Monday January 10, 2021 endorsement of Kwara State governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq by the All Progressives Congress (APC) elders and stakeholders for a second term in office, signalled the commencement of rat race for the 2023 general elections in the state.
The endorsement event which took place at the prestigious Kwara hotels, Ilorin, will no doubt spur other interested persons in the state’s number one political office from even the APC, the major opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and other parties into action.
Since the 2019 general elections in the state, there have been lull in Kwara’s political space. Unlike what is obtainable in most states, the opposition PDP in the state has remained passive.
One thing that is sure is that the APC will have more than one gubernatorial aspirants as the ruling party has been embroiled in a seeming intractable leadership crisis almost immediately after the May 29, 2019 inauguration of Governor AbdulRazaq. The party has been polarised with various groups springing up as AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq support groups. The embattled state chairman of the APC, Hon. Bashiru Omolaja Bolarinwa, however, maintains his grip on the party with the support of some prominent stalwarts of the party and Oto ge crusaders such as Akogun Iyiola Oyedepo and Prof. Shuaib Oba AbdulRaheem. Bolarinwa is also said to have the backing of the two ministers from the state- Alh Lai Mohammed (minister of Information) and Senator Gbemisola Saraki (minister of state for Transportation.
Of course, the PDP which is gradually waking up from it’s slumber may outwit the APC if it picks its gubernatorial candidate from Kwara North this time around. The Kwara north zone supported the APC in the last general elections because of the failure of the PDP to pick its candidate from the zone. The Kwara North people are desperate to have one of their own in the driver’s seat at the Ahmadu Bello Way Government House, Ilorin. The last time a Kwara North man governed the state was in 1991- 1993 when Alh Mohammed Sha’a ba Lafiagi from Edu local government area was elected governor of the state on the platform of the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP).
The rousing reception accorded the immediate past Senate President, Dr Abubakari Bukola Saraki when he visited Ilorin on November 14, 2020 had bouyed the confidence of the PDP that the people of the state still love and believe in Saraki who is the national leader of the party.
Back to the endorsement event, the APC elders and stakeholders who addressed a crowded press conference in Ilorin, the state capital said Governor AbdulRazaq deserves a second term because of his outstanding performance within 18 months in office.
“Every performing governor should have second term. If he’s yet to come up with it, we’ll ask him to run for second term,” they stated.
The party stalwarts, including Prince Sunday Fagbemi who addressed the newsmen; Barr. Kunle Sulyman, Senator Makanjuola Ajadi, Elder Wole Oke, Alh Iliasu Alabi Iponrin, Hon. AbdulMumin Katibi, Alhaja Kuburat Kasum, Baristers Salman Jawondo and Teju Oguntoye; and Ambassador Nurudeen Mohammed among others lamented the frictions within the APC fold in the state.
They, however, said that there is room for reconciliation of the warring members.
“For us the solution is at the corner. The present caretaker committee exco has a tenure of six months. There will be a congress thereafter to elect party leaders at different levels in the state. We think that’s the only democratic way to solve the situation”, they said.
The APC elders and stakeholders accused the state party chairman, Hon. Bashir Bolarinwa and two stalwarts of the party, Prof Shuaib AbdulRaheem and Akogun Iyiola Oyedepo of working at cross purposes with Governor Abdulrazaq.
The stakehoders said that the party chairman and his ilks had never disguised their dislike for the governor and his administration, “for reasons unconnected to development of the state.
“Contrary to decency and party rules, they go on radio to openly condemn the government of their own party. Had the Governor not endeared himself to the masses with his humility, simplicity and people-focus performance as can be seen in every part of the state, the insurrection by these persons were enough to bring down any government, “ they added.
The party elders and stakehoders pledged their support for the governor and his administration, saying that the governor is delivering dividends of democracy.
They said that they have an historic duty to support Governor AbdulRazaq on account of his impactful leadership of the state, his prudence, humility and large-hearted approaches to issues, including party politics.
The elders said it was unfortunate that some persons within the party are teaming up with opposition elements to discredit the Governor in spite of his achievements which could be felt across the state within a short period of time.
“Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq remains a man of the people and he stands tall as a man of honour among the majority of our party members in the state, in spite of the unfair demarketing campaign launched against his administration by some of these party chieftains and their co-travelers in the opposition. This is not by chance,” according to a text of their address read by an elder statesman.
“Not only has the Governor demystified the office of Governor with his uncommon humility, simplicity, and prudence, he has redefined the story of our state in many positive ways. Whether in health, education, road, or water, the Governor has touched lives in many ways never seen before. He has strategically taken governance to the people such that there is no electoral Ward in the state that cannot point to one or two things that they have benefited in just 18 months of his administration,” they stated.
