Consolidates in Kwara

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‎After the council elections that saw the Peoples Democratic make gains in some strongholds of the All Progressives Congress, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki stepped in. His intervention has yielded positive results, Hammed Shittu reports

Ahead of the 2019 general election, Senate President, Dr Abubakar Saraki is tightening his grip on his home state, Kwara.
Across the three senatorial districts in the state, Saraki is reaching out to both friends and foes. The interesting thing is that the people are receptive to his messages. Those claiming that ‘Saraki is finished in Kwara’ may be living in a fool paradise. His efforts to consolidate his political leadership and his father’s dynasty have yielded positive result.
Already there is a mass defection of members of the Peoples Democratic Party in one of the strong hold of the opposition party in the state, Oke- Ero Local Government Area of the state to the All Progressives Congress.

This local government council in question is home to supporters of the governorship candidate of the PDP during the 2015 general election in the state, Senator Simeon Ajibola.

During that election, the PDP gave the APC a serious fight and mounted a serious challenge to the political control and leadership of Saraki in the state.

But, with the current political leadership consolidation embarked on by Saraki across the three senatorial districts of the state, many opposition groups have seen the reason to return to the Saraki political hegemony that had been in existence for over 40 years. The Senate President is funding many welfare programmes in the state.

Saraki has extended assistance in education and other areas to indigent people in the state and this has now brought a new political dimension to the political calculations ahead of the next year general election

Many indigent students across the three senatorial districts benefited immensely from Saraki’s widows mite this year by paying the examination fees of final year students of secondary schools in the state. This gesture has changed the heart of many people in the state towards coming to terms with his political leadership.

Also, the supply of free Joint Admission and Matriculation Board’s forms to some final year students across the three senatorial districts has further encouraged many people to switch their loyalty and political leadership to Saraki.

As this was not enough, Saraki has been given financial assistance to the needy to enable them meet their daily needs. This has further endeared more people to the senate president.
It should be pointed out that Saraki did not base the assistance on political party or religious consideration. Whether they are members of PDP or APC is not an issue. What is important to him is whether they are in need or not.
Data obtained by this correspondent from the constituency office of the senate president located along Olorunsogo area, in Ilorin popularly called Mandate Office, show that PDP members benefited in large numbers from the gestures.

However, in return for this gesture of Saraki, the ancient town of Ilofa, the headquarters of Oke-Ero Local Government council of the state was turned into a carnival following the defection of over 3,000 members of the PDP to the ruling APC citing the good political leadership of Saraki.

The event which took place at the Jamaat Primary School, Ilofa showed that the defectors were very happy to join the APC.

Addressing the mammoth crowd, the leader of the decampees who is also a former chairmanship candidate of the PDP during the last November 18, local government council election in the state, Mr. Wale Asonibare said that, “we decided to dump the PDP in view of the sterling political leadership of the Senate president, Saraki.”

He said that, “Saraki is a political juggernaut of note that has been working hard to lead the state and Nigeria to the promised land.

“I want to say that, nothing will be too small to work with him (Saraki) so as to realise the objective in order to move the nation forward”.

Asonibare however said that the need for him and his supporters to leave the PDP was necessitated by the lack of focus, vision and internal democracy within the p PDP, which he described as ‘dead and dry bone’.

He also described the PDP as a sinking party adding that,” there is no doubt that, the PDP lacks internal democracy and this would not lead the party to any where in the next year general election both in the state and the nation in particular.”

Welcoming the decampees to the APC on behalf of the Senate President, Alhaji Jimoh Balogun, the APC Kwara South Senatorial Chairman lauded the decision of the defectors for making the right decision at the right time.

Balogun stated that, the effort of the Kwara South Senator, Dr Rafiu Adebayo Ibrahim cannot be overemphasized in making the defection a reality.

He added, “Only a fool who doesn’t know what politics means would join the opposition in Kwara, as any political mission in Kwara without Saraki is a mission to nowhere and that will amount to an exercise in futility”.

Balogun said that Asonibare and other defectors moved out of the deceitful PDP because the party has become moribund and noted that the achievements of APC government of Kwara State and the leadership template provided by Saraki have silenced the opposition permanently.

He therefore, urged other politicians that remained in PDP to pack their things and join the progressive ruling party for the betterment of the state and her citizens.
Party leaders and stakeholders of the APC at hand to receive the defectors are the APC Chairman in Oke-Ero LGA, Chief Joseph Adeniyi; the Executive Chairman of Oke-Ero LGA, Hon. Bayo Oni; member representing Oke-Ero constituency at the Kwara State House of Assembly; former KWHA member, Dr Abraham Ashaolu; a former Commissioner in the state, Hon. Kayode Towoju, and the immediate past commissioner for energy, Hon. Muideen Alalade.
In separate speeches, they all agreed that the event was remarkable for the APC members and loyalists in the local government area and Kwara State in general.

Promising the new members that their interest would be jealously protected, the APC leaders said that, they would not regret their coming to the ruling APC.
They however, commended the bravery of Asonibare for leading the defectors to leave the PDP.

They unanimously saluted the courage of the decampees to take the bull by the horn in dumping their former party to join the progressive party to build a new direction for themselves, urging the new and old members to work as a team for the success of the party in the future elections.

Other APC leaders who received the decampees were; former Special Adviser to the Governor of Kwara State, Prince Deji Oni, Alhaji Yusuf Olaniyi and Hon. Mrs Margret Abegunde, Senior Legislative Aide to the Senate President among others.

Also welcoming the defectors, the leadership of the APC in Kwara said the defection of the decision to defect from PDP to APC has shown the acceptability of the political leader of the state and the Senate President, Saraki.

In a statement issued in Ilorin and signed by the state Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Sulyman Buhari the party said that, “with the most recent defection of PDP leaders and their foot soldiers to the APC, the camp of the PDP in Kwara State has been further depleted.

“Considering the strength of the defectors, Buhari said that, “It is clear that the PDP will never recover from this colossal depletion of its camp”.

The statement added that, “unlike the recently stage-managed defection by the Peoples Democratic Party in Kwara State, the defection which took place today is real, genuine and massive.”

The statement therefore assured the defectors of equal opportunities and fair play and urged the defectors to immediately team up with party members at the grassroots level.
Going by the enthusiasm shown by the defectors, things are looking up for Saraki and his party, the APC in Kwara.

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Going by the enthusiasm shown by the defectors, things are looking up for Saraki and his party, the APC in Kwara.