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After O to ge, crisis engulfs Kwara State APC

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Only Gov AbdulRazak Can Mend Rift, Says Olawoye
Trouble tolls for Kwara State chapter of All Progressives Congress (APC). The governing party is faced with challenges of how to manage it’s victory in the 2019 General Elections polls. Almost two years after that electoral triumph garnered through the powerful O to ge campaign, the party is already enmeshed in crisis.

As the intra party wrangling takes its toll on the party’s unity, there are apprehensions that unless the matter is resolved expeditiously, it could fast track the return of the famed political dynasty of former Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, which has been lurking menacingly.

Kwara State APC chairman, Omolaja Bolarinwa, while declining comments said,  “the press should wait, and watch to see whether or not the crisis is being resolved.”

Bolarinwa’s sudden appearance with Governor AbdulRahaman AbdulRazak, especially at the recent burial events of his (governor’s) father in Ilorin had given many observers of the goings on in the state some rays of hope that the crisis could be settled amicably.

Credible sources said the rift was a carry over of pre-election dichotomy between two factions within the APC in the state, loyalists of Sunday Fagbemi and Chief Iyiola Oyedepo.

It should be noted that the groups fused into one in their efforts to upstage the Saraki political dynasty. Although the circumstantially enforced unity led to the electoral victory, it became a source of internal discontent.

And when Kwarans were expecting to see the benefits of the political grouping, the old scars started developing as new wounds with the two groups slugging it out in a supremacy battle designed to convince Governor AbdulRazak of their relevance.

Deepening Gorge
Signs that the fresh wound was pushing the governing party into a deep gorge emerged when members of the executive committee became polarized, giving the impression that the swelling was equally spreading so fast like cancer.  With one group under the leadership of Bolarinwa and the other faction led by the party’s Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Aro Tajudeen Folaranmi, members on each side routinely go on air on different local radio stations to lambast each other.

The Bolarinwa’s group would want to jealously guard their respective portfolios, just as those in Folaranmi’s camp are clamouring for prompt dissolution of the executive arm to pave way for a new election of the functionaries.

At the heat of the rift, the three Senators from the state, Dr. Ibrahim Yahaya Oloriegbe (Kwara Central), Architect Lola Ashiru (Kwara South) and Alhaji Umar Sadiq (Kwara North), met with some of the warring factions, stressing the need for them to sheathe their proverbial swords.

Senator Oloriegbe disclosed how far he and his colleagues went to close the gaps between the warring factions. He said: “My colleagues and I and several other interested party loyalists recently met with identified leaders of the party on the need to embrace reconciliation.

“I want to say that the crisis is gradually being resolved. This is the best thing to do in the interest of our party, the state and our people.”

On his part, one of the Kwara State APC chieftains, Dr. Rex Olawoye, said he was not aware of any reconciliatory move by the senators or even anyone at all, saying however, “there might have been some, which no one counted us worthy enough to attend, I don’t know.”

Olawoye, who described himself as a fan of the governor, expressed disgust at the way Fagbemi’s faction that goes by the acronym ‘AA’ had allegedly formed a parallel body to the APC as the ruling party in the state.

Sources in Ilorin informed The Guardian that more than 90 per cent of the governor’s appointments till date have been from the ‘A.A Vanguards’ caucus, thereby rendering the polarised party structure as a lame duck machinery.  But Fagbemi denied that pervading rumour, noting that his faction comprises original foundation members of the party in the state just as he absolved the governor of any blame in his appointments.

Bolarinwa

Yet, Olawoye had disclosed: “Only the governor can resolve the lingering crisis and not any central figure from Abuja. I said this to his face. If the drum of war has no dancer then the drummer will be worn out and halt his performance.

“The governor has tried his best churning out some of the dividends of democracy to the people. He has done parts of what we fought for, but for him to do more, he needs to rise up to the challenges of the much-needed reconciliation. He is the leader of all in the state.”

An APC chieftain in the state, Chief Stephen Wole Oke, who is also the Third Republic leader of the state House of Assembly, declared that current reality is that APC in the state is divided from the top to the grassroots level.

In a chat with The Guardian, Oke narrated his efforts and observations, saying: “This is the fifth decade of my political career, I will not deceive myself, the divisions in the APC in Kwara is from the top, down to the bottom. We have two distinct groups of party executives. One is loyal to the governor, while the other is loyal to the party chairman.

“I had made series of personal efforts to meet all the aggrieved groups, but to no avail. The earlier the various interests within the party are harmonised on time the better for the party and the state. If not, the period of nominations into various elective positions may shred it into pieces. I mean, this disunity may become a mutual tool that will destroy the party. But I fervently pray that it will not get to that level.”

Chairman of House of Assembly Commission, Femi Yussuf, disclosed that he was aware of moves in several quarters to save the soul of the party from self destruction, stressing that the governor deserves kudos for his all-encompassing policies for all the people of the state, irrespective of tribe, sex and religion.

While pleading with party leaders for patience, Yussuf said the governor could only address the issues leading to the spread of political appointments among members in bits, even as he confirmed the peace moves by the three Senators from the state.

While stressing that Kwara APC issues would not be an exemption, Yussuf stated: “All known politicians are in politics due to different interests. Besides, they want their interest promptly served on the table before that of the others.

“But all needs to be patient. We need caution while awaiting the governor to meet up with these varying interests. Already, we are happy with him for putting up programmes that are touching the lives of the masses. Again, we should not forget the economic mess the previous government had plunged the state before the emergence of the APC government.”

A former chairman of defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in the state, Akogun Iyiola Oyedepo, said his greatest consolation as one of those who led the struggle to free Kwara people “from previous political emasculation” was the realisation of his age long dream, but not the expectation of any material gains from the struggles.

However, a source from the Government House, confided in The Guardian that Governor Abdulrazaq may “sooner than expected convene a meeting of all APC leaders in the state to finally resolve the brotherly rift in the interest of more progress under his leadership.”


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