Kwara 2019: Intrigues over APC's search for Abdulrasaq's running mate
The governorship primary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kwara State for the next year’s general elections is now settled with the emergence of Alhaji Abdulraham Abdulrasaq as the gubernatorial candidate of the party. Also, both the party and the governorship candidate, according to reliable sources, have agreed to a deal that will see Ifelodun Local Government Area in the South Senatorial District of the state producing the deputy governorship candidate.
The struggle within the APC in Kwara is now shifted to who would be selected as deputy governorship candidate as various stakeholders within and outside the party urge its leadership and guber candidate to put certain requirements into consideration as they narrow down on the final choice, writes Assistant Editor, Dare Odufowokan.
THE All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kwara State is still working hard at putting its house in order and ensuring that all stakeholders within the party are appeased ahead of the 2019 general election. Currently, the leadership of the party and its governorship, following a reported agreement to cede the deputy governorship ticket to the Igbomina ethnic group in the southern part of the state, is now searching for a consensus candidate that will further unite the party.
Following the resolution of the various crises generated by the primary elections of the APC, held to decide the various candidates of the party across the state, leaders and indigenes of Igbomina communities in the southern senatorial district of Kwara State had protested loudly over what they described as the seeming political exclusion of Ifelodun Local Government Area, a major part of the ethnic group by the APC.
The people of Ifelodun L.G.A had specifically appealed to the leaderships of the party, at both state and the national level, as well as the gubernatorial candidate of the party in the state, Alhaji Abdulraham Abdulrasaq, to consider one of them as the party’s deputy governorship candidate in the 2019 governorship election if it is the desire of the party to perform well in the area ruing the next governorship election.
"In Kwara South Senatorial District, the senatorial candidate and Federal House of Representatives candidates are from Offa and Oyun Local Government areas respectively. Offa and Oyun local government areas are the Ibolo-speaking bloc while Ifelodun, the third leg of the tripod in that federal constituency, is yet to get anything. Ifelodun local government area is the largest with a voting strength second to none in the senatorial district.
"It happens to be a different ethnic group from the duo mentioned above. Other Igbomina-speaking LGAs in the district are Irepodun and Isin. The tripod is complete in this senatorial district with Ekiti and Oke-Ero local government areas making the Ibolo bloc. However, while Ibolo and Ekiti blocs appeared to have been settled by the APC in the current calculus, the Igbomina stock is anxiously awaiting what it will take home.
"It is also important for APC to consider the fact that Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed, the sitting governor of Kwara State and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) senatorial candidate in the forthcoming election, is from Ifelodun. The party must court the people with a stake in the current arrangement. The best way to block the area for APC is to give them the running mate to the gubernatorial candidate," Alhaji Ahmed Salau, a party leader in the district, had argued, while speaking to The Nation on the matter.
Findings by The Nation revealed that the agitation of the people of Ifelodun paid off as the party, as well as the governorship candidate, after series of meetings and consultations agreed to pick the deputy governorship candidate of the APC from the council area. Our correspondent gathered that the decision was taken largely to give the people a sense of belonging in the party and resolve what has become a major grievance within the party.
"Ifelodun is not a council area any serious political party will toy with in Kwara State. It has one of the highest voting population in the state. Also, the Igbominas are the most politically savvy people we have in the state. They know what they want and they cannot be cajoled to vote anyhow. They always have reasons for supporting whichever party they follow. It is important we carry them along. The exclusion they complained about was not intentional and we have decided to correct it,” a state official of the party said.
With the issue of which zone of the Kwara South Senatorial District should get the slot settled, stakeholders within and outside the party have further narrowed down the search for the APC deputy governorship candidate. All through the week, the agitation for a young Christian politician from Ifelodun L.G.A to be chosen as the deputy to the party's 65 year-old guber hopeful, was in full swing.
The proponents of what has now become popular as the 'youthful Christian’ idea, argue that for religious balance, the deputy governorship candidate of the state should be a Christian since the governorship candidate is a Muslim. They also posited that a young deputy guber candidate will strengthen the APC team in confronting the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)'s claim that it is fielding a youthful team.
This is just as foundation members of the party also raised concern over the need for the APC in Kwara State to ensure that the deputy governorship ticket is given to a foundation member of the party so as to further heal the wounds inflicted on the group by the outcome of the primary elections that saw new members of the party picking majority of the 2019 election tickets.
The foundation members of APC in Kwara State had once vowed to shut down the party's secretariat until "justice is done” following the primary elections across the state. Spokesman of the group, Comrade Isiaka Warah, who was also an aspirant during the primaries for Ilorin West/Asa Federal Constituency, had lamented that, "what we are seeing in the party today is a modified consensus mode of primary, since results of the last primaries exercise have been discarded by the National Working Committee (NWC).
