BY DEMOLA AKINYEMI
Since the merger of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kwara State with the All Progressives Congress (APC) last month, the political climate in Kwara has changed as politicians opposed to the political dominance of Senator Bukola Saraki have suddenly come out from their shells.
This is aside the fact that original members of the APC in the state are also jittery that Bukola and his election winning team could take the party from them and turn them to play second fiddle in their own party.
This fear is understandable given the past deft political moves of the Sarakis in outsmarting political opponents.
In 1983, Dr. Olusola Saraki who founded the political dynasty was able to stop his one time political follower Alhaji Adamu Attah for a second term after both men fell out leading to the victory of the Unity Party of Nigeria, UPN candidate, Chief Cornelius Adebayo.
In 2003, the Saraki clan also stopped Governor Mohammed Lawal from achieving a second term following a political dispute between it and the then governor.
But with the elder Saraki now dead, the political heat in the state is now sparked by in internal division within the political family founded by the late senator and second republic Senate leader, Senator Olusola Saraki.
Prominent dissenters against the political hegemony being weaved by Bukola include his own sister, Senator Gbemi Saraki and other disciples of the late Senate leader including a serving senator, Senator Simeon Ajibola, the former minister of sports, Alhaji Issa Bio Ibrahim, Hajia Ndalolo, Senator Makanjuola Ajadi, Professor Abudularaheem Oba the newly returned chairman of Federal Character Commission and one of the FCC commissioners, Dr Femi Ogunshola among others.
Gbemi who is also a political phenomenon in her own right having been a two term senator and former member of the House of Representatives fell out with her brother over her bid to succeed him as governor in 2011. Since that sharp division in which their father sided his daughter against his son, the family has not been the same again. It is alleged that even though they have managed to avoid open quarrel, are, however, not on speaking terms.
Since that bitter contest Gbemi who lost out has largely remained underground.At every given opportunity before he died, Oloye, as their father was widely known, he never failed to tell the people efforts he was making to reconcile the two siblings. His efforts, however, were unsuccessful until he died last year.
The two siblings are now taking opportunity of the division wrought by the crisis in the PDP to reengage themselves in battle. With Bukola out of the PDP, Gbemi has reemerged to take charge of the party in the state with her father’s late contemporaries.
There are also speculations that Mohammed Dele Belgore,s faction of APC may dump the party for PDP.
But the spokesman of APC, Alhaji Lai Mohammed counseled those who are scared of the entry of Bukola and Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed to stay put in the party as every interest would be taken care of. He warned that by ditching APC for PDP they would be committing political suicide, a development he said, they would regret.
Remarkably, the shell of what is left of the PDP is the focus of increasing attention by the PDP hierarchy in Abuja which is aiming to empower those remaining in readiness for the fight against Bukola and his gang ahead of the 2015 round of elections.
Apart from the return of Prof Oba as the chairman Federal Character Commission(FCC), there have been increased speculations that Gbemi could be given a ministerial position to bolster the opposition in the state.
While Gbemi repackages and is probably empowered, Bukola and the state government appear to have their own plan as they also came out with their own joker penultimate Monday when they flagged off an empowerment programme for youths in the state.
Flanked by Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed, Dr. Bukola at the event challenged the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency on youths unemployment in the country in order to enhance peaceful co-existence in Nigeria and secure the future of the country.
As if this was not enough, last weekend, all 350 high chiefs, comprising of the Magajis and Alanguas in Ilorin emirate publicly endorsed the political course of the state under the leadership of Bukola.
Ilorin emirate is made up of Ilorin East, West, South, Asa and Moro local government areas and boasts of 48 percent of the state’s population.
The Magaji Nda of Ilorin, Alhaji Salihu Woru who spoke on behalf of the 350 chiefs said that their declaration of open support for the scion of the famous Saraki political dynasty became necessary in view of the unfolding political development in the country.How far Gbemisola and other new members of PDP go to unseat Bukola is now a banter around Illorin.