Kwara opposition set to spring surprise in 2019
As the second term of the incumbent governor of Kwara State, Abdulfatah Ahmed, winds up, political parties have begun the plan to get majority votes in the next election.
Kwara state will be a cynosure of all eyes in the 2019 general elections, considering the rising level of political awareness among the people of the 51-year -old state. Before now, the dominant political bigwig in the state, Bukola Saraki, who is also the Senate President would have determined who succeeds the incumbent.
But many more people believe that there has to be a change of guards, hence they are throwing out the political docility of their forebears that helped the dominance of the Sarakis for decades. The strategy being employed by these change proponents is mainly the sponsorship of political programs on the five radio stations in the state, exposing the heels of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
The programs which run on weekly basis, and packaged in satirical forms are designed to remind the people of the state about the deplorable conditions of infrastructures and delayed payment of salaries among other failures.
Although, the state government is now taking serious some of the criticisms by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), many people think the response is belated.For instance, Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed-led government has procured an asphalt-laying machine and has embarked on roads repairs via direct labour in some parts of the state.
The Guardian checks showed that it would be hard if not impossible to complete about 70 per cent of the works before the 2019 polls.
Nevertheless, many observers have praised the state government for the prompt repair of Alagbado and Coca-Cola Road. And works have started on the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital (UITH) road along Old Ilorin / Jebba road as well as Oyun Bridge.Although Ilorin for several years had been affected by water scarcity, Ahmed’s led government engaged several tankers’ drivers to supply water to the residents.
Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Media and Publicity Dr Muideen Akorede described the water intervention as a temporary measure, noting that as soon as works on the reticulation of Agba and Asa Dams both in Ilorin were completed, “water will start flowing in all the houses of the people of Ilorin.”
On the salaries of workers, Akorede said the state government “is not owing any of its workers any salary”.He said it was not the responsibility of the state government to effect the payment of the local government workforce because, “only the employer has the duty of the payment of the salary of his worker.”But a few days ago, the governor secured a lifeline of N4 Billion to defray some of the debts owed the councils’ workers, including the concerned primary school teachers.
He met with the stakeholders of the existing 16 councils and the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) to agree on a workable sharing formula. One of the grouses the citizens of the state have against the government of Abdulfatah is high tax.
The people complain that the taxes slammed on them by Kwara State Revenue Services (KWRIS), led by Dr. Muritala Awodun is unrealistic. An extant case was the recent protest by market women who recently besieged the Government House. Awodun would later express his anger that the protested was aired on the KWIRS, a private radio station in Ilorin.
“What is the need for staging a protest at the government house over taxation issue?, “ Awodun queried.One area the opposition group is also exploring to its political advantage is the recent upsurge of cultism in Ilorin metropolis.It took the presence of the fully armed mobile police officers from the state command to dislodge suspected rival cult groups that terrorised the residents of ‘Agaka’ and ‘Baboko’ areas of Ilorin.
Commercial activities in the affected areas were grounded for about three days, as the warring factions went berserk destroying vehicles of unsuspecting motorists plying the routes. Also, the opposition group is exploring the security lapses at Offa leading to the recent unfortunate simultaneous robberies of five commercial banks in the ancient town. According to Chief Iyiola Oyedepo the Kwara state PDP Chairman, every proactive government should have made provisions for Armoured Vehicular Carrier to ward off the attacks that led to the death of scores of people, including nine police officers.
Notwithstanding, many people are happy with the prompt responses of the state Governor to address the crisis. Ahmed, promised immediate relocation of the Owode Police Station, which according to him was not strategically located, to a better area.
He also announced a price reward of N5 million for anyone with useful information on the perpetrators of the act. Already, an armoured personnel carrier has been facilitated into Offa by the state government to fortify the police against future recurrence.
The spokesman of Kwara APC, Sulyman Buhari faulted the scathing criticisms of the PDP over the Offa attacks. For Buhari, the issue has been unduly politicised noting that security issues should not be the exclusive duty of the ruling party. Despite the criticism of the opposition members, it is glaring that PDP itself is in shambles because there is no popular leader within the party hierarchy.
A parallel group led by Prince Sunday Fagbemi is challenging Oyedepo’s leadership. The development within the PDP is however a direct opposite of what exists within the APC under the firm control of the Senate President. Saraki’s voice cannot be challenged in the party without repercussion.Therefore, the fear of an unresolved bickering that may follow the primary elections is minimal under the APC led by Saraki.
Nevertheless, the list of potential governorship aspirants under theß APC seems frightening. Though still shrouded in secrecy, the list of the likely contestants include the incumbent Speaker of the state’s House of Assembly, Dr Ahmad Alli, former Sports Minister, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, former Acting National Chairman of the PDP, Kawu Baraje, former Speaker of the State’s House of Assembly, Abdulrazak Atunwa and a former member of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Moshood Mustapha. Sources said that ‘the Leader’ as Saraki is known among his cronies, might settle for someone outside the Kwara Senatorial district, “depending on the choice of the candidate of the opposition.”
For Buhari, “We don’t have any problem with the long list of our Governorship candidates. To us, the more the merrier. When we get to the bridge we will cross it successfully. We have a structure and a leader, so there would not be any problem.”A chieftain of the APC in the state and a former Chairman of the Board of Directors of the College of Education, Oro, Chief Stephen Wole Oke said the long list of the aspirants remained a testimony to the existence of democratic spirit in the APC “as against the dictatorial claims in some quarters. “
If one should go by the antecedents of Saraki, he may not settle for any of the aspirants he had not worked with. During his tenure as the governor, he told reporters that: “the one who will succeed me must have been the one that had worked with me.”As the permutations continue, the PDP in Kwara are treating one another with suspicions. Till date, only the former Vice Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, Professor Shuaib Oba Abdulraheem, is the only visible governorship aspirant of the party.
It is not yet certain whether or not the factions of Oyedepo and Fagbemi had been reconciled. The Publicity Secretary of the PDP in the state Dr. Rex Olawoye said the crisis in the party at present has been resolved with the recent pronouncement by the National Chairman of the PDP, Uche Secondus that Oyedepo remains the recognized the leader of the party in Kwara State.
Olawoye while speaking on the list of the governorship aspirants of the party in Kwara, said until proper zoning was released by the party any aspirant showing interest at present would be embarking on a wild goose chase.
“We are going to release the zoning probably by the end of April. We have numerous aspirants already but what we have told them is that they should exercise some level of constraints until when we have concluded the arrangement on the zoning. Anyone spending money now or doing some other things will just be wasting his money and energy.”
However, the National Chairman of the Labour Party (LP) who is also a native Kwara, Dr. Mike Omotosho said his party should not be underrated in the quests for the control of the state government house. In a nutshell, the one who will emerge as the next governor of Kwara State would be determined by factors such as political influence and zone of origin. What is almost certain however is that the candidate would not emerge from Kwara South Senatorial district, which at present produced the incumbent, whose time is almost up.
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