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Intrigues As Race For Kwara Government House Begins



TOPE FAYEHUN, in this analysis takes a cursory look at the issues playing up amongst political gladiators in the quest to succeed the outgoing Governor of Kwara State, Abdulfatah Ahmed

The battle for the control of Ahmadu Bello Government House in Kwara State has begun as more candidates have shown readiness to take the job of the outgoing Governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed in 2019 who have spent two-terms allowed by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. So far, political gladiators who felt they have the required qualification for the plum position of the governorship seat of the state have started their politicking, consultations, and mobilization across the state.

Day after day, these political gladiators who want to be the ‘landlord’ of the Government House of the State of Harmony are increasing within the two leading political parties in the state, that is the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state and the All Progressives Congress (APC) which will be a major contender in the election.

This, according to some of them is necessary in order to carry their political structure and the whole electorate of the state along in their quest to govern the state.

The 2019 governorship election in the state will be interesting with the current political intrigues playing out within the gladiators in the state. Recently, the man that controls the state in the last four decades in terms of politics dumped the All Progressives Congress (APC) and returned to the party he left in 2014, the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP).

Hitherto, the political leadership and control of Kwara State have been revolving around the political dynasty of the late Dr. Olusola Saraki who has remained the major determinant of who takes what in the state.

The people of the Kwara state followed Saraki the late political icon to any political platform he picked them to during his lifetime and this had made him produce four governors of the state, starting from late Alhaji Adamu Attah (1979-1983); Chief Cornelius Adebayo (October 1983 to December 1983); late Alhaji Muhammed Lawal (1999-2003) and his son, Dr. Bukola Saraki(2003-2011).

But, the situation about the political control of the state changed during the 2011 general election when his son fielded Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed under the PDP against Senator Gbemisola Saraki who contested under the platform of Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN).

However, those who have shown interest to govern the state include the ex-Governor Sha’aba Lafiagi; ex-minister of Sports, Bolaji Abdullahi; ex-minister of National Planning, Prof. Sulaiman Abubakar; a former chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Media and Publicity, Alhaji Zakary Mohammed; a former Vice President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade Issa Aremu and the Speaker of the Kwara State House of Assembly, Dr. Ali Ahmed.

Other heavyweights are a former member of the House of Representatives, Mashood Mustapha; a director with FCMB bank, Alhaji Luqman Mustapha; a former vice chancellor of the University of Ilorin, Prof. Shuaibu Oba Abdulraheem; Abdullahi Yanah, who is an associate of President Muhammadu Buhari; ex-governorship candidate of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in Kwara State, Mohammed Dele Belgore (SAN); Ahmed Mustapha Akanbi; Abdulfatai Yahaya Seriki;  Ibrahim Ajia, who was a  former aide-de-camp to ex-Senate President Pius Anyim; and Femi Sanni, among others .

Analysts are however of the opinion that among the aspirants in the ruling PDP,  the ex-Minister of Sports, Bolaji Abdullahi is the most qualified due to his unblemished loyalty to any party he belongs to through his political leader, Dr. Bukola Saraki.

Abdullahi who hails from Ilorin in Ilorin West local government area of Kwara state, was a deputy editor with THISDAY newspaper before he joined politics in 2003 and was a central figure among journalists that pitched their tent with the Saraki dynasty during the running up to the fiercely contested 2003 governorship election in Kwara state.

Though Saraki dynasty enjoyed popular support of the electorate, the media propaganda mounted against the administration of the late Governor Mohammed Lawal’s administration by Abdullahi and his colleagues greatly helped the Sarakis to defeat Lawal.

Although, he was compensated as he was appointed special assistant, communication strategy and later commissioner for education in the state by the then Governor Bukola Saraki, but political observers maintained that he will be the best man for the job if the party give him the opportunity.

According to the pundits, Abdullahi who later rose to become minister of Sports and Youth development under the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan resigned his position because of his loyalty to Saraki.

He was also elected as the national publicity secretary of the All Progressives Congress, in 2016 and on the 1st of August, 2018, Abdullahi’s loyalty to Senate President Dr. Bukola Saraki prompted him to resign his appointment as the APC spokesperson and decamped to the PDP.

Observers in the state are of the view that as commissioner for education, Abdullahi implemented some reforms in the state’s educational sector which brought about positive changes in the state.

The establishment of Quality Assurance Unit in the ministry was to his credit. Through the new unit, teachers were made to stay in their classrooms to teach the pupils at the stipulated times. Their proficiency was also enhanced through periodic training and retraining programmes.

Also, the ‘Every Child Counts’ policy introduced by Abdullahi also helped greatly in aiding effective teaching and learning process in public schools across the state. As part of strategies to sharpen the brains of the pupils, Abdullahi also introduced free milk distribution to schools as part of the pupil’s meal.