One week to D-Day: Who wins Kwara election?
THE Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Labour Party (LP) are leading the pack of stakeholders looking to cause a break from the status quo in the affairs of Kwara State through next Saturday’s governorship election.
Critics, mainly members of the opposition, have described the 48-year-old state as failing to match its longevity with proportionate social, political and economic growth. They have blamed the situation on a political style that has existed for many years.
Out of the more than 10 governorship candidates that are being paraded by the different registered political parties, only three — incumbent Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Simeon Ajibola of the main opposition PDP and Labour Party’s Dr Mike Omotosho - are being seen as capable of making a mark on Election Day.
Interestingly, the three main contenders are from Kwara South Senatorial District. While Ahmed is from Irepodun Local Government Area, the two others hail from Ekiti Local Government Area.
Most of the other political parties in the race and their candidates are nowhere near the statuses of the leading parties and their candidates.
According to political watchers, the rating of the top three candidates is based on such factors as their campaign programmes and the level of the acceptance of the parties they represent.
Prior to the first leg of the general elections — presidential and National Assembly elections — campaigns by the three leading political parties in the state were at fever pitch.
Some political observers in the state have expressed the view that the victory of APC’s General Muhammadu Buhari over PDP’s and adoptive LP’s joint candidate, President Goodluck Jonathan, last Saturday, would affect the morale of supporters of both parties in next week’s election.
But other political watchers have argued that the outcome of the presidential election would have no role to play in the governorship poll in the state. They believe that if the APC allowed the electoral success at the federal level to go to its head, it might be its undoing. This notion was based on the premise of the perceived determination of the opposition parties to change the leadership and political structure in the state once and for all.
Buhari had scored 302,146 votes to beat Jonathan, who scored 132,602 votes, in the state. The result of the election, as presented at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) collation centre in Abuja by the state collation officer and vice chancellor of the Federal University of Technology, Minna, Professor Musbau Akanji, showed that 489,360 voters were accredited for the poll.
The following is how the parties performed in the poll in all the 16 local government areas of the state: Asa, APC, 17,455 – PDP, 7,427; Edu, APC, 24,335 – PDP, 9,262; Ekiti, APC, 4,952 – PDP, 4,983; Isin, APC, 4,658 – PDP, 4,635; Patigi, APC, 16,044 – PDP, 5,315; Offa, APC, 22,233 – PDP, 4,496; Oke-Ero, APC, 4,970 – PDP, 5,260; Ilorin East, APC, 28,111 – PDP, 12,756; Ilorin South, APC, 26,348 – PDP, 12,209; Ilorin West, APC, 58,145 – PDP, 21,573; Oyun, APC, 9,389 – PDP, 5,877; Ifelodun, APC, 20,414 – PDP, 10,826; Irepodun, APC, 13,265 – PDP, 8,062; Kaiama, APC, 15,468 – PDP, 8,854; Moro, APC, 15,311 – PDP, 8,901; Baruten, APC, 21,048 - PDP 8,854.
The LP had come third in the election, the result of which, some analysts think, might set a tone for next Saturday’s election.
Also, many analysts have observed that the perceived grouse of a PDP stalwart in the state, Senator Gbemisola Saraki, who incidentally is a sister to the leader of the APC in the state, former Governor Bukola Saraki who won in last week’s senatorial election, against the leadership of her party would affect PDP’s chances in the election. Senator Gbemi Saraki is believed to have taken after her father, the late Dr Olusola Saraki, as a great political mobiliser.
Analysts say the fortune of the PDP candidate, Ajibola, might particularly be on the line, going by a perceived political romance between Gbemi Saraki and the APC, which has broom as its symbol. She was reported to have instructed her supporters, on the eve of March 28 presidential election, to observe environmental sanitation in their localities by sweeping (with brooms, of course) their surroundings clean. Feelers in the political circle also point to her imminent defection to the APC.
Another PDP stalwart, Hajia Bilikisu Gambari, who was an aspirant in Kwara Central Senatorial District, has reportedly defected to the APC, just as the women leader of the opposition party did this week.
After the presidential election, Dr Saraki said a formal announcement would soon be made on the movement of her sister, Gbemi, and her supporters to the APC. “But definitely, things are happening,” he said.
The politician attributed the performance of the APC in Isin, Oke Ero and Ekiti local government areas, which were won by the PDP in the presidential election, to a sentiment expressed by the people of the area.
The LP governorship candidate, Dr Omotoso, was a member of the PDP in the state and a contestant for the House of Representatives ticket in the party’s primaries. He lost the race by a single vote. The aftermath of the primaries was his exit from the party. Despite being touted as acting as spoiler for the chances of PDP governorship candidate in next week’s election, Omotoso has continued to gain more popularity, but the incumbent governor remains the candidate to beat for obvious political reasons.
The governor has asked for a chance to complete his “good” works, saying that the slogan of “Legacy Continues,” upon which he had anchored his administration, had enabled him to discourage abandonment of projects which, he said, was common with many states of the federation.
Speaking recently during the distribution of taxis and buses to transporters in the state, Governor Ahmed said that his administration had a lot in store for the people if elected a second time.
According to him, governance is serious business and should be handled only by those with the pedigree, experience and capacity to deliver its benefits to the people.
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