The elders rolled out a sectoral analysis of what the Governor has achieved, particularly in the health sector, road, water, education and social protection of the vulnerable, commending him for particularly making sure that every part of the state is getting a feel of good govern“The interesting thing about him is that he sees governance as an affair that transcends party loyalty, and this explains why he has become so popular with the masses, to the chagrin of his traducers!
“Here is a Governor who has driven his own private car since day one of his administration to date. Here is a Governor who lives in his own house till date. Here is a Governor who is not taking salary. Here is a Governor who is willingly opening up his government for accountability through the phenomenal social audit process. Here is a Governor who just wants to deliver his campaign promises to the people, despite the biting economic realities. Here is a Governor who gives every part of the state a fair sense of belonging by always identifying with them in time of cultural celebration or mourning, and extending government’s patronage to every segment of the state. Today, Kwara is a model state on the continent in youths and women inclusion in government,” the stakehoders added.
They further explained: “For the past few months, a number of events have occurred within our great party APC in Kwara State. Some members of our party have chosen to play to the gallery on issues of party administration or the performance of the government freely elected by the people of this state in 2019. We have watched and spoken to these persons in private for many months in our innocent belief that they were going to abandon selfish agenda for common growth and join hands with the administration to make life a lot better for our people.
“Having failed to listen to the voice of reason and constantly turning history on its head to deceive unsuspecting members of the party and general public, we are compelled as party stakeholders and elders to stand up to be counted at this critical moment and set the record straight. This press briefing has therefore been called to make it clear that the Governor, humble, unassuming, and performing, is a victim of vicious attacks and blackmails from individuals who have long masked their greed, personal aggrandisement, ego, unbridled ambitions, and false sense of entitlement with claims that they are fighting for the party. The Governor and the silent majority of our party members and leaders are putting up with persons who feel that we owe our breaths and victory at the poll to them alone.
“Unknown to many unsuspecting members of the public, the emergence of various groups that have declared support for the Governor was not without a justifiable background. It is to show that this performing Governor is not without patriots who felt that the only essence of Otoge was the service of the people. Other interests are secondary. For as long as the Governor does this, he has the full backing of the majority of party members, elders and the entire populace of Kwara State.”
They added that shortly after the inauguration of the governor, some chieftains within the party started a campaign codenamed ‘jeunkosanwo’. To the elders, this implied that the governor was never going to have a second term, irrespective of his sterling performance. The elders averred that those attacking the governor were ready to frustrate and distract the government just to realise their own selfish ambitions.
They said, “Despite working against the Governor from day one of his administration, many of them felt it was their birthright to become the godfathers to the same Governor and handpick anyone for him.
“Contrary to decency and party rules, they go on radio to openly condemn the government of their own party. Had the Governor not endeared himself to the masses with his humility, simplicity and people-focus performance as can be seen in every part of the state, the insurrection by these persons were enough to bring down any government” they said.
The party leaders further argued that several party chieftains and patriots in their own right felt a need to stand with the governor who, they said, was clearly being unfairly treated by those who ought to push aside personal gains and stand by him to rebuild the state for us and generations to come.
“This is why we have also come together to stand for the Governor! The people of Kwara State are totally in support of the Governor and his administration because he has made them the focus of governance.
“Otoge is our people’s battles, not anyone’s initiative. The likes of Akogun and others have tried to personalise the Otoge struggle. For students of history, the Otoge campaign indeed predated this Republic! It is an idea that had long been etched in the minds of the people. The Otoge struggle had long begun before then and the likes of the Governor had always been part of the struggle to free the state from what Akogun and others never thought was evil.
“Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq remains a man of the people and he stands tall as a man of honour among the majority of our party members in the state, in spite of the unfair demarketing campaign launched against his administration by some of these party chieftains and their co-travelers in the opposition,’ they said.
Be that as it may, the politics of 2023 has no doubt began on a good note for the governor with such an endorsement which is bound to cause ripples within the political space. This comes as eyes will also be on the opposition PDP on how it repositions itself after it was dislodged in 2019. While the recent return of the former Senate President to the state had also signaled a desire by Saraki to jump start the PDP machinery in the state, it is yet to be seen whether or not the opposition platform can be equipped enough to make a solid showing.
This is not by chance. Not only has the Governor demystified the office of Governor with his uncommon humility, simplicity, and prudence, he has redefined the story of our state in many positive ways. Whether in health, education, road, or water, the Governor has touched lives in many ways never seen before. He has strategically taken governance to the people such that there is no electoral ward in the state that cannot point to one or two things that they have benefited in just 18 months of his administration,”he said.
“We have kept quiet for long in the expectation that good reason will prevail. But silence is no longer golden and it is about time every patriot, within and outside our party, stood by this humble and hard working gentleman in order not to allow a few persons persons with dangerous sense of entitlement and greed to erode the historic gains of 2019.”