Tension in APC, PDP, SDP for soul of Kwara
The candidates that have emerged from recent senatorial primary elections in the two leading political parties in Kwara State, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) can shape the outcome of the governorship polls in the state.
The battle royale appears to be a straight fight between the incumbent Governor, Mallam AbdulRahaman AbdulRazak of the APC and PDP’s Yahman Kolo. But the rising profile of the rejuvenated Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the state can’t be ignored as well.
Hakeem Oladimeji Lawal, the son of former Governor of the state, Alhaji Mohammed Lawal is the flag-bearer of the SDP in the 2023 governorship elections. The party is peopled by the members of the disgruntled faction of the APC.
According to Saheed Popoola, an embattled House of Assembly member from Offa/Eesa/Shawo constituency, “the former APC members you are seeing today, formed the bulk of those that coined, strategised and prosecuted the ‘O To Ge’ movement in Kwara. So, APC in Kwara today is like a vehicle without an engine. We were the engine.”
But the APC chairman in Kwara, Prince Sunday Fagbemi said, “if they are truly the engine of our party, why is the vehicle travelling at lightning pace without them? What an elusive thought. The fact is that they are paper tigers while we are the moving train. The elections will put them where they rightly belong. One of them recently lost a shadow election to a political rookie two times. You can see what I am telling you.”
Kwara State, like any other state of the federation, is divided into three Senatorial Districts – Kwara North with four local council areas; Kwara Central with five LGAs and Kwara South with seven LGAs.
The usual aphorism among political pundits in the state is that any governorship candidate that wins the Kwara South and either of the other two, will emerge victorious at the polls.
At present, the people of the state may have been poised to vote for candidates rather than on political platforms. This may be a fallout of the ‘O To Ge’ political ‘Tsunami’ that upturned the apple cart in the 2019 general elections in the state.
The recently concluded primaries of the Senate show that two out of the three serving senators of the APC will be returning to the ‘Red Chambers’ if voted to power. These are Umar Suleiman Sadiq (Kwara North) and Oyelola Ashiru (Kwara South). Yahaya Oloriegbe (Kwara Central) will be replaced with an Ilorin-born oil magnate, Soliu Mustapha.
In PDP, Senator Rafiu Adebayo (Kwara South) will attempt to regain the slot snatched from him some three years ago by Ashiru. In Kwara North, it will be a political fiasco between the incumbent, Sadiq and Issa Bawa of the PDP. It would be recalled how it was a keen PDP primary electoral contest between a former Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Bawa and a former Commissioner for Special Duties, Aisha Ahman-Pategi.
At the Central, Mustapha will slug it out with PDP candidate, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, ex-Minister of Youths and Sports.
If the 2019 Senatorial electoral results will be replicated in 2023, then it may be ‘uhuru’ for Governor AbdulRahaman AbdulRazak who is vying for his second term in office.
PDP spokesman in the state, Prince Tunji Morohunfoye scored the three APC senators low in the discharge of their duties to the people of the state.
He told The Guardian in Ilorin that, “no matter what they might have done at the Senate, the impact on the lives of the people are average. The people are not feeling the impact. They are hungry and that is what our candidates are coming to do. They will consult with members of their constituencies and ask them what they need. It won’t be a case of giving to the people what the people don’t need. That is not democracy.”
During the election held on February 23, 2019, all the APC candidates – Oloriegbe (central), Umar (north) and Ashiru (south) – won.
Meanwhile, the Kwara Central tussle next year will no doubt be keenly contested between Mustapha, the newly turbaned Turaki of Ilorin and Abdullahi, popularly called ‘Omoluwabi.’
Besides, the outcome of the polls may be the acid test for Bukola Saraki in Ilorin politics on whether or not he is still endeared to the heart of the people of the ancient town.
For Chief Wole Oke, the APC chieftain in Kwara, “the party will repeat its 2019 feat in all the elective positions. In fact, it will be better this time around. All our candidates are strong and chosen by the people. They were never imposed on anyone. The people of Kwara are wiser for it and they have seen the difference between our people and my people.”
The chairman of the state PDP, who was also a former Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Tunde Mohammed believes that the candidates of the party are the best and could not be defeated by any opposition in the state.
Will the prediction of the pundits come to pass again in 2023 that the party that wins the Senatorial seats will produce the Governor? Time and indeed, the electorate will decide under a free and fair contest.