To what extent can the PDP go in displacing Saraki and reclaiming the Government House? Ultimately, the people of Kwara public would be the decider in 2015. But beyond the freedom mantra, analysts believe the PDP has got to convince the electorate it is
The conclusion of state congresses by the two contending political parties in Kwara State, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has given an identity to the political actors and actresses in the two parties.
Both parties witnessed a peculiar transformation which began last year when the New PDP was formed with Kwara playing prominent roles in the new movement.
Among leaders of New PDP then was former Governor of Kwara State and Senator representing Kwara Central in the National Assembly, Dr. Bukola Saraki.
Saraki who was governor from 2003 to 2011 had virtually assumed the position of his late father and Second Republic Senate Leader, Dr. Abubakar Olusola Saraki, who was the strongman and ultimate decider in the politics of the state.
Bukola assumed political leadership and installed the incumbent Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed who served as his commissioner for almost eight years in the finance and later planning and economic development ministries. Ahmed is considered loyal and has remained steadfast in that.
When the New PDP members decided to defect to APC, Ahmed did not tarry in doing the wish of his boss. All the elected office-holders in the state followed Saraki to APC, except Senator Simeon Ajibola representing Kwara South in the National Assembly.20 out of the 22 former PDP lawmakers also followed suit as well as all the 16 local government chairmen.
However, Saraki’s defection to APC with his supporters ruffled some feathers as It induced defections and counterdefections with some APC chieftains and leaders pitching tent with PDP to join the original PDP members who did not follow Saraki to APC. Among them were former governorship candidate of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Mr. Dele Belgore, his counterpart in the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Alhaji Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq with their supporters.
The defection that generated the most hysteria was that of Bukola’s younger sister, Senator Gbemisola Rukayyat Saraki, who was the governorship candidate of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN) in 2011. Bukola and Gbemi fell apart following the former’s opposition to the latter’s governorship ambition prompting her to dump the PDP for ACPN at that time. She has now returned to PDP with her supporters, teaming up with other PDP members, most of who belonged to the Saraki’s dynasty and worked with Bukola when he was governor, to fight her brother and the APC.
As it is, the PDP as presently constituted is a conglomerate of interests with some of them coming from Saraki, while the others are staunch enemies of the Sarakis who would not want to be under the control of Bukola as leader of APC.
The PDP therefore became the fertile ground to perch and a platform to ride on with the absence of Bukola. The stakeholders did not only vow to defeat the APC in the 2015 general elections, they promised to secure freedom for Kwara people in an allusion to the Saraki’s dynasty that controlled the state politics for over four decades.
However, the vacancies created by the exit of Saraki and his supporters from PDP were filled last week with the conduct of congresses at ward, local government and state levels. Though, the party elections were not without few skirmishes over the control of machineries of the party by the various gladiators and stakeholders in the party, the executives of the party at all levels have been inaugurated thereby giving the party shape and steam ahead of the next election.
The height of the congresses of the PDP was the emergence of Akogun Iyiola Oyedepo as the state chairman of the party with other 29 executive members who took over from the caretaker committee constituted by the national secretariat of PDP to re-build and re-organise the party.
Akogun was a chieftain of APC who defected to PDP following the defection of Saraki to the party. He, alongside other former APC members, was enraged with the APC leadership for handing the APC structures in the state to defectors. Besides, Akogun who is a former commissioner and one-time member of the state House of Assembly, is a devout critic of Bukola Saraki and has consistently picked holes in his government and the subsequent Ahmed-led administration.
On its part, the APC also concluded its congresses on Saturday with the election of a 35-man executive chaired by Ishola Balogun-Fulani, the former PDP Chairman who defected to APC with Saraki. Balogun-Fulani was majority leader in the House of Assembly and a loyalist of Saraki.
With the two parties having their executives in place, all is set for a titanic battle for the Ahmadu Bello way Government House come 2015. Banking on the federal “might”, the PDP has served quit notice on APC government, with the new chairman shortly after his election asking the APC to be prepared to vacate Government House. The chairman insisted that the APC government is illegally occupying the Government House and vowed that the PDP would retrieve its mandate.
But the APC dismissed this as a wishful thinking and a dream