Pushed by renewed political awareness of the people and quest for the state's political 'liberation' and development, aspirants to the governorship seat in Kwara are jostling to weigh their popularity, acceptance and support for next year's election.
Some of them, according to observers, are merely out try their chances against all odds.
Recent political developments in the state had led to high expectations from members of the public on the likely outcome of the polls.
Among these is also the Kwara politics factor owing to numerous factors such as alignments and realignments of political forces in the nationís political centre-stage with gladiators from Kwara State at the front burner.
The new INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission in the state, Mallam Garba Attahiru Madami, has in the meantime expressed readiness to conduct peaceful, transparent and acceptable elections.
With the influx of aspirants on the platform of the APC and PDP, indications are that there are real contenders while many others are mere pretenders and popularity seekers.
Historically, the advent of the fourth republic in 1999 had seen the emergence of a late former governor, Muhammed Lawal of the defunct All Peoples Party, (APP) from Kwara Central 1999 to 2003, former governor Bukola Saraki (PDP 2003-2011) also from Kwara Central, while the current Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed is from Kwara South.
Lukman Olayiwola Mustapha, a son of the Wali of Ilorin, Alhaji Shehu Usman Mustapha, is a chartered accountant and seasoned banker with vast experience. He graduated from Usmanu DanFodio University, Sokoto and later attended several courses both home and abroad, including Harvard Stamford & Lagos Business School. He has held different positions in the banking sector and became the General Manager & Head, Public Sector of FinBank, now First City Monument Bank (FCMB).
He is currently the Regional Manager Abuja & Northern Nigeria of FCMB and chairman, Board of Trustees of Sobi FM 101.9, Ilorin. Until his defection to the APC, Lukman Mustapha had been a financial member of the PDP. Some Kwarans alleged he was working for Dr. Bukola Saraki as a destabilizing agent within the APC folks, although, he debunked the allegations recently. He is an aspirant from Ilorin West in the Kwara Central Senatorial District.
Comrade Yahaya Seriki Gambari is an idigene of Ilorin East who studied Public Administration at the University of Jos. He is a tycoon in the mining sector as well as the CEO/MD of Kursk Investment Limited.
Yahaya Seriki had been perceived over time to be a diehard loyalist of Bukola Saraki before and even after the latter decamped to the PDP. Feelers revealed that he had been told to remain in the race on the platform of the APC for obvious reasons, having contested for the House of Representatives seat in 2011 for Ilorin South/East Federal Constituency but was unlucky.
Shuaibu Oba AbdulRaheem, a professor of English, former vice chancellor of the University of Ilorin and current Talba of Ilorin, is an indigene of Ilorin West in the Kwara Central Senatorial District. He studied in Nigeria and the United Kingdom to become a renowned academician.
He is a philanthropist with remarkable successes such as facilitation of job for youths during his tenure as the Chairman of Federal Character Commission. He later relinquished his position as the Chairman FCC to pursue his governorship ambition.
At the heat of the 2011 general elections, he dropped his governorship ambition to support Alhaji Abdultfah Ahmed and later became the director-general of his campaign organization on the platform of the PDP. He also lost to Senator Simeon Ajibola during the 2014 primaries of the PDP. His tenure as vice chancellor of the University of Ilorin saw the university overcome the scourge of cultism, attain unprecedented physical and infrastructural developments and perhaps most importantly become one of the most stable in the Nigerian university system. Upon completion of his tenure, Prof. Oba was later to serve as chairman of the Governing Council of the state polytechnic for two years and carried out massive reorganization of the institution. Thereafter, he was again called to service as pro-chancellor and chairman of the Interim Governing Council of the newly established Kwara State University. He recently defected from the PDP to APC.
Hon. Moshood Mustapha is a former lawmaker representing Ilorin/Asa in the House of Representatives and a close ally of Bukola Saraki. He is an indigene of Ilorin, Kwara Central Senatorial District.
He served under Saraki as Special Adviser on inter-parliamentary matters though no formal resignation of his appointment was made before embarking on his current political ambition. However MM as he is popularly called, is perceived by Kwarans to be out to do the biddings of his political benefactor. He recently decamped to the APC from the PDP. Coincidentally, the Mustapha family has also been seen by all as irrational for backing two brothers; Lukman Mustpha and Moshood Mustapha, for the Kwara guber race.
