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Aftermath of defection, APC seeks magic to down Saraki

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[File] Nigeria’s minister of Information Lai Mohammed AFP PHOTO / PIUS UTOMI EKPEI

Political activities in Kwara State have been sedate in the last one week, far removed from the frenzy of preceding weeks. Reason is that the man, around whom all ‘signals’ revolve, Dr. Bukola Saraki, is enmeshed in more politicking at the national level.

Besides, Governor Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed, who is on the last lap of his second term, is believed to be unconcerned about most of the political push and pull in the 51 years old state, which rolled back to the guidance of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Checks by The Guardian showed that the governor, who was the first to announce his defection from the All Progressives Congress (APC), before Saraki, is said to be nursing the ambition to represent his constituency (Kwara South) in the Senate next year.

But, it was also gathered that Ahmed might find getting the ticket difficult because the incumbent, Senator Rafiu Adebayo, is believed to have “satisfied our leader (Saraki) so much with his style of legislation that Saraki would find it difficult to replace him with anybody.”

Already, the ecstasy of the gale of defections in the state is assuming dramatic forms by the day. Saraki now conjures the aura of a mercurial politician. The Senate President is said to have promised most political office holders in the state, “automatic ticket for re election “ in order to secure about 99 per cent support for the defection saga.

23 out of the 24 House of Assembly members, the three Senators (Saraki, Adebayo and Alhaji Shaaba Lafiagi, Kwara North), all the six members of the House of Representatives and the entire16 council chairmen in the state all have joined the defection bandwagon.

Saraki could not have expected anything short of the display of absolute loyalty to his course, even as it was said that he solely bankrolled all the electioneering expenses incurred by the office holders.

Although sources allege a quid pro quo arrangement, the developments could not be divorced from the fact that over 85 per cent of the original PDP members in the state had to decamp almost immediately to the APC after Saraki announced his defection.

Former PDP State Publicity Secretary, Chief Rex Kola Olawoye, said: “It would have been an unfair deal for us to have stayed back in PDP after hearing of Saraki’s defection. What could have been our fate when he had already promised all those holding elective positions automatic tickets?

“That is our main grouse with him. His style is at variance with African culture of giving respect to the landlord of the house. At the APC, even though we are more in number we had settled for 50/50 share of portfolios. This is pure democracy at work. The earlier we inculcate this virtue in us the better for democracy and the future of our children.”

However, Sulyman Tunji Buhari, who was before defection the spokesman of the APC in the state, described Olawoye’s claims as false, saying, “Our leader is a team player and had at no time contemplated complete take over of the PDP as alleged. He believes in democratic norms and would do everything within the ambit of relevant laws to guard it jealously.

“The truth is that Olawoye and his group had already decided on what they would do even before Saraki joined the PDP. So, it would be unfair to stigmatize our leader as lacking in democratic norms.”

Buhari added that he still remains the APC spokesman in the state, claiming that the suit filed by the dissolved exco under the chairmanship of Ishola Balogun Fulani is still pending before an Ilorin High Court.”

Meanwhile, the former PDP state chairman, who was the first person to publicly defect to the APC upon noticing the arrival of the political train of the Senate President, Chief Akogun Iyiola Oyedepo, has been spitting political fire since he jumped ship.

Oyedepo insists, “Darkness and light can not co-habit. A government that is unable to give us good governance for about 16 years represents darkness. While I have been talking about party, I have laid emphasis with the personalities in government.  I have never attacked (President Muhammad) Buhari; I have always been categorical about Kwara.

“I believe that even if we have bad governance in Nigeria, our own is more or less double jeopardy. We are under oppression in Kwara State. We have to clear Kwara before we can face Nigeria. We are complaining about Kwara. The only issue is Bukola Saraki. We do not pretend about that.

He is an issue, because this is one person that is sure to anoint councilors, lawmakers, both state and National Assembly. Besides, Saraki is fond of shifting. He shifted from ANPP in 2003 to PDP. In 2013, he shifted from PDP to APC; today he has shifted from APC to PDP.”

Oyedepo lamented that only four of his executives are left behind, including the woman leader, the deputy chairman, treasurer and the youth leader, stressing that virtually all the council chairmen of our party are intact with them in APC.

“When Bukola Saraki decided to move from APC to PDP, we believed that he has already infiltrated the party. He has more or less provided some sort of stench that may make the party become an unwarranted instrument that can change anything in Kwara State. And necessarily because our politics is different from his, we had to leave their party,” he stated.

He complained further: “PDP said anybody coming to PDP with governor will have 60 per cent and those that have been piloting the affairs of the party for a long time will only have 40 per cent. Another obnoxious policy is that whoever decamps from APC to PDP will be given automatic ticket.

“The governor decamped, even if he can no longer run any term, three senators decamped, six members of the House of Representatives decamped, almost 24 members of the House of Assembly decamped, 16 council chairman decamped, if those people are to be given automatic tickets, what therefore remains for those of us who had been piloting the affairs of that party for a long time. So we had to leave.

“But, not because of that alone, even if we were given all those slots and Senator Saraki would still come, we will have a moral burden to be with him, because for a long time, we had been telling the whole world that he has not been able to govern well, infrastructure in Kwara State has collapsed, hospitals are not there, no medication and no personnel, educational institution is not a thing we can be proud of, poverty is everywhere and these are the things that we have been telling the general public about the same misgovernance.

“Now if we have to be in the same party with Saraki, we will have a moral burden. That explains why we believe that even if we were given 100 per cent of the slots, we still do not want him behind us because it is not going to be something we can explain to the people.

“We have also held series of meetings with the national chairman and some top leaders of APC.  We have even invited Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who is the national leader. We have been meeting with the party leadership to make sure that we integrate fully into the party. New congresses would soon be held and we hope to enjoy full participation.  Luckily, when we came in, we could not meet any substantive executive, because they were headed by Balogun-Fulani, which was dissolved, we only met a caretaker committee headed by Bashir Bolarinwa.

“Registration would be done probably within one week, after that primaries will be held and leaders will emerge and everything we have , we are not losing anything, it makes the platform to be more credible because incidentally, when Saraki and the governor were leaving, many people decided not to go with them. Not less than 85 per cent of our people followed me to APC. If you had 85 per cent with the people in APC before, the party is richer now.”

One of Saraki’s aides, Alhaji Suleiman Yusuf, described Oyedepo as a Nollywood actor that is in search of relevance and survival after the reality had dawned on him that the game was up “and his tiny circle of disgruntled politicians.”

Suleiman, who bemoaned the political shenanigans in the state added: “Let no one deceive you, Kwara State belongs to God and He has handed it over to our leader (Saraki). The people love him to their bone marrows, because of his benevolent acts and his achievements in political circle. We don’t conduct elections on pages of newspapers. We are solidly on ground.

“We don’t settle scores on pages of newspapers. We are poised for the next round of elections and just wait and see who is truly in control of the state. Saraki is not a politician on exile unlike many of these noisemakers, who can’t even win an election in their wards.

“The structure is solid and the people believe in it. Let the noisemakers tell us their own structures. Oyedepo rose to stardom through Saraki institution of politics.  It will be better if they retrace their steps and come back home so that we can jointly build our common heritage, Kwara State.”


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