Stakeholders Step Up Move to Produce Gov AbdulRazaq’s Successor in Kwara

Hammed Shittu writes about the array of political gladiators in Kwara State in deft moves to succeed Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq come 2027.

As the 2027 general election is fast approaching, political activities, although surreptitiously, have kicked off across the three senatorial districts of Kwara State.

The activities, according to THISDAY checks, might not be unconnected with the move to succeed Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq who will be completing his eight years as the state governor by 2027. 

The All Progressives Congress (APC) had recorded a 100% victory in the 2019 general elections in the state by defeating the then ruling Peoples Democrstic Party (PDP). 

The APC, despite obvious crises, repeated the same feat in the 2023 elections. 

Before the 2023 polls, APC major stakeholders, notable among who were the then Minister of Information, Lai Muhammed; the former state chairman of the party, Hon. Bashir Omolaja Bolarinwa, then Senator representing Kwara Central, Dr. Suleiman Oloriegbe; then House of Representatives member representing Ilorin East and South Federal Constituency, Hon. Abdulganiyu Olododo; then House of Assembly member representing Offa Local Government,  Hon. Saheed Popoola, and former Chairman,  Federal Character Commmission, Prof AbdulRaheem Oba, among others, had engaged in open confrontation with the governor. 

But, it will be noted that,  some of the aggrieved members had since returned to the group of Governor AbdulRazaq.

The opposition PDP zoned its governorship position to Kwara North for what the party said “for equity, justice and fairness”. However, according to THISDAY findings, the emergence of Shuaibu Abdullahi Yaman,  a known APC member until a few days to the PDP governorship primaries, as the party’s standard flag bearer created more troubles for the party, as most gubernatorial aspirants may not have been committed to his victory. 

As AbdulRazaq rounds off his second term, THISDAY checks revealed that the two major parties in the state, the PDP and the APC, have started taking stock of their outings with the intent of restrategising to outwit each other.

The opposition PDP, led by former Senate President Bukola Saraki, has been working round the clock to change the narrative of the aftermath of the 2023 general elections and also to ensure that the party achieves greater success than the 2019 and 2023 elections in the state.

The party has, therefore, evolved a masterplan that the leadership believes might help the party achieve more success in 2027 as the era of zoning elective offices in the party might have been shelved for another time.

According to the party in a statement issued by its publicity secretary, Mr. Olusegun Olusola Adewara (Sholymen) all PDP members in the state are now free to seek elective posts without recourse to where they hail from so as to ensure equity, justice and fair play in the political game.

For the ruling APC led by Governor AbdulRazaq, it is believed that it was high time the people of Kwara North senatorial district had the taste of leadership of the state in 2027 for justice and equity to prevail in the state. 

The last time the zone tasted governance was during the ill-fated Third Republic 1992 when Senator Shaaba Lafiaji ruled the state under the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP) after which successive leadership of the state has been coming from the central and the southern senatorial districts. 

THISDAY checks revealed that Kwara Central produced late Mohammed Lawal (1999-2003), former governor Bukola Saraki (2003-2011), the incumbent Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq (2019 till date) while former governor, Cornelius Adebayo ( October 2003 – December 2003) and Dr Abdulfatah Ahmed (2011-2019) came from the South. 

Stakeholders, especially some traditional rulers who have been recently accused of being covertly involved in political merchandisation in the state, have been scouting for an acceptable candidate from Kwara North. 

In the ruling APC, the incumbent Speaker of the State Assembly, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Danladi-Salihu is, according to a dependable source, favoured by the sitting governor to clinch the governorship ticket.

Also, the serving Senators representing Kwara Central Saliu Mustapha and his counterpart from Kwara North, Sadiq Umar and  the former member representing Ilorin West/Asa federal constituency, Hon. Mashood Mustapha, are all being touted to throw their hats into the ring.

Danladi-Salihu, a youth and a new breed politician savouring his maiden political exposure in the state chamber, who is rumoured to have the backing of Governor AbdulRazaq, is from the north senatorial district of the state. The zone had in the past made several attempts to realise the goal.

Various political summits had been convened by the people of the area especially traditional rulers and the political class to work as an entity to enable the zone get the governorship position come 2027.

However, it seems there is alleged lack of unity of purpose in the zone  as this  manifested at the 2023 polls when the opposition PDP fielded a northern candidate, Alhaji Shuaib Abdullahi from Edu local government but all efforts to ensure the people of the zone work together for Abdullahi’s victory yielded no positive result.

Political pundits in the state believe that, if care is not taking, this perceived lack of unity of purpose in the zone  may also hinder the emergence of a Kwara North candidate come 2027.

