Kwara 2019: Opposition, gladiators plot to upstage Saraki, APC


Ahead of the 2019 elections in Kwara State, a flurry of political activities has taken over the initial quiet spell that enveloped the state. Now, underground lobbying and permutations complemented with nocturnal meetings by erstwhile political friends and foes, have been intensified. The emerging grand plot, it was gathered, is aimed at eventually defeating incumbent Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed and upstaging the ruling All Progressives Congress from the Kwara State Government House in 2019.
Interest groups and concerned citizens, who are not disposed to the ruling APC’s style of governance in the state, we learnt, have also bought into the plot to rout the incumbent governor and his political party from the state’s political turf. Sources within the political circlein the state have also disclosed that powerful elite, within and outside the state, have resolved to wrestle political power from the embattled Senate President Dr. Bukola Saraki, the acclaimed leader of the ruling APC in the state.
Recall that the perennial battle for supremacy between Saraki and the amalgam of the elite in the three senatorial districts in the state, became fierce immediately after the demise of the self-acclaimed Kwara political godfather and kingmaker, Dr. Abubakar
Olusola Saraki, who bequeathed the leadership of his political dynasty to his son, Bukola.
Although the gang-up before and during the 2015 elections could not rattle Saraki and his camp, The Point can reveal that it was the Muhammadu Buhari factor that eventually overwhelmed and disorganised the Peoples Democratic Party machinery in the state.

Uba Group

Checks have also revealed that already, five governorship aspirants have indicated interest yet again, and have been holding meetings with their party faithful and foot soldiers outside the confine of the state. The early preparations this time, according to an insider, is to allow for proper mobilisation and sensitisation of the electorate so as to forestall a repeat of what befell the main opposition PDP standard bearer, Senator Simeon Ajibola, ho was defeated by incumbent Governor Ahmed in the 2015 governorship election.
According to The Point investigation, plans by party stalwarts in the PDP, Labour Party, Alliance for Democracy, All Progressives Grand Alliance, KOWA and ACPN to end feuds plaguing warring factions in the state is yielding fruits.

Already, the aforementioned political parties, groups, political movements and the troubled PDP have intensified plans to re-group and demystify Saraki’s dominance of Kwara politics. But for now, they are holding back on their plan so as to allow the internal wrangling between warring PDP factions simmer before going ahead.

However, political watchers and analysts of Kwara politics have predicted no-end in sight to the perennial internal crisis rocking PDP. For many, the fractionalisation of the party structure under Prince Sunday Fagbemi of the Senator Ahmed Makarfi led-faction and that of Akogun Iyiola Oyedepo of the Senator Ali Modu Sherriff camp, would greatly pose a setback for the PDP in the state.

They also hinge their predictions on the unseen hands and fifth columnists frustrating efforts to quell the raging crisis in the party. A top source in the camp of the party’s former governorship candidate, Prof. Shuaib Oba Abdulraheem, however, confirmed to The Point on the telephone that the state PDP was making frantic efforts to unite its warring members in the two factions ahead of the 2019 election. ‘’We are doing everything manly
possible not to repeat the mistake of the past, hence the pro-activeness being exhibited this time. As you are aware, we are in crisis but it is manageable such that sooner than later the two factions would work together towards success,’’ he said.
Also, a mega gathering of big wigs within the two PDP factions, other parties in the state, interest groups and the newly resuscitated Atiku Abubakar’s Peoples Democratic Movement group in the state is reportedly being tinkered with before the end of the year at an undisclosed location outside the state. As part of its plan B, a powerful group is said to have a dark horse waiting in the wings in case the reconciliation process fails to sail through.

A high level consultative group is said to have been mandated to market the immediate past Minister of National Planning, Professor Abubakar Sulyman, who is from the Central
senatorial district and Dr. Mike Omotosho, who was frustrated out of the PDP, while almost clinching a ticket for the Southern senatorial district in the last elections.
Omotosho later contested the governorship election under the banner of the Labour Party in 2015, but lost to Governor Ahmed. Some of the reasons advanced for this development include: Sulyman’s political clout, his support base, his non-controversial status and most importantly, the numerical strength of his senatorial district, where Saraki hails from.

