The colour of Kwara 2015 politics
THE shape of politics in Kwara State come 2015 may be a radical departure from the sickening docility that had characterised the political scene of the 46-year-old state in the past.
The major reason for the change could not be divorced from the departure from the political scene of the maverick politician, Dr. Olusola Saraki, who passed some 15 months ago.
'Oloye', as his supporters fondly called him, had initiated his son, Dr. Bukola Saraki, senator representing Kwara Central, into politics.
However, some political analysts in the state believe that the forthcoming general elections would be the acid test for the former governor of the state to show the world how much of political lessons he had learned under his late father.
Already, scheming and political calculations have been going on just as alignment and re-alignment of forces have remained the order of the day by the concerned politicians in the state.
What remains a clue though is the situation the incumbent Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed may find himself in the entire political permutations already being touted as the mother of all elections in the state.
Since his assumption of office some two years ago, Ahmed has been taciturn although many observers believe he has prudently managed the scarce resources of the state described as being number 33 among the 36 states of the federation in the order of monthly resource allocations by the Federal Government.
As an aide of the governor asked The Guardian in Ilorin: "You want the governor to be talking? Why should he be talking when our political leader (Bukola Saraki) is there? He (the governor) is facing the work of governance and that does not require noisemaking in whatever form.
"Saraki is our number one political leader in Kwara. Whatever he says is the best for us. We believe so much in his leadership ability and his disposition to accommodating reasonable ideas and suggestions from loyal party members (Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
"Besides, the governor once confided in me during one of his trips to Saudi Arabia for the Lesser Hajj operations that he would be eternally grateful to Saraki for making him the governor. He said he never knew he could ever rise to that post in his entire political career."
Ahmed's seeming "submission" to the will of Saraki in all fronts has no doubt engendered serene political atmosphere in the state. Political posts are apportioned peacefully just as salaries of civil servants are promptly paid before the end of the month.
But the state's chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Alhaji Farouk Akanbi, said the workers expected more attention from the governor in the areas of payment of "some arrears" to some serving and retired civil servants in the state.
On provisions of social amenities, Ahmed's administration has concentrated more on road repairs and construction and provision of rural electricity and streets lightening.
But describing the governor's performance in the areas of social infrastructure as below average, immediate past chairman of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in the state, Mr. Kayode Olawepo said, "we are yet to feel any impart of Ahmed's administration in the area of provisions of amenities in the state."
"Do we have good road network across the state? No. Do we have pipe borne water in major areas of Ilorin the state capital? No," he said.
In his reaction, the state's secretary of the ruling PDP, Prince Yemi Afolayan, urged members of the opposition to "shine their eyes," and see the glaring difference in the areas of social infrastructure between some ACN-controlled states and Kwara.
"We know that opposition's role is pivotal to the survival of any virile democracy but my grouse with those playing the role here in Kwara is their inability to play the role constructively," Afolayan said.
"They don't usually acknowledge the positive contributions of the ruling government to the growth of the state. Even where criticism is required, it is done destructively rather than being constructive in attitude."
He asked: "Which of the governments in the whole of the ACN-controlled states has given pipe borne water to every homes in such states?
"Besides, who doesn't know that road construction and repairs are done in phases, considering the enormity of the capital required?
"Again, I think it is high time we would urge them to shine their eyes and see the good works of this administration."
Despite the accolades poured on Governor Ahmed by Afolayan, wouldn't it be just and appropriate to ask at this juncture if Ahmed would get a second term ticket in 2015?
Will he follow in the steps of Saraki who is the first in the political history of the state to serve two terms of office?
An extant legislation by the State House of Assembly allows any governor, who had served the state in two-term capacity, to enjoy all full benefits of the office until death. But the salient question is whether or not Ahmed will become one of the beneficiaries of the kind gesture.
Again, Afolayan would not want the issue of the second-term ticket discussed at present, as he described it "a non-issue, as the PDP machinery, under the leadership of our amiable leader and a great visionary, Dr. Bukola Saraki, knows what is best for us and he will surely do what is best at the right time."
"The governor is doing well and we don't want any distraction at all. 2015 is still very far; so, we should allow him to be focused," he said.
In the same vein, the Director of Publicity of the PDP in the state, Alhaji Mas'ud Adebimpe urged, "you media people to shun the issue for now."
"As you can see, we are enjoying peace here in Kwara and I know the peace is a real one," he said. "But don't forget that we have a leader who will do the right thing at the right time."
Nonetheless, sources told The Guardian in Ilorin that the governorship slot might have been shifted to Kwara North senatorial district. Ahmed is from Kwara South.
A governor emerged from Kwara North during the time of Alhaji Sha'ba Lafiagi some 23 years ago. Lafiagi at present represents Kwara North in the Senate.
If the move is real, two persons may, however, slug it out to determine the next governorship candidate of the PDP in Kwara. These are the former senator from the zone, Ahmed Mohammed and a serving member of the House of Representatives, Zakari Mohammed, representing Baruteen/Kaiama Federal Constituency.
Even as the permutations continue in the PDP, members of the opposition in the state are covertly putting their house in order, resolving their crises and preparing grounds for the eventual emergence of the proposed All Progressives Congress (APC).
The leading party among the parties in the merging plan in the state, the ACN, has two outstanding personalities, who may wish to contest for the post of the number one citizen of the state in the year under review.
These are former governorship candidate of the ACN, Mr. Dele Belgore and the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the Oro, Irepodun local council-born politician.
Sources said the party might just settle for Belgore, a son of the prominent Islamic guru in Ilorin, as its consensus candidate ahead of the polls.
The factors being considered include the fact that the people of Ilorin and other settlements forming the Kwara Central senatorial district may prefer one of their own for the plum position.
Besides, one of the sources alleged that the people of Kwara South, too, might cast their votes in support of Belgore, tacitly "protesting the shifting of power from them, if Ahmed does not eventually get a second term ticket."
But contacted during a recent 'Tasfir' programme at Oro, Mohammed debunked claim on the alleged rift between himself and Belgore, who was also at the event bankrolled by Mohammed.
One politician being touted to stage a come back to the scene is Agbamu, Irepodun-born business tycoon, Gbenga Olawepo.
Olawepo, who had announced his withdrawal from politicking, is believed to be receiving "pressure from his people to rescind his decision" by contesting the governorship post in 2015.
Whichever way the pendulum eventually swings, the fact would remain that Kwara politics has become a real contest rather than the compromise of the past.
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