Last weekend, by-elections held in three states -Kwara, Bauchi and Katsina. The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) was expected to win in Bauchi and Katsina. However, all eyes were on Kwara and the reasons are not far fetched.
The strong man of Kwara politics, Senate President Bukola Saraki had defected from the APC to the PDP and as expected, members of the National and state assemblies also joined him in PDP. The Senate President is firmly in control of Kwara politics the same way Bola Tinubu is in control of Lagos politics. Every politician in the state rides into office on Saraki’s back.
On the other hand, since Saraki defected, Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, automatically became the leader of APC in the state.
Since Saraki’s defection, this was the first election that was holding in Kwara. It was seen as a straight contest between Saraki and Lai Mohammed. Saraki wanted to prove that he still holds the ace in Kwara and Lai Mohammed wanted to prove to the federal government that he could deliver the state to APC and assume the numero uno position of Kwara politics.
I was following the election with keen interest and when it was announced, Lai Mohammed caused an upset, with the APC winning the election. This is the first time a candidate, who is not backed by Saraki, is winning an election into the National Assembly or any election in the state. This was a monumental victory for Lai Mohammed and APC. The divorce between the senate president, the APC was so bitter that Saraki and Mohammed became sworn enemies. So I could understand the gloating by the APC.
When I spoke to some of my friends from Kwara, they said it was more of a protest vote as the indigenes were already getting tired of the Saraki dynasty in the state. So, I asked myself, is this the beginning of the end for the Saraki dynasty in Kwara? All good students of history will know that nothing lasts forever; dynasties and empires have come and gone.
However, I think it’s still too early to predict that this is cusp of Saraki’s reign in Kwara. We still have the general elections coming up in February and March. Saraki by now, like a good general, would have gone back to the drawing board to restrategise .He might have lost the battle but the major war is still ahead. Saraki knows that a takeover of the state by the APC in 2019 will translate to his political obituary.
The APC too should not celebrate too early or become complacent in the general elections in Kwara. We know in politics, 24 hours is enough to change the tide of the game. The APC may have won the first half of the game; the second half would be interesting indeed.