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

Daily Trust - - INSIDE POLITICS -

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

Dr. Bukola Saraki Sen Gbe­misola Saraki

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