In Kwara, the Opposition is Collapsing

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Kwara State Governor, Abdulrahman Abdulrasaq

Hammed Shittu writes that the Peoples Democratic Party in Kwara State is in disarray, as its members switch loyalty to the All Progressives Congress

There is no doubt that, a new twist has manifested in the political calculations of Kwara state, in view of the recent pledging of loyalty and support of some leaders of the opposition, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) government of Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrasaq.

The government which came into office on strength of the political mantra, “O to Ge” (Enough is Enough) has since changed its slogan to ‘Ise Ti Ya’ (Work Has Commenced).

The reason for the development is not far-fetched as residents of the state who came out enmasse to vote for the APC during the 2019 general election are yearning for more dividends of democracy. In view of the fact that government is a continuum, there is the need to bring more goodies to their doorsteps than they have benefited from past governments in the state.

It is based on this premise that, the residents of the state decided to come under the political banner of “O To Ge” movement to challenge the status quo in the state led by the scion of the late strongman of Kwara politics and immediate past Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki who is also the leader of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state.

At the end of it all, the APC leadership which had personalities like the Information and Culture, Minister, Alhaji Lai Muhammed, the Minister of State (Transportation) and sister of Dr. Bulls Saraki, Senator Gbemisola Saraki, Chief Iyiola Oyedepo, the state chairman of the party, Hon. Bashr Bolarinwa, former Vice Chancellor of University of Ilorin, Professor Shuaib Oba Abdulraheem, former Secretary to the State Government (SSG) Senator Ahmed Ahmed, Alhaji Ndagene, among others worked in unity and commitment to ensure all the electoral seats at both the state and national assemblies were delivered to the APC in the 2019 national elections in the state.

Apart from this, their efforts were also crowned with the winning of the governorship position of the state that produced the incumbent governor Abdulrasaq as the sixth elected governor since the creation of the state in 1967.

However, since the ouster of the PDP from governance of the state, the party has not lived up to its expectations as an opposition party thereby failing a to provide the necessary checks and balance to the ruling APC in the state.

Apart from this, the PDP leaders who were supposed to be a rallying point for the party and members have since stayed away from the state after the last general election which political pundits believe has led many of the members of the party to seek greener pasture in other parties, especially the APC.

It would be noted that, the Saraki dynasty has been in total control of the political arena of the state for the past 40 years to the extent that, no politician in the state would take any political position either elective or appointments without their approval approval. Late Dr. Saraki was also a former Senate Leader in the aborted Second Republic. Senator Gbemisola Saraki was also elected into the senate between 2003-2007, while Dr. Bulls Saraki was also elected into the Senate between 2007-2015 and later emerged as the Senate President during the period.

Councillors, chairmen, state and national assemblies members, political appointees among others could not get the ticket on any political platform used by the Sarakis without their consent.

No wonder, almost 75 per cent of politicians in the state passed through the political dynasty of the Sarakis in the state. Even, some of them are still leading the space in the ruling APC in the state. Some of them have occupied political positions during the period under review.

However, since the emergence of the new leadership of Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrasaq, he has been working round the clock to ensure that all the politicians who are still with Dr. Saraki in the PDP are brought into the APC.

The development, according to THISDAY checks might not be unconnected with the alleged abandonment of some of the PDP leaders after the polls.

Although, there is still perceived internal wranglings in the ruling party in the state, the development has not stopped the governor from making contacts with the who-is-who in the state especially among the PDP followers to woo many of them into APC.

The development according to political pundits in the state might not be unconnected with the governor’s plan to strengthen his own political structures aside of the party structure ahead of future polls.

It was borne of this fact that a motley new groups have emerged with different names to work for the governor’s success. We have the likes of ‘Abdulrahman Abdulrasaq’ (AA) support group, ‘Friends of Abdulrahmam Abdulrasaq’ (FAA) support group and ‘Iseya Support Group’ among others have emerged across the 16 local government councils of the state ahead of the planned local government council polls in the state as the governor needs to develop a network of his own people.

Sources close to the party told journalists that, the party machinery was also said to be waiting in view of his alleged “one man show” of running the day-to-day administration of the state since he assumed office with the composition of the state executive council without recourse to the leadership of the party despite their joint efforts to oust Saraki dynasty from power.

The ugly development according to political pundits in the state may have created a division between the governor and some leaders of the party especially those that started the “O to Ge” movement in the state before the governor eventually dumped the PDP for APC when Dr. Saraki returned to the PDP in the state.

But, this perceived internal crisis in the party has not affected the day-to-day running affairs of the state under govenor Abdulrasaq led administration as various government programmes have been going on smoothly without any hindrance.

Various developmental projects in the area of roads, health, education, agriculture, civil service development among others have been the hallmark of the administration in the past eight months.