"In the light of the foregoing, we demand the following positions as foundation APC members in the state: governorship, two senatorial slots, three House of Reps slots, 12 House of Assembly slots and agreeable terms on the formation of the next government. Those are what we consider time tested solutions to problems bedeviling the party at this material time. Anything short of this will not only be counter- productive but inimical to our common interest ahead of 2019 elections."
With the governorship ticket now in the firm grip of Abdulrasaq, who is not a member of the foundation group, old members of the party are now urging the leadership of the party to seek out a foundation member of the party from Ifelodun L.G.A and make him the deputy governorship candidate of the party, to “pacify loyal members of the APC who opened the doors of the party for those now picking the tickets to come in."
Beyond the foundation members, several other interest groups are also calling on the party to be thorough in its considerations before deciding on who will get the deputy governorship ticket of the APC. The youths' leader of the party in Kwara State, Hon. Oyinloye Oyelere, said the best way to secure the votes of the teeming youths in the state is to choose one of them as the running mate to the party's candidate.
Oyinloye made the remark while speaking with newsmen shortly after the APC stakeholders forum summit held in Ilorin yesterday. He said the youths have the strength and energy to run around and galvanise support for the party. He added that, mentoring the youths can only be possible when they are brought close to leadership at various levels of responsibility thereby preparing them for the future.
The youths'leader, who was once the Chairman of Isin Local Government Area of the state, posited that a young man will be loyal, teachable and committed to the principle of the government without causing unnecessary stir. He therefore advised the party to pick one of them as the running mate to Alhaji Abdulraham Abdulrasaq as the party prepares for 2019 elections.
Another renowned youth leader in Ifelodun Local Government Area, Olaitan Saliu, said, "if we are given free hands to choose, we know those that have been with us during the thick and thin. Any attempt to bring a diaspora member acting as foundation member is a total disservice to our struggles of many years. We know ourselves; allow us to give the party a grassroots politician and community leader.
"We appreciate those in the PDP tendency that joined us recently who deemed it necessary to cede deputy governorship position to the foundation group having secured three senators, four federal House of Representatives and about twenty house of assembly slots out of twenty four". According to Olaitan, doing that will make the work of wining the area for the APC in 2019 much easier.
In a related submission, Secretary of Christian Youths in Politics, Steve Adeola, said the group is capable of mobilising Christian youths in the nooks and crannies of the state, leveraging on the tentacles of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in the state. While adding his voice to the quest of the people of Ifelodun for the deputy governorship slot, Adeola said APC must also consider a Christian for the position for equity and fairness.
Adeola said beyond choosing a politician from Ifelodun who is a Christian, the APC should also consider putting a young man on the ballot alongside Abdulrasaq. In his opinion, there is need to encourage the youths who are participating in politics across the state. "If we can’t have the governorship ticket yet, give us the deputy governorship ticket. This will give us hope that one day, we will produce one of us as the governor," he begged.
Speaking on how Abdulrazaq can activate unprecedented development in Kwara if elected as the governor in 2019, Dr. Dele Adeniyi, respected research expert, who is also an indigene of Oro-Ago in Kwara South, said the APC governorship candidate should consider making good use of young party chieftains with track records of community service to assist him.
"Let me start by congratulating the APC flagbearer, Alhaji Abdulraham Abdulrasaq for his success at the just concluded party primaries. It will be my pleasure to refresh the candidate of the progressive party of a work put together by Joint Active Citizens of Kwara (JACK) at a retreat held in Offa on 26th June 2016 under the chairmanship of Justice Banji Orilonise (Rtd).
JACK, a brainchild of the quintessential grassroots, social mobilizer and community development enthusiast, Kayode Oyin-Zubair, had done a number of interventions necessary for the development of Kwara State. The retreat held in Offa at the instance of our initiator, Kayode Oyin-Zubair, puts the task of its success on my laps as the chairman of the organising committee.
We looked into the following areas of interest; sustenance of livelihood for the people of Kwara State, attainment of food security status in Kwara State, Kwara State educational development status and the way forward and infrastructural development in Kwara State. Those are the critical areas of our development that took participants eight hours to dissect and eventually issued a communique. I have no doubt in my mind that, the communique will be useful in developing a working tool for the incoming government.
The candidate himself is a member of our platform JACK; though recently added to us. He has an asset that will assist him in our man, Kayode Oyin-Zubair, who is also the initiator of another community- based outfit known as Goal-Getters Initiative. Goal-Getters has set an unprecedented record in the area of water intervention in this state. The multi -prong approach he adopted in his water intervention project is commendable.
The project is used to mobilize indigenes of the state home and diaspora for development through fund raising. It repaired hand pump boreholes in 12 local government areas and sunk new ones. It was also used to train young people thereby reducing the dearth of man power in repair of hand pump boreholes. However, the advantages are inexhaustible because people are no longer battling with water borne diseases. Rural dwellers can save money hitherto used for medication on feeding and other rewarding ventures," the scholar said.