Aside this, some residents who spoke with THISDAY recently unanimously vented their anger and determination to turn their backs on the APC because of what they regard as unfriendly polices of the government at both state and federal levels.

The Speaker would also need to work with other tendencies in APC as there are groups in the party that believe they have been sidelined and abandoned shortly after the successful outing of “O To Ge”(enough is enough) movement from 2019 to date.

Chairman, Senate Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Saliu Mustapha is one of the governorship contenders. Though he is yet to declare his intention for the plum position, his body language portrayed him to be interested in the governorship race.

Mustapha, who is the Turaki of Ilorin, remains an experienced politician of almost over 30 years. He was once former deputy chairman of the defunct Congress for Progressives Change (CPC). His political influence assisted the ruling APC to win the 2023 general elections in the state. His philanthropic gestures remained a major tool for the lawmaker. He has been a kind and humble personality that is loved by the members of APC  and even in the other opposition political parties in the state.

The Senator representing Kwara North senatorial district, Sadiq Umar, a pharmacist by profession, is quoted to have showed interest in the 2027 governorship position.

Consequently, he was said to have formed his support group that has been moving round to garner the APC leaders and members in the state for his gubernatorial ambition.  

Another aspirant is the former lawmaker representing Ilorin West/Asa Federal constituency, Hon. Mashood Mustapha, a business mogul and astute politician. 

He was one of the APC gubernatorial aspirants in the build-up to the 2019 general elections in the state. 

He has the capacity and the tenacity to vie for the plum position but his recent face-off with Governor AbdulRazaq on the award of N17.8 billion Kwara Hotel rehabilitation contract and the demolition of his business arena on Sulu-Gambari Road, Ilorin have posed serious question to his ambition. 

Mustapha fondly called MM by his admirers  is a politician of note that cannot be ignored in the political calculations of the state when the time comes.

In the opposition PDP, the aspirants include the former Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Professor Ali Ahmad and the present Director General of the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS), Professor Suleiman Abubakar. These aspirants are from Kwara Central Senatorial District of the state. 

Though, there is another aspirant from the zone – Engineer Sulaiman Bolakale Kawu Agaka – who is yet to declare either as an aspirant or member of any political party.   

Kawu, a traditional title holder of Ilorin Emirate, the Dan Iya of Ilorin, is a consumate administrator per excellence. He is an electrical engineer who has worked across the country and has been honoured by various social organisations in Ilorin and beyond.

As a community man and philanthropist, Kawu has touched many lives by using his potentials to effect new lease of life in the less privileged.

Although, he is yet to pitch tent with the state PDP, stakeholders within the emirate across political divide who appreciate his immense contributions and values have ceaselessly demanded his foray into politics, believing it would have positive impact on the socio-economic development of the state. 

For Professor Ali, popularly called “Ali Dodo”, he is a consumate politician, having occupied various positions in the state. He was a former commissioner as well as former state and federal lawmaker.  

His outstanding performances as a member of the House of Representatives and the Speaker, State House of Assembly is yet to be equalled in the political annals of the state. 

No doubt, he is an experienced politician that has  garnered desired exposures to provide quality leadership if he eventually emerges as the next governor of the state.

DG NILDS, Professor Suleiman Abubakar, was a former governorship aspirant of the PDP before he got the national assignment with the NILDS in Abuja. He was said to have regrouped his political associates under the banner of “Amana” to realise his ambition. 

Though, still on the federal government’s payroll, his political group in the party have been toiling day and night for him to clinch the PDP’s gubernatorial ticket in 2027.

THISDAY, however,  gathered that Suleiman may likely sooner than later, pitch his tent with the ruling APC. 

One of his supporters who sought anonymity  said Suleiman is banking on the support of the presidency and the National Assembly to realise his gubernatorial ambition.  

Speaking with our correspondent on the ongoing intrigues in the two political parties ahead of 2027, an APC chieftain who sought anonymity said “the move is a normal one in the political calculations ahead of next elections but our party would need to convince the people of the state on what they have done since assumption of office that would make the residents continue to vote the party”.

According to him: “the present economic hardship in the country is of serious concern and our party is in power both at the center and the state.  We need to do everything possible to address the concerns of the masses to ensure that the people vote for our candidates in future polls”.

Also commenting, a chieftain of the PDP,  who also sought anonymity said “the PDP in the state has already jettisoned the issue of zoning arrangement and this will assist the party to pick any candidate from any part of the state come 2027.

“And we have been working and I know the next election in the state would not be like that of 2023”.

By and large, with the arrays of qualified political actors in the two major political parties, the APC and the PDP, in Kwara State, the race to the Ahmadu Bello Government House, Ilorin, may not be a tea party as the affected politicians have set agenda to outwit each other when the time comes.

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