However, since the unprecedented outing of the new administration in the state and new approach to the governance in Kwara under governor Abdulrasaq, some top opposition PDP leaders recently paid a visit to the governor at Government House, Ilorin to pay their unalloyed loyalty and support to his government.

The recent solidarity visit to the governor at the Government House, Ilorin might not be unconnected with the series of meetings the PDP leaders had been having with him on their plan to join the APC.

At the visit, the PDP leaders said that, the governor’s leadership style, humility and attachment to the poor have brought a breath of fresh air to the state since he took over the mantle of leadership.

The top PDP leaders include former Commissioner for Information, Hon. Ben Duntoye, former member of the House of Representatives representing Patigi/Edu/Moro federal constituency, Hon. Yahaya Yunusa, former Permanent Secretary in the state,Hajia Bilikisu Danni, suspended Ifelodun local government council chairman, Mr. Garba Labaka, Alhaji Obalola Suleiman, among others.

The PDP leaders also comprised at least six suspended council chairmen, women and several youth leaders.

The meeting was attended by top government officials and politicians including Senior Adviser and Counsellor Kale Belgore; Special Adviser (Political) Saadu Salau; Special Adviser (Special Duties) Yinka Aluko; and Senator Suleiman Ajadi.

They stated why they have switched political party allegiance, “We can see a difference and people can feel that they have a government. The situation has changed in the area of road construction, water, health. You have also brought unmatched humility to governance.”

In his remarks at the meeting,. a PDP chieftain, Alhaji Obalola Suleiman, from Ifelodun local said at the meeting said, “You have started very well and our people are happy. We urge you to continue along that path. We are willing to work with you for the overall interest of our state.”

Also speaking, Hon. Duntoye, who aligned with Alhaji Obalola said, “You are a silent achiever. We can see things for ourselves and we want to be a part of this success story. We can see that you are doing more work than talk. This is evident in our various communities.”

A former federal lawmaker from Kwara North popularly called, “Bulldozer”. Hon. Yinusa, who also commended AbdulRazaq’s leadership said, “The next few months would record influx of thousands of opposition figures into the ruling APC on account of the Governor’s sterling effort to reposition Kwara. I am not surprised at the positive turn of things in Kwara. We were in CPC together and I can tell the great roles you played in assisting many of us who were contesting at the time. Your work is really speaking for you.”

Alhaji Labaka, a suspended chairman of Ifelodun local government area, commended the Governor for his “unrivalled tolerance and political maturity”, saying the Governor has neither stopped their salary nor subjected them to harassment as was the case in some other states. This clearly sets you apart as a great leader. We are very grateful to you for your tolerance and large-heartedness,” he said, adding that he has the mandate of all his colleagues to thank the Governor as well as appeal to him to return them to office.

Hajia Sanni, a retired permanent secretary and PDP chieftain, said the Governor has made history as the most gender friendly leader in the history of the state.

“We will continue to be grateful to you for this singular honour you’ve done to us as women. You have also changed the face of governance. It’s an entirely new pleasant experience for the people of Kwara a State,” she said.

AbdulRazaq, on his part, commended the opposition leaders for the visit and said he sees everyone as critical stakeholders for a greater Kwara.

“The situation we have found ourselves in Kwara is such that all hands must be on deck to move the state forward. We need everybody on board in this task.

“That is why I treat everyone as fellow Kwaran. From the civil service to other sectors, my concern has been how to stabilise our state for posterity,” he said.

AbdulRazaq explained his various interventions in the health and education sectors, water, road, as well as his upcoming efforts to tackle poverty and grow the economy through social investment programmes and health insurance scheme, drawing applause from members of the opposition.

But, speaking on the development, the state Public Relations Officer of the PDP, Hon. Tunde Ashaolu, said that the party had not collapsed into the APC in the state, adding that, “members of the party who paid the courtesy call to the governor are on their own.”

He said, “Those people had been meeting with the APC in the state from time. They may say they want to decamp, it’s not a big deal to us. And it doesn’t mean that we’ve disowned them. They’ve made personal and voluntary choice. It’s their personal decision. For us, it’s nothing to worry about. It’s only showed that they had been having underhand dealings with the ruling party before now. For us, the party is not shaken and remains indisoluble. The PDP did not suspend them. Some of the people were those council chairmen suspended by the governor. So, it’s a way to coerce them into the ruling party.”

QUOTE:

since the unprecedented outing of the new administration in the state and new approach to the governance in Kwara under governor Abdulrasaq, some top opposition PDP leaders recently paid a visit to the governor at Government House, Ilorin to pay their unalloyed loyalty and support to his government.
The recent solidarity visit to the governor at the Government House, Ilorin might not be unconnected with the series of meetings the PDP leaders had been having with him on their plan to join the APC