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Saraki’s defection, fresh intrigues in Kwara politics

By Abiodun Fagbemi , Ilorin. 
05 August 2018   |   4:19 am
The defection of Bukola Saraki and Kwara State Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed from APC to PDP didn’t come as a surprise to the newly inaugurated caretaker committee of the APC in Kwara. According to the Publicity Secretary of the APC in the state, Kayode Oyin-Zubir....

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The defection of Bukola Saraki and Kwara State Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed from APC to PDP didn’t come as a surprise to the newly inaugurated caretaker committee of the APC in Kwara. According to the Publicity Secretary of the APC in the state, Kayode Oyin-Zubir, the defection of the Senate President, Saraki and Ahmed “came to us as no surprise as the duo are allergic to progressive and developmental politics” 

For him, the duo had enjoyed so much indulgence and magnanimity of the leaders of the party, including the benefit of reconciling them to the party despite the establishment of avalanche of anti party activities against them. 

The APC spokesman added, “as the saying goes; the upright man shall stand and be brave like a lion. Their hurried defection without a good notice speaks volume of what they represent.“We will again encourage the good people of Kwara State to keep faith with us and continue to support our moves in the new journey to rediscover our dear state.

“We assure you that every member of the party – new and old will be given a level play ground to operate. The days of impunity are gone in our party. “We can only wish those who jumped ship better days in their new found political party and the mind to seek better, rewarding and prosperity for our people for the remaining period they have in their respective political offices. 

“It is imperative for us to appreciate the support given by the Honorable Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and the ingenuity of the National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole that saw us to a safe berth.”As it is today, the toga of who is the political leader of Kwara may be swinging on an unpredictable pendulum between Saraki and Lai Mohammed. But what remains an incontrovertible fact is that the political structure of Saraki is incomparable to that of Mohammed. 

Saraki while declaring his reasons for defecting to the PDP told his supporters at his ‘Ile-Loke’ Ilorin political square that he was never treated well as a major contributor to the success of the APC at the national level. The towering Senate President, gesticulating as he addressed his followers said his defection was not an ego trip as being touted in some quarters but a calculated attempt to integrate his people into national movement via a political party with robust ideology. 

He lamented the alleged abandonment of his followers while choice posts were apportioned to Lagos and Katsina states, just as he faulted the action of the police against him moment after his botched reconciliatory meeting with the Presidency and top echelons of the party in Abuja.

In another development, the Speaker of the state House of Assembly Dr. Ali Ahmad led 22 other APC members of the House, out of the 24 members to PDP. The only member who refused to join in the gale of the defection, Saheed Popoola from Offa/Ojomu constituency cited the dislike of members of the constituency to the defection. 

For the Information and Culture Minister Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Saraki’s led defection either at the Senate or Kwara State, would strengthen the ruling APC just as he noted that the Senate President had been a clog in the wheel of the APC by allegedly delaying the passages of annual budgets and refusing confirmation of key appointments that could have moved the government forward. 

Already over 90 per cent of the executives of the PDP in Kwara had defected to APC. According to the Chairman of the local PDP, Chief Iyiola Oyedepo in a chat with The Guardian in Ilorin, his defection was motivated by wider consultations with the PDP members in the state “due to their genuine concern for the growth of our moribund state.”

Oyedepo, a former Majority Leader in the state’s House of Assembly, added, “our objective for the state is not personal. In fact, we can never get it fulfilled in the same camp with the Sarakis. So the earlier we left, the better for us and the people of the state.”

Although the APC spokesman in the state, Sulyman Tunji Buhari had alleged that there was going to be “a harmonisation meeting” between Saraki’s group and the Oyedepo’s, he reacted thus: “I don’t believe in such type of a meeting. I prefer to abandon my office for my future and that of the teeming youths of Kwara than settle for a pot of porridge.”

Sources said that the new APC alliance in Kwara has placed Senator Gbemisola on “a close watch” as the mutual trust to the true course of the struggle could be difficult with her presence. 

One area of strength the camp opposed to Saraki’s political hegemony in Kwara has been exploring in recent times is the licenses granted to over five privately owned radio stations by the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) across the state. These stations had served as veritable channels for the opposition to do political enlightenment and positive criticisms. In the past, the airwaves were monopolized by state owned radio station to the disadvantage of successive opposition groups. 

Unconfirmed reports said Saraki might have begun moves to reconcile with some of his foot soldiers in order to prepare for the fierce political battle for the soul of the state come 2019. Only tide and time will determine the survival of the Sarakis as opposition mounts by the day.AN Ilorin High Court on Wednesday restrained members of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC) or any person or officers of the party from dissolving or taking any action towards dissolving Kwara State executive committee of the party.

The court granted the application after hearing the submission of Abdulwahab Bamidele, counsel to Isola Balogun-Fulani (chairman Kwara APC), Chief Christopher Tunji Ayeni, (secretary Kwara APC), who are claimants /applicants in the suit number KWS /292/218 filed before the court of Justice TS Umar.

Balogun-Fulani and Christopher Ayeni had dragged the national chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole and five others before the court on the purported dissolution of the Kwara APC executive committee by the NWC of the party.Other defendants /respondents in the suit include Mallam Mai Mala Binu, national secretary of APC, the party, APC NWC, INEC and Hon. Bashiru Bolarinwa (for himself and on behalf of members of the so-called or purported caretaker committee of Kwara state chapter of APC).

The reliefs granted the applicants by the court include that “this honourable court restrains the members of the NWC of the third defendant or any person or officers of the third defendant purporting to act for the third defendant from dissolving or taking any action towards dissolving Kwara State executive committee of the third defendant represented by the chairman /applicant who are duly elected to office as members of the executive committee of the third defendant in Kwara State on May 19, 2018, in accordance with the constitution of the third defendant pending the hearing and determination of the claimants /applicants motion on notice.

“That this honourable court restrains the sixth defendant and other members of the so-called or purported caretaker committee of Kwara State chapter of the APC from showing off or parading themselves or performing any function or duty specified for members of the executive committee of the third defendant, either individually or collectively as members of the executive committee or members of caretaker committee of the third defendant in Kwara State pending the hearing and determination of the claimants, applicants /applicant motion on notice.“That the motion on notice is hereby adjourned to August 7, 2018 for hearing.”

Meanwhile, the Balogun-Fulani led APC in the state has expressed sadness over the defection of Senate President Bukola Saraki, Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed and other political leaders from its fold.

The state publicity secretary, Alh Sulyman Buhari, the APC said that it believes the window of reconciliation isn’t still closed.He added: “We are genuinely worried over the gale of defections that hit our party yesterday, (Tuesday). The reason is simple. The Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki and the state Governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed were the livewire of the APC in Kwara state.

“To their credit, the APC won virtually all available electoral positions across the 16 Local Government Areas of Kwara State. It’s therefore very doubtful if this same feat could be replicated without them and other aggrieved party members in the party in the forthcoming elections.

“It is on the basis of this that we, as legitimate and duly elected members of the State Executive Committee of the APC in Kwara call on President Muhammadu Buhari, our national chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomole, and other national leaders of our party to urgently intervene in this imbroglio before it becomes irredeemable.Very interesting! This judicial angle leaves the matter open to more intrigues, as solely Abuja or Lai Mohammed cannot determine the genuineness of the Balogun-Fulani exco, except by law. And that could cripple whatever remains of the Kwara APC.