Hakeem Oladimeji Lawal is the son of late former governor Mohammed Lawal who reigned from 1999 to 2003 on the platform of All Peoples Party, (APP). He was a strong loyalist of Dr. Olusola Saraki, the Late Waziri of Ilorin, until they parted ways for political reasons and lost his second term bid to Dr. Bukola Saraki of the then PDP in 2003.
An indigene of Ilorin East, Kwara Central Senatorial District, Hakeem Lawal attended the prestigious Barewa College, Zaria and from there moved to the International School, Ibadan. He attended Royal Russell School UK. He then proceeded to the University of Portsmouth. Subsequently he moved to University of Surrey where he obtained his postgraduate degree.
Lawal is a qualified chartered accountant who has worked with many blue chip companies in the UK such as Amlin PLC and PowerGen. He is a stakeholder in a finance company and runs a real estate development company.
Ali Babatunde Ahmad, the current Speaker of the Kwara State House of Assembly, is the lawmaker representing Ilorin South constituency in the state House of Assembly. He holds an LLB (Hons) degree from Bayero University, Kano and later rose to become a Doctor of Juridical Science (SJD) at the George Washington University Law School, Washington DC, in 2000. He was a law lecturer at Faculty of Law, Bayero University, Kano and University of Ilorin, where he rose to become Associate Professor and Acting Dean of Law respectively.
Ahmad joined active politics in 2005 when he was appointed into various positions by the then governor of Kwara State and current senate president. He rose to become the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice of Kwara State.
He contested and won the Ilorin East/Ilorin South Federal Constituency seat of the House of Representatives in 2011. He is one of the eyes of the senate president in the current administration.
Shuaibu Yaman Abdullahi, an indigene of Shonga, Edu Local Government Area in Kwara North Senatorial District. He contested the governorship seat in 2003 and later the Kwara North Senatorial seat on the platform of the ACPN in 2011.
He attended Native Authority Primary School, Shonga, Government Secondary School ( GSS) Omu-Aran and the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria (ABU) where he obtained a B.Sc in Business Administration. Yaman, a strong financier of the APC, is currently the Executive Director, Agromatrix Nigeria Limited, having been a member of the Minerals and Metals National Technical working group for Vision 20:2020 in 2009 and mandated to chart a course for the minerals and mines sector.
He was a member of the Nigerian Railways Board from 2004 to 2007 and chairman, Railways Reform Implementation Committee (2006 to 2007), Nigerian Railways Board (2008 to 2011), member, National Sugar Development Council, member, Technical Committee on Sugar Development (1993-1994), Implementation Committee on Sugar Policy for Nigeria (1991-1992), Director in the defunct Trade Bank Plc (1992-1999) and later resigned his appointment in August 1999.
Hon. Ahman Pategi Aliyu's governorship ambition may not see the light of the day due to the fact that he recently pronounced and reaffirmed his loyalty to Dr. Bukola Saraki of the PDP as against the interest of the people of Kwara North for the APC, and especially for the re-election bid of President Muhammadu Buhari. This was felt in the statement of Etsu Patigi, Alhaji Ibrahim Chatta Umar, who publicly endorsed Buhari for second term.
Bolaji Abdullahi, a former Minister of Sports and Youths Development, is from Ilorin West, Kwara Central Senatorial District. He was a Special Adviser to Bukola Saraki and later Commissioner for Education. Abdullahi graduated has a degree in Mass Communication from the University of Lagos. In 2001, he enrolled at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex on a Chevening scholarship.
In December 2016, Abdullahi was announced as the National Publicity Secretary of the APC. On August 1, 2018, Abdullahi resigned as the APC spokesman and decamped to the PDP after serious pressure from his deputy, Yekini Nebena.
Other aspirants from Kwara Central include; Modibbo Ishaq Kawu (Ilorin South), Mohammed Mustapha Akanbi (Ilorin East), Abdulazeez Oniyangi (Ilorin South). With the numbers of aspirants from Kwara Central, the general public opinion is that party leadership should respect the zoning principle and allow the next governor to emerge from Kwara North in order to ensure equity, fairness and justice to all.