– By Hammed Shittu in Ilorin
It is still a surprise to keen political watchers of Nigerian politics that the outgoing Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki who bestrode the nation’s political space like a colossus has been relegated, even in his home state, Kwara where he didn’t even win his senatorial to return to the national assembly.
As if that was not enough, all the candidates of his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) were roundly defeated by the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) a development that signalled the tragic (or temporary end of Saraki’s political dynasty).
The dynasty that hitherto dictated who gets what in the state, be it elective or political, became the opposition in the political sphere of the state.
Going down the memory lane,the senate president, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki ,a political maestro had been winning elections for any political party he decided to pitch his tent with ,100% since 2007.
When he contested against his father late Dr Abubakar Olusola Saraki who insisted in 2011 that Senator Gbemisola Saraki should take over from him after his two terms as a governor instead of the outgoing Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed, who Dr Bukola Saraki preferred, Dr Bukola Saraki and his party still won 100%
Shortly after his father Dr Abubakar Olusola Saraki popularly called ‘Oloye’ the then strongman of Kwara politics died after reconciliation with Dr Bukola Saraki over the political upset in the family caused by the outcome of that election, Dr. Bukola Saraki then took over the political empire though without the backing of his immediate younger sister Senator Gbemisola Saraki who was never seen anywhere round him but in the camp of the opposition till now.
Dr Bukola Saraki since he was elected the governor of the state in 2003, had grown up through the tutelage of his father Dr Abubakar Olusola Saraki the then strong man of Kwara politics.
He grew up to understood the political architecture to the extent that he had a perfect means of reaching out to virtually every member of his support base and thus sustained the political dynasty he inherited.
The beginning to the end of Sarakis political rulership in the state indeed started with the winning of eight councillorship and one chairmanship seats in the last local government elections by the opposition members in 2018 which never happened in the political history of the state.
The icing on the cake for the opposition members in the state was the by election in Ekiti/Irepodun/Isin/Okeero federal constituency the opposition APC won on November 17,2018 after the demise of Princess Olufunke
Adedoyin of the PDP.
In a veiled attempt by Saraki’s dynasty to address the political error by returning the Kwara south senatorial ticket to the incumbent Senator Rafiu Adebayo Ibrahim from Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed who was initially given, more political confusion set in. The INEC initially retained Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed who had been campaigning for his successor on its list claiming that the substitution letter was submitted late.
Shortly after, Governor Abdulfatah campaign posters allegedly dotted his Share hometown and other strategic areas in Kwara South. No sooner after the time court ordered INEC to return Senator Rafiu Ibrahim’s name on its list,the police arrested him two days to the election over clash by his supporters and that of arch rival in APC, Arc Lola Ashiru during which two lives were lost and he was not released until after the presidential and national assembly election.
Political pundits believe that,.things started falling apart and center could no longer hold when not a few of his aides through which he used to reach out to the people started diverting the resources and political privileges meant for all ,to their own private, family and friends use.
These aides have become so rich in the community ,flaunting those affluence to the hatred of those with whom they should be shared.
They successfully did this for a long time knowing full well that there was no way such victims could ever get to the leader Dr BukolaSaraki as hes fondly called to lodge compliant.
To make matters worse, Bukola Saraki too abandoned or so it seems, other means through which he used to know and confirm the true feelings of the people about his.political leadership and when the combinations of these political errors started having debilitating effect on the dynasty, it was already too late for Dr BukolaSaraki to make any meaningful amendment.
The masses including mostly the youths,the women folk and men too particularly the artisans have been traumatised with anger over resources meant for all but cornered over the years by the privileged few and nothing was fundamentally done about it.
Not a few times, empowerment items meant to alleviate the sufferings of followers were allegedly sold off,while in other cases Dr Sarakis aides present their cronies to collect such empowerment items for private use.
Also political appointments have not been evenly distributed but restricted within the privileged few who have been in government with their relations and friends for not less than ten years now.
The aggrieved and so many others who have these serial complaints were therefore easily swayed when the opposition All Progressives Congress(APC) came with their message of liberation.
It was thus easy to consider the available political alternative which was one of the main reasons “O to ge” movement(enough is enough) was effective for the dynasty to give way.
