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2015: Raging political forces in Kwara
Political permutations and underground scheming are already on in Kwara State among the big political parties ahead of the 2015 general election. Biola Azeez writes.
VARIOUS yardsticks are used to measure the strength of a political party in any society at any particular point in time. Some political watchers say one of the criteria is the performance of a government that is in power, while others have the belief that strength and versatility of that ruling political party are determinant factors. It is an understatement to say that, as part of moves and calculations for the electoral battle of 2015, notable political parties and their supporters are already strategising for the battle ahead.
The ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kwara State has continued to call the shots in the power game of the state against all moves by the opposition to wrest the state from it since 2003 general elections when the party’s landslide electoral victory brought in the immediate past governor of the state and now senator representing Kwara Central Senatorial District, Senator Bukola Saraki. More than one year in office, some commentators observe, Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed has been living up to the expectations of the electorate in the delivery of democratic dividends through the completion of projects inherited from the immediate past administration.
Reports also have it both Ahmed and his predecessor, Senator Saraki, have been collaborating to ensure the development of the state, such that various policies capable of enhancing the socio-economic growth of the state that were initiated by the current administration, were said to enjoy the blessing of the immediate past governor of the state, as part of renewed efforts to accelerate the social well-being of the citizenry.
Apart from his tactical support for the incumbent governor, Saraki’s recent intervention in some policy implementations have further gone a long way to shore up the popularity of the state government among the masses. For example, the recent planned policy to restrict commercial motorcycle operators, popularly called okada riders in Ilorin, following allegations of crimes and criminality among the operators, raised the rating of Ahmed among the commercial motorcyclists.
However, in what political pundits described as the dawn of politicking ahead of the 2015 general election, recent activities of the National Secretary of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who is engaged in a battle royale with his party’s governorship candidate in the last general election, Dele Belgore (SAN), over who the party should field for the 2015 governorship election in the states, have introduced another interesting dimension to the struggle for power in Kwara.
Sources close to Alhaji Mohammed said that the former Chief of Staff to the national leader of the ACN, Governor Bola Tinubu, had appealed to the party leader to consider his old age and give him the 2015 governorship slot to replace Belgore, a development analysts believe may likely increase the electoral chances of the PDP the crucial poll.It was also gathered that Alhaji Mohammed, who contested the governorship seat of Kwara State in 2003 under the defunct Alliance for Democracy (AD), had even gone ahead to resurrect his campaign organisation, called Lai Mohammed Political Organisation (LAMPO), for the coming political struggle against the ruling PDP government.
Sources said the development angered Belogore, who, it was gathered, is still nursing the ambition of contesting the Kwara governorship race in 2015.
Also, highly placed sources within the party said the chairman of the ACN in the state, Kayode Olawepo’s tenure had ended and that there were moves to convene another convention to replace him and strengthen the party’s structure ahead of 2015 and, more importantly, decide who will control the party among the duo. Commenting on the reported rift between him and his party’s standard-bearer in 2011, Alhaji Mohammed denied the development, saying there was nothing of such . But political watchers hold the view that only time would determine evolving intrigues within the fold of the ACN.
“I think what is happening is that some people have completely lost focus. They are hallucinating. The hallucination should be a matter of interest to the people. What Kwara State people want is good roads, potable water, jobs for their children, better health care system, better educational systems and not to be fed with stories that are, at best, figments of the imagination. We know the source of the stories,” the ACN spokesman had said.
Mohammed continued: “They only want to distract people and make a mountain out of a molehill. For the avoidance of doubt, there is absolutely no issue, no rift whatsoever between me and MD Belgore (SAN). Absolutely none. We should all face the issue of governance and stop making headlines out of non-existing stories. The question is, what relation does my rift have with governance?”
While some keen political watchers in the state perceived the ACN to be at present in a precarious situation not palatable for its struggle to take over the governance of Kwara State in 2015 governorship poll in the state, it is also believed that a rudderless organ may be in a more difficult situation to focus or concentrate on its struggle for better political fortune in the state. Similarly, recent publications by a local tabloid suspected to be owned by a member of the opposition that the seeming robust relationship between Ahmed and Saraki was already heading for the rocks, the Nigerian Tribune gathered, was part of the antics and ploys to create imaginary animosity between the duo.
Further checks by Nigerian Tribune indicated that the alleged rift between Governor Ahmed and the political leader in the state, Senator Saraki, may be a figment of the opposition’s imagination, while the state government had also said it was a concocted lie by the opposition in a futile attempt to cause disaffection between the two ahead of the 2015 gubernatorial elections in the state.
Governor Ahmed, in a statement issued in Ilorin by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Communications, Dr Muideen Akorede, stressed that the relationship between him and Saraki, rather than waning, remained cordial and strong, based on a historical association and a shared vision of a prosperous Kwara State, dismissing the speculated dispute as the making of the opposition.
“Ours is a unique partnership based on mutual respect, which grows stronger daily due to our long history and standing commitment to making Kwara a model for other states in terms of economic growth and prosperity for the people. We are like a tag-team; which we are pulling our strengths together in a determined effort to build a greater Kwara for the benefit of prosperity. Senator Saraki is a man for whom I retain the highest regard and I am happy to state that the feeling is reciprocal”, said Ahmed, who served as commissioner for seven years during Saraki’s tenure as governor.
Describing his administration as a government of continuity, the governor said the situation in Kwara was unique, due to the peaceful transition from the previous administration to the current one, adding that his decision to scale up the laudable programmes initiated by his predecessor was an eloquent testimony to the benefits of continuity. This continuity, he said, had continued to elude other states in the country and remained the bane of sustained development in Nigeria.
While stressing that 2015 was still far off, Governor Ahmed stated that he remained focused on economic empowerment of the Kwara people and growing the state’s economy through his administration’s robust Shared Prosperity Programme [SPP]. Also speaking on the development, Senator Saraki said the rumour of rift between him and Governor Ahmed was a beer parlour and low level gossip that needed not to be dignified with a response, adding that it was just a strategy of a sinking opposition in the state to stay afloat and be seen to be relevant.
“The opposition are advised to develop another strategy ahead of 2015 instead of sponsoring falsehood and lies that will lead them nowhere”, he said.Share