2015: Will Ahmed survive Kwara political storm?

Date: 2013-12-08

The eventual fusion of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kwara State with the All Progressives Congress (APC) at the instance of its leader, Senator Bukola Saraki, over a week ago has since become a watershed in the political annals of the North Central State. It is peculiar because Kwara had never been known to go the progressive way, no matter how great the pressure or the agitation is. It is more interesting that the son of the conservative and family (Saraki) that had always disallowed the progressives in the state is historically the one now leading the people into it.

However, a lot had been agitating the minds of people in the state and skepticisms had since pervaded the air. This is in the camps of the new entrants (Saraki- Baraje’s PDP) and their new political hosts, the APC. While a fraction of those in the PDP, including those who served in the cabinet of Saraki’s government as well as the incumbent Abdulfatah Ahmed had openly expressed their dissent stance on the matter, a section of those in the APC too are not quite favourably disposed to the fusion. On the APC side are the conventional progressives who are known to be sworn opponents of anything Saraki and even the latter day APC members led by Barrister Mohammed Dele Belgore, SAN. This category of people will, the way it is, prefer to join the PDP, now abandoned by Bukola Saraki and his men, rather than being in the same boat with him.

Also, there are the original owners of the PDP that the Sarakis are now abandoning. They are popularly known as the old PDP who were allegedly dispossessed of their party over 10 years ago and had since developed low voices, very much unheard again. To them, the time has come to repossess their possessions. They are strongly said to be re-grouping but are only speaking from far away in Abuja. They are yet to show up in the state physically. Among them are the likes of Deacon John Dara; the man, who in a hard way fought the Sarakis when the latter was coming like a roaring lion to take over their PDP then. Dara, like the Biblical David, though might have fought and killed lions and bears, the transgressing Goliath of the time, was too big for him to bear.

In this category were also Alhaji Abdulrasheed Salman (Alada); Alhaji Toyin Folorunsho Ayinla; Barrister Kunle Sulieman; Dr. Alimi Abdulrasak; Alhaji L.A.K Jimoh; Alhaji Bolaji Raji; Alhaji Yekeen Alabi; Prince Sunday Fagbemi and the latter ones like Professor Shuaib Oba Abdulraheem; Chief Makanjuola Ajadi and Alhaji Bio Ibrahim who of late had been loudest in crying foul on the emerging Bukola Saraki as the new political leader of Kwara State. He was an insider in the camp of the Sarakis which attracts some attention to his voice.

As the events unfold in days, weeks and months to come, the group of Senator Bukola Saraki and Alhaji Kawu Baraje otherwise known as ‘nPDP’ will have these forces to contend with in the political calculations in Kwara State.

However, all is not well either in the APC that these entrants are joining. First, the nPDP are intimidating in number and their presence by announcement alone, overwhelms the APC on ground. Shortly before now, the rested Congress of Progressive Change (CPC), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) had merged to become APC in the state and they became still, different factions in the new party. In the old ACN, the factors of Dele Belgore and Lai Mohammed had been a contending issue which breaks the party and they never pretended about it when they became APC. While Belgore commands good footing at home, Mohammed who is the national publicity secretary of both the now APC and the then ACN is only large in size abroad. The fight for power and supremacy was and still the order of the day between them and their followers. The only saving grace for now is the belief in strong quarters that Mohammed had to play key roles in bringing the nPDP members and Saraki into the APC to enjoy an edge over Belgore. The implication therefore is that APC followers of Mr. Belgore may be comfortable with the coming of PDP and may be thinking of an alternative arrangement or they stay back and become the reactionaries in the house.

Last Sunday, Belgore came home to the warm embrace of his teeming supporters strangely chanting PDP slogans as a way of suggesting decamping into the PDP, to join forces with the ‘old PDP’. However, while speaking with newsmen later, the Senior Advocate, who was the 2011 governorship candidate of the then CAN, said leaving the APC might be the immediate option for him and his followers.  lamented that though the national leaders of APC did not carry members in the state along in the process that led to the fusion of nPDP and APC, leaving the party now would be leaving the sweats of the traditional progressives in Kwara State forthe new entrants to inherit. He posited that since negotiations were still ongoing, they would stay back to see the outcome of the process.  the splinter old members of the CPC and the ANPP, the situation on their side looks like anything goes because they stand to benefit either side since they were grossly in the minority originally.

Meanwhile, Senator Saraki who hurriedly had to do a damage control last week after his former chairman of the nPDP, Alhaji Ishola Nalogun-Fulani, stirred the hornet’s nest when at a press conference he declared that they were coming to inherit an APC that had no structure calling on the old members who so desired to come on board.

Saraki, in a statement, had rather said his coming into APC was to ensure “an inclusive” arrangement that would provide emancipation policies in the overall interests of the people. He called on everyone to remain calm and hope for the best, in the ensuing political arrangement in the state.

The race to 2015;

A common apprehension for now is the race towards 2015 in Kwara State particularly, with the current development. A school of thought had envisaged that it may be a platform to cause some ripples between the incumbent Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed, and his godfather; Saraki. That the latter might not be disposed to giving him the second term ticket anymore. Though the development had rubbished an earlier speculation that the workings in the mind of Bukola was to make the governor remain in the PDP to run with the ticket of the party for the second term, then make another anointed and beloved son; Hon. Zakari Mohammed; the chairman, House of Representatives’ Committee on Media, lead a group to join the APC and run for governorship, using the part ticket as well. The feeling, if it is true, has by now changed. It is believed instead, that Ahmed would get the ticket to please the Kwara Southern District where he comes from who had irrespective of the party ticket had been clamouring for a second term for their own, like Saraki of the Kwara Central did. This is expected to please both the old and new members of the APC whose general interest is said to be in this direction.

The governor, according to findings, had been telling his close associates that the issue of second term was first in the hands of God and his godfather; Bukola. He was quoted to have said were it not for the wish of God and the insistence of Bukola Saraki, he would have not been governor in the first place. His usual philosophy, according to the source, has always been “it is only God that crowns kings”.

However, it was learnt that the old PDP members who are openly declaring their loyalties to President Goodluck Jonathan may not take the matter lightly. They were said to be warming up to field someone among themselves that would be sellable at the poll, come 2015. Those of them being speculated for the race are Professor Oba Abdulrahim; Alhaji Bio Ibrahim; Chief Makanjuola Ajadi who is from the same local government area with the governor. The unfolding events in a few months to the 2015 elections will however determine where the pendulum would swing.


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