The advent of O to ge: movement in the state propounded by opposition, APC has taken over the lips of many residents of the state especially youths, women, among others. They have made up their minds to thrown their support to any candidate that may put forward by the APC to face any candidate put forward by Saraki to vie for any elective positions in the state during the polls. The movement spread like flame fire has touched nooks and crannies of the 16 local government councils as people viewed that the alleged poor governance that had characterised the outgoing government must come to an end and therefore demanded for a new change that would usher in good governance to be controlled by the APC.
To make matters further complicated THiSDAY further learnt that the outgoing governor Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed who could have made up for these errors at the home front has not lived up to expectations.
He was a banker and technocrat who spends by calculation and doesn’t see needs often time to spend money for political needs.
Over the years having enjoyed the plum of political office as commissioner for finance for eight years and a governor of eight years by May 29,Sai Maigida as fondly called by his admirers has largely failed to see to the political needs of the people which Dr Bukola Saraki had also been aware of interesting too ,not a few of his aides flaunt the wealth of the government in the public space even as Governor Ahmed always tells his friends and those who come across him for one needs or the other the story of the stale economic theory of no money in kwara.
The last straw that dealt the camel blow towards the fall of Sarakis political empire last weekend was the exit of the major aides ofDr Bukola Sarakis over irreconcilable politicaldiffences. Among such former political “soldiers” include the former Secretary to the state Government(SSG) and now House of Reos elect for Ilorin East/Ilorin South federal constituency, Alhaji Saka Cook Olododo, and former special adviser on Special Duties and former member of House of Reps,Alhaji Moshood Mustapha.
It is not under statement to say that these aides understood him too well and even the winning streak of the dynaaty. While, the need to reconcile with them for political reason was expedient but called bluff of them and this seriously affected his political fortune in the state.
Also, the decision of Dr.Saraki to seek presidential ambition amd his consequent appointment as the Director General of Atiku campaign organisation has brought alot of untold hardship to his political fortune because governor Ahmed that he left home for could not make any impact in assuading the political growth of the dynasty in the state.
However, on February 23 presidential and national assembly polls when the results of the election was coming out, Dr.Bukola Saraki and his party, PDP, failed to win any single position in the national assembly positions including his senatorial position, Kwara central senatorial ticket as APC clinched all the positions.
Besdies, the dynasty and his party, PDP equally lost presidential election to president Muhammadu Buhari during the poll, a signal of purported rejection of the dynasty and his PDP in the state.
By the time election results as announced by INEC on Sunday, to the chagrin of members of the family of Bukola Sarakis political empire was one blow too many.The leader himself Dr Bukola lost his senatorial seat and so was all the national assembly candidates of PDP and also Atiku Abubakar the party’s presidential candidate in kwara state.
Moreover, on March 9 governorship and state house of assembly polls in the state, the leaders and members of APC won the governorship and all the 24 seats of the state house of assembly.
This superlative outing of APC in the election has finally led to the fallen of Kwara Berlin wall of politics led by Saraki dynasty in the state.
On March 10 when the INEC declared the APC governorship candidate,Alhaji Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq was declared tje winner and governor elect of the governorship polls, the ancient town of Ilorin and other parts of the state were thrown into joyful celebration as it was a dream come true to him.
Alhaji Abdulrasaq polled the total votes of 331,546 to defeat his arch rival in the polls, the PDP governorship candidate Hon. Razak Atunwa that polled 114,754 votes
The billionaire business man was not new in Kwara politics, his doggedness and determination to govern the state of harmony surely brought him this far.
He had been an arch enemy of Sarakis political dynasty in the state and represents anything that opposes the dynasty until fate smile on him.
It will be noted further here that,.the major booster for the victory of All Progressives Congress at the polls was the O to ge political slogan adopted by the gubernatorial candidate and indeed all the candidates of the party.
Like a child play O to ge became a movement that came on the lips of the majority across the nooks and crannies of the state who suddenly started hate talks about Dr Bukola Saraki s political dynasty though some said it was spiritual.
Also the local radio stations had done various programs to showcase talks about the evils of the government over the years a development that fuelled the acceptability of O to ge movement.