These, it is believed, would be strategic to some of the plans being conceived. As for Omotosho, the group is banking on the fact that his political forays in the state enjoys reasonable followership and popularity amongst the electorate in the Southern senatorial
district and even in the state capital. That, in their estimation, would weaken the incumbent governor’s support base.

The Point also learnt that a major financier of the PDP in the state had been mandated to lure Omotosho back to the PDP, so that they could dangle the carrot of the state’s deputy
governorship slot before him. Omotosho, in a recent chat with The Point, said, ‘’I am still in politics and hoping to give another shot at the governorship.”

Disturbed by the proposed arrangements, former candidate and aspirants, including Dele Belgore (SAN), Senator Ajibola; former chairman, Federal Character Commission, Prof.
Oba Abdulraheem; Alhaji Akeem Lawal, a son of former Governor Lawal; and oil mogul, Alhaji Abdulrahman Abdulrasaq, recently came out of their shells and started lobbying the two PDP factional chairmen in the state with a view to clinching the party’s ticket again.
Unconfirmed reports also have it that either of the duo of Belgore and Abdulrasaq looked good to emerge from the Fagbemi faction, as both have played key financial and strategic
roles in the past. In the same vein, Abdulraheem, it was gathered, is banking on his closeness to the powers-that-be in Abuja, his astuteness and popularity to secure the ticket from the Oyedepo faction.

Incidentally, too, the trio hail from the main battle ground, the Central district, which is Saraki’s political base and where there is a large chunk of votes. Meanwhile, in its ploy to fight back and ward-off imminent danger, the Governor Ahmed-led administration has continued to maintain its hold on the state and part of its strategy is the recently sworn-in appointees of the Transition Implementation Committee in the 16 local government areas
of the state, put in place after the expiration of the tenure of the council chairmen.

This development followed the hue and cries that emanated from the opposition camp, which had opted for council elections as a way of testing both parties’ popularity ahead of the 2019 election in the state. The opposition has also threatened to go to court to challenge what it described as illegal imposition, instead of the much awaited council election.
The Point gathered that the TIC members in the 16 council areas, who had already swung into action, were core party loyalists unleashed to maintain the governor’s hold on the
grassroots. Furthermore, the APC leader in the state, Senator Saraki, has also consolidated on his outreach programme in his constituency and in the state as a
The Point gathered that constituency projects across the wards that make up his Central senatorial district were on-going, while empowerment programmes had also been stepped up to cover more space before political hostilities towards 2019 resume. The idea behind Saraki’s attendance of the last Sallah festival celebration in Ilorin, according to a reliable source, was part of the plan by the family to calm frayed nerves and checkmate growing animosity against the Senate President in the state.
Although Saraki is still making a secret of who among the trio of former Minister of Youth and Sports, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi; a member of the House of Representatives from the North senatorial district, Mallam Zakari Mohammed and the incumbent Speaker of the Kwara State House of Assembly, Dr. Alli Ahmed, would succeed Governor Ahmed, a source said Saraki, as the leader of Kwara politics, cherished untainted loyalty and would likely settle for any of the three. But as race towards 2019 in the state gathers momentum, questions are being raised about the place of former governorship candidate of the ACPN in the 2011 election, Senator Gbemisola Saraki, in all of these permutations?

Questions are also being raised over those allegedly fronting for and oiling the political machinery of former vice president Atiku Abubakar in the state, while many also question
the perceived interest of the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and Mr. Modibbo Kawu in the political drama unfolding in Kwara.

Many are also interested in whether the embattled Senate President Saraki would survive the imminent political tsunami threatening his office and the implication such an untoward development may have for Kwara politics. Analysts are, however, having divided opinions about the effect the new alliance by political interest groups in Kwara would have on the state. For them, the question to ask is whether it would usher in a new beginning or help in maintaining the status quo?