BY DEMOLA AKINYEMI
AFTER a long period of contemplation, Kwara Patriots, a group noted for its historical opposition to the Saraki family, last week, struck a deal with Governor Bukola Saraki, the leader of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in the state in the ongoing battle of supremacy within the famed Saraki political family.

The major weapon of the governor was his bait to uphold the principle of zoning which the Kwara Patriots had all along fought for.

The governor’s affirmation of zoning produced Alhaji  Abdulfatah Ahmed from Share, in Ifelodun local government area of Kwara South as the PDP governorship candidate in the forthcoming election which is about  two months away.

It would be recalled that Governor Bukola Saraki’s respect for zoning had pitched him against  his father, Dr. Olusola Saraki who insisted that Senator Gbemisola Saraki, the Governor’s younger sister should succeed Bukola as Governor next May. That development has led to a fracture in the otherwise dominance of the Oloye as the elder Saraki is called, over Kwara politics.

The open support of Governor Saraki by the Kwara Patriots in his battle against his father was conveyed at a recent press conference in Illorin attended by hundreds of members bussed in from their Southern senatorial district in about 30 vehicles.

Supporting the Kwara Patriots at the press conference was another opposition group, Kwara Stakeholders Forum.

Chief Wole Oke leader of the Kwara Patriots a member of the Kwara State House of Assembly during the early eighties recalled that the two groups had earlier openly renounced their membership of the Action Congress of Nigeria [ACN] and opted to join the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC).He went on to say that the CPC ultimately became a transit camp.

Gov. Bukola Saraki

He observed that within the past few weeks, party politics in kwara state has witnessed spectacular metamorphosis resulting in the emergence of a completely new party in the state’s political landscape, a development which has pitched hitherto partners in one party against one another. This according to him calls for deep reflection among the people.

Oke noted that Kwara must make a choice otherwise the state would be headed towards that could further perpetuate the personalized hegemony under one man.

“We have discovered that Kwara State will suffer electoral misfortunes by allowing a particular governorship candidate in the forthcoming election to gain victory by default. Our only logical conclusion derivable from the above expressed fears is to redefine our stand with regards to the party platform to use for the forthcoming election. We have decided to take the most patriotic and rational step by responding positively to the invitation to collaborate and work with the Governor Bukola_led Peoples Democratic Party [PDP] in the state to move the state forward.”

“Our decision to join the PDP” according to him,” is also anchored on the respect accorded the zoning principle by the party in the state by picking its gubernatorial candidate from Kwara South in the person of Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed of Igbomina extraction in the Kwara South senatorial district. We believe in power shift, of which we have been major advocates, we commend Governor Bukola Saraki’s bold move on this scope”

He added “As stakeholders in the Kwara project, we note with delight and satisfaction the principled stand of His Excellency to respect and implement this principle which is a sure guarantee for equity, fairness and justice. We have no doubt in our minds that Kwara State can only move forward when every citizen has a sense of belonging and assurance that he or she has equal right to aspire to any position or office”

He further noted that their decision to team up with the PDP  led administration did not invalidate various petitions written against the administration which he noted, the anticorruption agencies ICPC and EFCC could act on as they so desired.

This move by the coalition of Kwara Patriot and Kwara Stakeholders Forum may have sounded the death knell for the Action Congress of Nigeria in the state ahead of the forthcoming elections going by their declaration that, “the bulk of the leadership of ACN has moved out of the ACN. What we have remaining of the ACN in Kwara today is an empty shell, the bulk of the leadership of the ACN is now in the PDP.’’

The ACN candidate, Alhaji Mohammed Belgore, SAN was quick to dismiss the claim saying that their defection to PDP would not affect the party’s planned victory in the forthcoming general elections in the state because already they had moved out of ACN before the last local government re run in Offa local government where his party ACN cleared the seats.

The Chairman of Offa local government council area of Kwara State, Alhaji Saheed Popoola who won his seat on the ticket of the ACN in a shocker declared that the ACN could not claim total glory for his epoch victory.

Speaking in an interview  with newsmen in Ilorin, he said that the clarification was in reaction to claims by some members of the ACN in the state that his success at the polls should be attributed to the party.

The Chairman who described himself as a member of the PDP to the core noted that his defection to ACN was a result of the inability of the leadership of PDP in Offa local government area to carry members of the PDP along.

He stressed that if what would make him to succeed and achieve as a local government Chairman was to go back to PDP he would not object.

He explained   that his success during the local government elections was as a result of the firm belief, commitment and conviction which the people of Offa had for his candidacy and not because he was a member of the ACN.

His words, “The glory and success of the election should go to the Olofa of Offa, Oba Mufutau Gbadamosi Illufemiloye Esuwoye II, the Asiwaju of Offa, Chief Emmanuel Adesoye, Professor Jamiu Oyawoye and Architect Lola Ashiru”.

The Chairman recalled that he was in the PDP for over ten years where he held various elective and appointive positions as Councilor and also served as a member, Kwara State Polytechnic Governing Council.

The Council Chairman blamed the leadership of ACN for the defection of its members to the PDP and the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN) in the state as he claimed that they had not abided by the party’s constitution, particularly in the conduct of free and fair primaries.

Meanwhile, the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria[ACPN] candidate in the forthcoming  governorship  election Senator Gbemisola Saraki is believed to be relying on the influence of her father to win the election.

What is visibly seen of Senator Gbemisola Saraki are posters and information of her reaching out to notable politicians complementing the efforts of her father.

Oloye as the elder Saraki is fondly called is, however, confronting an entirely new situation where he is pitched in battle against his son. The health of the elder Saraki is also another issue.

Governor Bukola Saraki in a deft move has also reconciled with President Goodluck Jonathan putting him in good position to collaborate with Abuja against his father.

The unfolding scenario in Kwara is an interesting political milieu where a kingmaker who had in the past successfully enthroned strangers as kings is about to be humiliated by his own son. A man’s enemy are truly members of his own household!

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