Though the opposition Peoples Democratic Party(PDP)in the state countered with O tun ya meaning Lets do it again but the impact was politically nil as it was despised by the majority.
Also, the former aides of Dr Bukola Saraki who defected to the All Progressives Congress over irreconcilable political differences did more damage by revealing the winning strategies of the dynasty which helped in no small means in the APC landslide victory.
The O to ge movement has done the expected for the All Progressives Congress in the state but the members were quick to tell their leaders that they only created a level playing for everyone by developing the state that the incoming administration of Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq should be prepared to perform or be voted out in the next years.
Meanwhile, in his congratulatory message to the people of the state,the governor elect, Alhaji Abdulrasaq dedicated his electoral victory of the March 9 governorship and state house of assembly polls to the people of the state, home and abroad, who stood resolutely to see through the democratic revolution that started many years ago.
In a statement issued in Ilorin signed by his media officer, Mr.Rafiu Ajakaye said that, “much as this historic event calls for celebrations, we instead implore our people to reflect on the challenges ahead and the need to come together as this victory belongs to all Kwarans”.
According to the statement,”March 9, the people of Kwara State finally shook off the yoke of political subjugation and socioeconomic stagnation by voting overwhelmingly for our party (APC) in the governorship and House of Assembly elections”.
The statement said that, “We are faced with the challenge of evolving a Kwara that works for all, away from the abysmal state of affairs now..
“We promise to diligently implement our manifesto for the good of our people and we salute all the heroes of this struggle, including all those who paid the supreme sacrifice. May their souls rest in perfect peace.
“We commend our party members, leaders at the local, state and national levels for their sterling efforts and contributions to this victory.
“We thank our traditional rulers for their fatherly roles. We also commend the security agencies, electoral officers and other stakeholders who performed their duties creditably.
“We also thank the media for their professionalism. Finally, we are grateful to everyone who supported the O to ge movement”.
Also in his congratulatory, the PDP governorship candidate, Hon.Razak Atunwa congratulated the winner of the election, Alhaji AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Atunwa, in a statement iasued last night in Ilorin also thanked God for His blessings as well PDP’s leadership and supporters who stood by him during the just concluded elections in the state.
He added: “I would like to thank the PDP leadership and all our supporters who stood by me in the just concluded elections.
“Your commitment and dedication is heart-warming. You all gave your best. We are all winners in the process of democracy.
“Whilst the Party considers its next line of action, and without prejudice to any legal process, I offer my congratulations to AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq.
“I pray that Kwara will continue to be a state of harmony and witness further development in the next administration. My utmost gratitude goes to Almighty God for His blessings.”
The outgoing governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed also. congratulated the governor-elect, Alhaji Abdulrasak Abdulrahman on his victory at the just concluded gubernatorial election in the state.
In a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Abdulwahab Oba last night in Ilorin Gov Ahmed also felicitated with Kwarans saying “Abdulrasak’s emergence is a manifestation of Kwarans’ resolve to give democracy a chance and allow another leadership to serve them”.
Governor Ahmed also congratulated the All Progressives Congress(APC) on the new mandate and advised the party to justify the confidence reposed in it by the electorate.
The Governor, who urged Kwarans to cooperate with the in-coming administration, promised to ensure a seamless transition to enhance smooth take-off of the new government to fast track deliverance of democratic dividends to Kwarans.
Ahmed thanked Kwarans and the PDP members for their hard work during the elections and the opportunity given to him to serve his fatherland as governor.
However, for the outgoing Senate president Dr Bukola Saraki the wind of change that had blown him away from Kwara and indeed national politics must have shocked him to the marrow.
That all his political strategies and promises of his foot soldiers failed him no doubt thought him some good moral lessons about life that no champion reigns for ever.
The sister Senator Gbemisola Saraki who was claimed to be happy about the political downfall of his brother,.saying that their late father Dr Abubakar Olusola Saraki aka Oloye will only rest in peace now.
By and large, the residents of the state are now waiting for a new dawn in the political sphere of the state as the governor electt, Alhaji Abdulrasaq is setting to take over the mantle of leadership of the state come May 29, this year. Time will tell.