Just like in some other states, President Goodluck Jonathan lost his re-election bid in Kwara State in the just concluded general election. AROWONA ABDULAZEEZ writes on how the Peoples Democratic Party worked against itself in Kwara state
There is no doubt the outcome of the just concluded general elections in Kwara state just like in many other states where hopes were high that the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, would swing a great surprise by delivering and garnering votes for President Goodluck Jonathan and equally unseating the incumbent governor of Kwara state ended in a huge disappointment.
Although, the problems of the Kwara PDP have both remote and immediate causes, the problem snowballed when the former minister of sports, Bolaji Abdullahi was removed.
Shortly after the sacking of Mallam Abdullahi, from the federal executive council after being suspected as being a PDP member in Abuja and APC in Kwara, the choice of who to replace him became a thorny issue as a business mogul and close ally of Dame Patience Jonathan, Mrs Muinat Shagaya’s prevailed over the entire Kwarans and nominated a relatively unknown lecturer from the University of Abuja, Dr. Abubakar Suleiman.
President Jonathan who had in his wisdom envisaged tough challenge from the gang up of opposition groups that formed the APC was said to have demanded for a competent and election winning strategist who would adequately serve as minister and deliver the state en bloc for the PDP and consequently retrieve the assumed “stolen mandate “ but the choice of the current National Planning Minister ahead of Mallam Yinka Aluko, was according to analysts a huge false step in that direction.
This singular factor of ministerial imposition caused serious cracks in the PDP after which several rallies were held to unify the party members and supporters ahead of the general elections. Apart from not being on ground as a grassroots politician, the minister also woefully failed to learn and gather genuine minds who could be instrumental to dismantling the over 40 years of Saraki’s political dominance in the state as he wrongly swore allegiance to Mrs. Shagaya and never connected to the people that mattered; the voters.
With this among other factors, President Jonathan was being giving wrong feedbacks which eventually resulted a little bit above 30 percent of the total votes cast in the state.
However, shortly after the papering over of the ministerial grudges, no fewer than 13 aspirants expressed interest to vie for the governorship seat including Senator Gbemisola Saraki who had earlier publicly announced her defection to the party along with her siblings subjecting the party to another serious testing time which the leadership could no longer manage.
Since the Kwara APC under the leadership of Senator Bukola Saraki had no choice than to endorse Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed re-election bid, the APC folk remained united and focused with their tentacles spread across the state having prior to the election appointed scores of aides for the governor to serve as agents of mobilization in their respective localities in preparation for the polls.
The outcome of the guber primaries that produced Senator Simeon Sule Ajibola, a Christian from the southern part of the state added salt to the injuries. The total rejection of Mr. Dele Belgore, SAN, who was being seen as the candidate of Mrs Shagaya also did not help the party’s quest to unseat Saraki’s anointed son, Governor Ahmed.
With the defeat of Gbemisola Saraki at the primaries, she consequently backed out from the party ‘s activities claiming that the freedom struggle championed by the PDP is directly against the dynasty of her late father and Waziri of Ilorin, Dr. Olusola Saraki and succeeded in leaving many of her loyalists behind as moles in the PDP even within the executive members of the party.
Similarly, Belgore who was compensated by Shagaya to chair the Jonathan campaign organization also goofed and allegedly worked against the party by not carrying people that matter along. This has been blamed on vengeance and there are insinuations that he wanted to justify why the party should have chosen him in the first place.
In order to eradicate religious sentiment going round the town about the PDP guber candidate, Senator Ajibola in consultation of other elders hurriedly shopped for the Kwara Central Senatorial candidate and former Security Adviser to Governors Saraki and Ahmed respectively, Mallam Yinka Aluko (a Muslim and Fulani from Ilorin) and prevailed on him to stall his senatorial ambition and become the running mate since about 44 percent of the total votes would come from his axis, Kwara Central as he said, “ no sacrifice is too much for the survival and progress of the party.”
Day and night campaigns were taken to the nooks and crannies of the state with the people identifying with the party and vowed to join the freedom train but surprisingly, the March 28 presidential and National Assembly elections changed the tune as the APC won the presidential seat and cleared all the National Assembly seats in the state. With the at the centre, Gbemisola finally defected and joined her brother in the APC and ordered her supporters to use so do.
Despite the fact that it was believed clearly that the party had all the machineries to prosecute the elections to its favour but it appeared its leaders were not working towards victory as many complained that the resources were not deployed appropriately to achieve the expected results.
While the aftermath of the presidential and National Assembly elections therefore precipitated speculations that it was the Gen Muhammadu Buhari’s factor that favored the APC in the polls while the party tried hard to convince Kwarans not to replicate the change achieved at the national level in the state but their appeal couldn’t sway voters as results of the election showed nothing but gross disappointment as both the human and financial efforts was foisted only on the guber candidate and his running mate with no supports from the party structure/executives even when many of them have towed.
However, Mr Belgore SAN was allegedly caught canvassing for APC ahead of the guber poll in order to be eminently qualified since power is assumed to be coming to the Kwara Central in 2019 being the major target of Gbemisola.
By and large, the APC did not only win the governorship election, it equally emerged victorious in all the 24 House of Assembly constituencies, a feat the ruling party did not achieve in the 2011 election leaving none for the PDP.
With the outcome of the result, it has now shown that Kwara is APC and APC is Kwara although, independent minded individuals who were terribly jolted by the results vowed to remain in PDP hoping that “freedom will surely come one day,” arguing that the non-performance of Governor Ahmed in the state in the last four years when added to the eight years of his political godfather, Sen Saraki, the result is abysmal for the state.
Public analysts and observers who keenly desire to end Saraki’s hegemony in the political system of the state have found out that it was tall dream at least in this dispensation as they attributed the failure of the PDP to achieve results in the last elections to lack of cohesion with the party’s stakeholders working at cross purposes with President Jonathan.
Although, the APC also succeeded in weeping up religious sentiments against the PDP’s candidate, other factors such as structural imbalance as well as sell of votes by the electorate accounted for the dismal outing of the PDP.
While conceding defeat, the deputy governorship candidate of the PDP Mallam Ahmed Yinka Aluko, disclosed that despite the outcome of the poll, the freedom struggle is not negotiable.
In his congratulatory message to the governor-elect, Aluko added that the PDP family have indeed shown enthusiasm towards freeing the state from the aged-long economic and social bondage that has further subjected the people to hardship and financial difficulties in the face electoral inadequacies.
He therefore said that if God would use the governor-elect to put smiles on the faces of Kwarans during his second term in his office, there is no doubt that his name will be written in gold.
Aluko therefore saluted the courage of all those who stood by him during the struggle and assured them of his continuous commitment and steadfastness until Kwara State attains its deserved economic status.
With the coming up of a proper APC government in the state even at the federal level, it is the hope of Kwarans that the dwindling funds from federal allocation, which the state governor blames for his poor performance should soon be a thing of the past. However, the bonds collected and the burden of servicing such would prove real stumbling block to any meaningful development in the state.
It is therefore said that the survival of the PDP in Kwara however lies on the performance of the National Working Committee, NWC, of the party as well as the roles and competence of the genuine members who are left in the party in carrying along supporters and paving ways for their sustainability ahead of 2019.